American Hero
Mar 25, 2003
With the first reviews of Verizon’s initial 5G rollout emerging, an I the only one that is like “meh”? The epeen of course loves seeing 500Mb on a Speedtest screen, but I’m not quite sure what the benefit is of this speed vs a solid 20Mb/sec LTE connection on a mobile phone. An argument could be made for mobile broadband for laptops and such, but this use case isn’t the one being touted- it’s all about the handheld. Proponents point to the increasing resolution of streaming videos, large file downloads, etc, but even with 4G you could stream a 4K Netflix stream to a phone (why though- on the small screen size 1080 would look just as good). Personally I would love to see carriers invest in increased backhaul from current towers so that LTE can deliver the bits as fast as it’s capable of- the lack of backhaul is often the major limitor, and I suspect we’ll see this same bottleneck once 5G really starts to roll out. Thoughts?


Fully [H]
Jun 11, 2004
a large chunk of internet responsiveness is the hardware doing the browsing... phone is a lot slower than your desktop.. want to see what 5G can do, use your phone as a hotspot for your desktop... Where I live I get 70+MBS on 4G LTE on my Galaxy S8, more than fast enough for the phone


Apr 25, 2019
...I’m not quite sure what the benefit is of this speed vs a solid 20Mb/sec LTE connection on a mobile phone...Personally I would love to see carriers invest in increased backhaul from current towers...

First caveat of the points I'm making in what follows is that actual rollout performance depends entirely on how the various companies execute their plans. If the screw this up, then obviously your closing point is the real issue. Indeed, what good is 500Mb if the underlying infrastructure can't deliver.

However, there OUGHT to be both happening together, because it is all too obvious that if the potential delivery to the end user is rising 10X (or whatever you might expect in your region, could be 8X or 20X), then the underlying infrastructure requires an upgrade as these new transmitters are installed.

That said, there is another point. Shared throughput is opportunistic. If you're drawing 20Mb on average for a few minutes, and that's slower than possible on 4G, it's because several others are sharing the potential of that tower. If the speed from the tower to each device is faster, there may be moments of opportunity where they finish sooner, leaving the group with more throughput.

To be clear, there is hardly ever a smooth speed on all users when they're shared. Sometimes the servers providing this data get bogged down, which leave a moment of opportunity for other sharers on that tower to get more speed from their servers that are still pumping out at higher speeds. If they can't take advantage of that opportunity because their 4G limit is way below the momentary opportunity, then you can still end up with poor performance. If, however, in that moment, such a user could get 5x or 10x of what they're loading, they'll be done sooner, out of your way sooner, and your throughput can go up.

Now, obviously, this is dependent on just what the tower's throughput to the 'net proper may be. If it's 1Gb, and there are lots of 4G users drawing on it, maybe moving to 5G with that same 1G isn't going to help much unless you happen to be alone momentarily.

So, if the 5G goes up and they combine that with an upgrade to the backend, we'll see great things. If they bump to 5G but leave the old connections in place, you may see no gain or modest gains now and then.

There is one slight other benefit, though. 5G uses frequencies not consumed by 4G, so your connections may be better until users upgrade, even if your throughput isn't higher.

So, you're right....it all depends.

I'm not betting they won't screw it up, either.