Bert thinks the market for cable STBs can be opened up in a matter of months. I
say years, due to the politics and build out realities.
As a point of reference, consider this article about 5G.
5G follies: The network that doesn't exist
You're forgiven if you think you need to prepare fifth-generation (5G) cellular
networks, which have been getting increasing buzz, fed mostly by the carriers
and the equipment makers who sell to them. They're dangling promises of
cellular networks that match gigabit Ethernet wired networks -- wherever you
Too bad 5G is a fiction. It doesn't actually exist -- there's not even a
standard for 5G technology, much less anything real. Maybe in a decade there'll
be something actually called 5G that you will be able to make decisions around
-- but not for years. Don't waste your time.
Carriers are notorious for making network promises a decade or more before they
deliver them. Partly, that deflects from the poor state of many carrier
deployments. Partly, that's the usual tech market interest on new and shiny
But given the huge infrastructure changes that must be made for a network
technology like cellular to get deployed (and all the cell towers that must be
installed in communities that don't want them), the gap between promise and
delivery in mobile telecom is like the gap between earth and Mars. No matter
the claims, you won't get there for years.
Remember the 3G was promised in the late 1990s but didn't get wide deployment
until 2008. Similarly, 4G was promised in the late 2000s, and we still don't
have it -- what we call 4G (LTE) is a pre-4G technology that the standards
committee finally grandfathered because of the slow progress in deploying true
4G (now known as LTE-Advanced). LTE-Advanced today is in a few trial network
deployments, but in no equipment you actually use.
In the case of 5G, there's not even a "there" yet. A variety of vendors and
industry groups have been proposing ideas for 5G networks for several years,
but there is no agreement on what 5G is. That means there are no technical
standards and, thus, nothing to build.
Some groups want 5G to be the cellular equivalent of 10-gig Ethernet, a
cellular network that is indistinguishable from a wired or even Wi-Fi network
when it comes to video streaming, downloads, and futuristic uses like virtual
Some groups want 5G to be a mesh network for machine-to-machine (M2M)
communications, in what is now labeled the Internet of things. These folks say
broadband for computerlike clients isn't the most compelling need, instead
arguing for a ubiquitous network for all sorts of devices to interact
Some groups say that efficiency should be the goal of 5G, to squeeze more out
of the wireless spectrum that is available now. They also argue that
speed-oriented 5G proposals are unworkable because the wide-spectrum swaths
aren't available to deliver them. But some 5G-for-speed proposals focus not on
more bandwidth but denser networks, which means more cell towers and access
points must be installed everywhere.
These are knotty issues to resolve, especially because their goals differ.
It'll take years to work out the goals and years more to work out the
technology. Did I say 5G is a decade out? I bet it'll won't actually happen
until the 2030s. Maybe we'll get a standard in the 2020s.
In the meantime, it's fine to dream about 5G possibilities. But if someone
tells you to start planning for 5G, show them the door. There's nothing to plan
for, and there's plenty of other useful work to be done in the meantime.
InfoWorld executive editor Galen Gruman analyzes the latest issues in mobile
technology and user-facing technology. His latest book is "iPad at Work for
Dummies" and he has written more than 40 how-to books, on iOS, iPad, Windows 8,
OS X, and desktop publishing. He is also the editorial CTO for IDG US Media,
InfoWorld's parent company.