Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
podcast_1400-MiddayEdition.jpg
KPBS Midday Edition Segments

5G Service Rolls Out In San Diego

 December 11, 2019 at 10:19 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 The wait is over. A five G has arrived in San Diego. And if you're not quite sure what that means, just stay with me. The techies among us have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this new faster technology for mobile devices. Now T-Mobile has made it available to San Diego subscribers and a T and T is expected to be next. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune technology reporter Mike Freeman and Mike, welcome to the program. Glad to be here. Can you start off by telling us what 5g is and how it differs from 4g? Speaker 2: 00:35 Okay. It's um, I'm going to start, I'm going to go even further back than that. You know, each generation of these cellular, uh, transitions, you know, one G was a brick phone to G would be like you're talking text, phone 3g, you know, was kind of the birth of the smartphone. So some rudimentary apps connect to the internet. 4g actually brought the promise of the mobile internet to your handheld. So, um, Spotify, Uber, Lyft, you could do things like that. You can stream YouTube and then 5g is the next evolution of that. And what it really promises is faster speeds, lower transmission delays, um, and a ability to be architected in a way to connect everything, not just smart phones. And, and that is probably the biggest difference in 4g. That network was operated in a way that you can connect thousands of divorces of devices per killed kilometer, square kilometer 5g is architected so you can do millions and it's supposed to usher in kind of like the internet of things, right? Where cars, healthcare devices, smart cities, infrastructure, all this stuff is connected in a reliable, you know, fast, secure way. Speaker 1: 01:48 Can you give us more of an idea of what we might be able to do with 5g? I mean, practically speaking on a day to day basis, that's just sort of impossible. Now Speaker 2: 01:57 people, what they talk about is augmented reality and virtual reality. So glasses that could help you instead of looking at a manual all the time. Looking back at your manual, trying to do something, uh, you could just have that as a heads up display on a pair of glasses and it would be, you know, beamed and overlaid and you could do all that. That's the one thing that's really interesting. Um, they've talked about things, uh, like, um, mobile gaming. So today, you know, it's just very much like console gaming, except you could do it on your phone today. You just can't do that. There's just not enough bandwidth, uh, to do that sort of stuff. Uh, well that's another good one. Well, you know, all the smart cities connected cities stuff, um, you know, cameras, a light poles can be controversial, but you know, the aggregated data can help move traffic better. That's the type of thing that they're talking about. Speaker 1: 02:49 Now. My, you won't get 5g though on your current phone, will you? Speaker 2: 02:53 No. And this is something that's a little bit of, um, how the hype of five G has gotten of what the reality is. I think in some consumer's minds. Um, you know, F F you need a five G phone to get five G a five G phone will be backwards compatible. So you can get five G four G three G two G a but a four G phone is not forward compatible. So you can't, you get, you can't go four G to five to, you need to buy a new device and that is going to be the trick to 5g particularly with smart phones, which is how you know the bills are paid today, right? It's, there isn't really a big internet of things market today. So the bills are paid with smartphones. Is 5g going to be good enough to convince people to buy a new high end smartphone because of songs are going to be expensive? Speaker 2: 03:37 Yeah, they are. It's more, it's much more complex. Five G is much more complex cars, more components. Those things are going to be country are expected to be base price expensive. Now let me put a caveat on this. Um, the mobile app 5g and other thing it does is it makes the cost per bit. Plus, we're delivering a bit of data to your phone for mobile operators, less expensive. And so doing in that regard, they may be more willing to subsidize and we'll see how it rolls out. But if you notice T-Mobile in their little 5g rollout, which is not, you know, the best 5g can be. Um, they're doing, you know, buy one phone, get one free. I mean, so there's going to be those story promotions out there to try again because it's in their interest, right? I mean it's more efficient than 4g so they can get more people onto their network. It costs them less, they're going to do what they can. Speaker 1: 04:32 Let's talk about 5g in San Diego. It requires more and tenors to blanket this region with reliable signals. And that led to a bit of controversy with the city of San Diego as far as restrictions on how the intent is. We'll look, why was that disagreement there? What was that about? Speaker 2: 04:50 Well, there are different flavors of five G and so it's kinda, this is kind of important to understand. Yes. Two to do 5g you're going to have to densify the network. They call it densifying. The networks means have put up more towers. Okay. Um, but for certain flavors of 5g, the ones that are kind of closer to four G now, uh, you don't really need to put up that many more towers. I don't think that's what the controversy was about. The controversies about the super fast 5g millimeter wave that is going to require a significant densification. These are not new towers. They're more like new antennas. They're a little bit bigger than pizza boxes. They'll hang from buildings. They're probably going to need to be fiber optic connected because they're going to be big data streamers and big data collection, you know, transmitters. But that's what you're going to see. Speaker 2: 05:42 And I think people are concerned that, you know, on every building, every streetlight, every place you can imagine there's going to be a bunch of these, not very attractive and tennis. Um, so that obviously has neighbors concerned, neighbors are all concerned always about [inaudible] new cell towers going up. So I think is that you think is a good trade though, for the fastest speed? I mean, so that's hard for me to judge. Um, but because we don't really have millimeter wave in San Diego, right? We don't have that super fast service and what T-Mobile is doing and what ATNT is doing is not the super fast five G. um, so I'm, I'm not sure if it's a good trade off or not. I, I do think though that, you know, millimeter wave, there has been some, you know, speculative stories about, um, our speculation on social media about it being harmful and the FCC and, and, um, others have come out saying that it is not harmful that these signals don't propagate. And if, if you, you know, if they're easily blocked by tree leaves, I really not even gonna penetrate your skin. So you know, that it's not actually a health issue. They also have power restrictions. You can only radiate these things at a S at a low power. I've been speaking with Mike Freeman, he's technology reporter with the San Diego union Tribune and Mike, thank you very much. Thank you.

Ways To Subscribe
MiddayEd_generic-new_FefYLga.jpg
5G service has begun to roll out in San Diego. The new service holds the promise of much faster transmission speeds with the capability of moving much more data than the current 4G.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments