5G: Finally making “Unlimited” data a reality?

5G’s upcoming advance is believed to be the messiah of many good things; massive improvement to wireless speed, great opportunity for operators to develop fresh business models around enterprise and IoT as well as a dramatic boost in network capacity. In all of these, one thing is very definite about the 5G introduction; it will enable operators correct their various marketing issues that their networks in the past couldnt really deliver on.

As it is generally understood about wireless, being unlimited does not really connote real unlimited data, as many mobile carriers are constantly in a “3D” balancing act. The forces at work, the ability to generate revenue from data usage, keep the network from maximum load and ensuring happy customers are all at play.

When you talk about unlimited in wireless, it simply refers to a specific amount of monthly data usage before the speeds slow down or in some cases is cut off all together. The amount of data usage is usually around 20 GB to 50 GB, but this varies greatly depending on the plan and overage rates in specific markets. However, with these plans people can easily burn through even a 50 GB data plan if they are using it as an internet service.

Of course, there is nothing unlimited about the data plan. While expecting unhindered services, there typically is a usage cap, video degradation, speed throttling, or some other caveats that restrict consumption of data. Over the years, operators have constantly faced criticism for their not having true unlimited data claims. The first of its kind was the unlimited marketing campaign of AT&T, followed by the more recent Verizon’s move to stifle data speed of some fire fighters who were combating a California wildfire.

There are some harsh realities that operators try to contend with. While a plan might be sold as unlimited, having a user pull down terabytes of data from the network means that other users are not able to use the network at its best. All ISP’s run their networks in a “shared capacity” model, where if 1GBPS of data is available to a neighbourhood, they have oversubscribed that specific area 20–100 times in terms of sold packages. Customers who are extremely heavy users on a regular consumer package are not sustainable for the ISP or cell phone provider to accommodate.

No doubt, this problem was caused by the operators in marketing. The latest bunch of unlimited data plans were developed as a sort of upgrade to the metered data provisions that were very much in circulation some years back. While using those data plans, consumers were fined if they ever exceeded a specific amount of data usage. The unlimited data plans were later introduced as a replacement to the overage fees and to offer a little more data to the consumers. However, with this upgrade, there is still nothing unlimited about the unlimited plan. As a matter of fact, the unlimited plan is another way that these operators use to measure the gigabytes consumed by users.

Interestingly, the introduction of 5G can fix all these. The 5G technology is positioned as 100–1000x boost to the capacity and speeds of wireless network. It is significantly more spectrally effective and has the potential to manage considerably more traffic than the 3G or even 4G.

If the 5G is installed in millimetre wave spectrum, it has a high likelihood to enable wireless speeds to reach up to 1 Gbps. If this is the case, then the 5G should offer operators an opportunity to really provide unlimited data. This does not mean that operators should start providing unlimited services with the 5G launch in the real sense of the word, but with the launch of 5G there should be more flexibility in data plans and not just a rigid cap to unlimited data plan.

Gilbert A Darrell is the Founder of Horizon. He has 18 years experience in information technology and telecom solutions, a veteran in Fire and EMS Services, a crypto enthusiast and a member of the Bermuda Government’s Cryptocurrency Task Force.

Horizon Communications is an upcoming fixed wireless internet and cellular service provider looking to provide services in Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Central America before expanding internationally. While utilizing 4th generation and soon 5th generation wireless technology,it will also heavily incorporate blockchain and cryptocurrency technology.

More information can be found on their website — www.HorizonComm.co

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