5G is fundamentally flawed because the technology will struggle to deliver on the extravagant claims that have been made for it, and users won't pay for the capacity, even if it does.
Furthermore, cash-strapped mobile operators will struggle to afford the costs of rolling it out as revenue growth in the industry has plateaued as the market reaches saturation point.
That is the claim of mobile entrepreneur Professor William Webb, deputy chair at Cambridge Wireless, CEO of the Weightless SIG, and co-founder of cloud company Neul.
"Despite the clearly flawed case for 5G, it is not in the interests of any of the stakeholders to point this out because they all benefit from the interest, funding and potential that 5G promises," claims Webb.
He believes that the development of standards capable of delivering "consistent connectivity everywhere" would be more beneficial than "unnecessarily fast speeds in city centres".
Webb makes the claims in a new book, ‘The 5G Myth'.
"Current mobile data speeds are more than adequate for all foreseeable uses. Data growth is slowing and may plateau around 2027, with only around two-times growth occurring during the 5G era. With 5G predicated predominantly on higher speeds and also on its ability to deliver substantially enhanced data capabilities, this suggests 5G may not be targeting the right areas," he claims.
With demand for mobile data starting to plateau, network enhancements are being delivered via more antennas at the base station and in the device, many more small cells, or dense deployments in completely new frequency bands.
"The advent of 4G effectively provided a capacity enhancement of around two-and-a-half-times at very little extra cost. The same will not happen for 5G. Relatively low-cost capacity enhancements will likely provide less than two-times improvements. Going beyond this will come at a very high cost due to the very large number of additional small cells that will need to be deployed," he claims.
Furthermore, mobile networks aren't the money-spinners that they used to be, with companies struggling to maintain their historic profitability, with revenues depressed while investment needs to be maintained at relatively high levels. "The only rationale for mobile network operators to invest in new technology is to prevent subscriber churn to their competitors," suggests Webb.
"In practice, most visions can be adequately achieved with existing technology, such as evolved 4G, evolving Wi-Fi and emerging Internet of Things technologies," he concludes.
Webb was one of the youngest ever Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and is also a Fellow of the IEEE - the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is currently involved in the development of standards for wireless machine-to-machine communications.
He has published 14 books, more than 100 papers and has 18 patents to his name. He is also Visiting Professor at the 5G Innovation Centre at Surrey University, Southampton University and Trinity College, Dublin.
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