Every time a new G hits the cellular world, we get driven into yet another frenzy of cyclic upgrades, there's new spectrum to be auctioned off, towers to upgrade and new devices to buy.
So I was intrigued to read that the Chinese Government has already set out its 5G agenda and that China Mobile is already 2 years into its 5G development program.
So I headed off to Wikipedia and discovered that we've been getting a new G about once every decade and the next one is due somewhere around 2022 - 2023. Great so I now know that my future iPhone 12 will be pretty fast and I can start saving for it now.
How fast well its hard to say but 1gb/s looks likely, and hopefully battery life will have improved by then.
What this really illustrates is that we need to look critically at all the announcements and have some context to fit them into:
1. Mobile is really important in China, their Government understands the need to have a 5G agenda and their carriers are already planning how to respond
2. Mobile speeds are going to continue to blur the lines in our post-pc world, we really are heading into the 'hypernet'
3. Mobile networks are going to continue to be capital intensive and we may need to seriously rethink how a small country like NZ continues to enjoy world-class services (can we really support 3 competing 5G networks?)
If you want a fore taste of 5G you'll probably get one in around 2016 or so when 1gb/s WiFi will start to become widespread, just in time go inside our UFB connected 'GigaHomes' but thats ok because Southern Cross, Hawaiki and the Trans Tasman cables will be running at up to 1tb/s (actually I just made that bit up).
The thing is though, there is a hierarchy of technologies that support all these networks and it starts with the fibre, then it goes to the ethernet switches, it moves onto WiFi and then gets rolled out in the cellular world.
And the speeds at the edge are the ones that really count, and that edge is now in our hands, our cars, our homes and on or in our bodies.