Is the massive 5G hype distracting us from the basics?

JANUARY 22 — Over the weekend there was a lot of talk from politicians about how 5G would revolutionise how we do things.

Beyond the hoopla, there seems to be an imbalance in local coverage about the limitations of 5G.

Yes, 5G theoretically can achieve speeds one hundred times more than 4G. In reality speeds will at most be 20 per cent faster in practice.

5G also has a much smaller coverage area and unlike 4G, that needs fewer towers for wider coverage, 5G requires a lot more towers though 5G towers are much smaller in size.

As for smartphones at the moment 5G phones will not be cheap and it will likely take a year or so before mass-market, affordable 5G-ready phones are available.

It’s great that 5G could make possible a future where many devices could connect at the same time minus the congestion of normal networks.

What’s not so great? The fact that broadband connectivity is still lacking in many areas and prices are still on the high side.

I’ll admit that the government has improved pricing to an extent; what I think is that it could and should do more.

It isn’t acceptable how much of a monopoly one company has over much of our internet infrastructure.

The current anti-competitive nature of our industries in general stifles innovation, encourages cronyism and ignores the needs of the underserved.

It isn’t right that the Internet and all its promise is more readily available to those with money.

In the US, if you desperately needed to check your email but couldn’t afford it, the public library offered public terminals.

Mind, there were limitations to how much time you got with them but at least the service was an option for those who needed it.

What I’d like is for more effort and money, hackneyed as it might sound, into bridging that digital divide.

I wish I could say that it has lessened with the years but it seems it has instead empowered those already blessed with money and privilege to get even further ahead of those without.

5G is no miracle technology and while it opens the door to new possibilities, I can’t say that it is the solution we need for the problems we have now.

In the future I’d rather our politicians perhaps be a little less keen on overselling technology and be wary about just how much business interests will decide the course of our technology roadmap.

We shouldn’t have our politicians being telco spokespeople for free.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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