The July 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Telecom Experts Plot a Path to 5G

The ITU is sorting through likely approaches to the next-generation mobile standard

4 min read
Telecom Experts Plot a Path to 5G
Photo: iStockphoto

Even before the 4G technology your smartphone uses was rolled out in earnest, telecommunications experts were dreaming of the next generation: 5G. But what 5G will do and how it will do it have remained pretty nebulous. “5G is a plethora of technologies that people are trying to bring together. What technology should be prioritized in what way?” says Thyaga Nandagopal, the director of the Networking Technologies and Systems program at the U.S. National Science Foundation.

But pressure to answer that question is mounting: Within five years, mobile service providers will need the new networks to power the Internet of Things, where just about everything, including smart cars, homes, thermometers, and portable sonar fish detectors, will be online.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

How the FCC Settles Radio-Spectrum Turf Wars

Remember the 5G-airport controversy? Here’s how such disputes play out

11 min read
This photo shows a man in the basket of a cherry picker working on an antenna as an airliner passes overhead.

The airline and cellular-phone industries have been at loggerheads over the possibility that 5G transmissions from antennas such as this one, located at Los Angeles International Airport, could interfere with the radar altimeters used in aircraft.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images
Blue

You’ve no doubt seen the scary headlines: Will 5G Cause Planes to Crash? They appeared late last year, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warned that new 5G services from AT&T and Verizon might interfere with the radar altimeters that airplane pilots rely on to land safely. Not true, said AT&T and Verizon, with the backing of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which had authorized 5G. The altimeters are safe, they maintained. Air travelers didn’t know what to believe.

Another recent FCC decision had also created a controversy about public safety: okaying Wi-Fi devices in a 6-gigahertz frequency band long used by point-to-point microwave systems to carry safety-critical data. The microwave operators predicted that the Wi-Fi devices would disrupt their systems; the Wi-Fi interests insisted they would not. (As an attorney, I represented a microwave-industry group in the ensuing legal dispute.)

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":["29845282"]}