BBC broadcast fails highlight potentially serious drawbacks of 5G
5G networks are becoming a reality in countries such as the UK. The carrier EE recently launched this next-gen data-transfer standard in 6 cities. The BBC was on the scene to cover its roll-out in London's Covent Garden. To mark the occasion, it decided to transmit some relevant news pieces over the new network, using what reporter Rory Cellan-Jones referred to as a "van with a little box of tricks".
However, the national service failed to anticipate just how much data the "little box" could eat while doing so. Cellan-Jones was moved to disclose the fact that his broadcast should have started "15 minutes" prior to its actual start time, due to the activity of the SIM card involved in the new equipment had used. The reporter also noted that the network ran at speeds of up to 260 megabits per second (Mbps) at the approximate time.
Therefore, it seems that 5G may come with the risk that it could burn through a conventional data plan (or fair-use policy, when applicable) in a very short space of time. However, this was not the only new mobile-data problem the BBC encountered while trying to use it. An additional live report released on the same day as Cellan-Jones' show that the network could not keep the quality of a TV-grade broadcast constant. Amusingly, the newscaster who received it asked the reporter in question about any "SNAFUs or problems" encountered while doing so - both categories of which could have been said to transpire only moments later.
This second piece, filmed in exactly the same place as the first, exhibited significant losses of image quality and clarity as it went on. The reporter also noted that she was unable to see 5G speeds of any higher than those of a typical 4G connection. However, a demonstration of the same network on a OnePlus 7 Pro, appeared to show that the phone achieved speeds of approximately 500 Mbps. This video was uploaded by the popular British tech YouTuber SuperSaf on the same date as those of the BBC reports (May 30, 2019).
Therefore, all of this taken together suggests a conclusion that not only is 5G data-hungry, it is wildly inconsistent as well. On the other hand, this potentially powerful standard is only in its infancy. Hopefully, further development and refinement of the technology in question will result in more reliable, useful 5G in the future. Hopefully, it will also become more economically feasible as well.