If we set aside the rules of good form and soft language, then we will have to admit that most of the population of our country does not feel any improvement in the quality of communication or other noticeable benefits from the new 5G standard. Once again: at the time of this publication, the benefits of 5G for private users of the Russian Federation are zero.
The talks about testing a new generation of communication and its implementation in Russia have been going on for a long time. Seven years ago, one of the Big Three operators signed an agreement with Huawei on the creation of pilot 5G networks, and today all market participants have similar agreements with one or another corporation. As time has shown, the declaration of intentions and their implementation are slightly different things, and very distant from each other along the timeline.
Just think about one fact: the children born in 2014 have become “very big” and will go to first grade this year. The 5G implementation process has also become “very big” and after seven years it can be proud of coverage in the Skolkovo innovation center and scattered points on the map of Moscow, St. Petersburg and the Kazan metro. It is quite possible that not all areas of presence are mentioned, but any clarifications will not make a big change in the picture of the prevalence of the new standard.
However, we are not alone. Among the CIS countries, the 5G network has been launched only in one – Uzbekistan. Roughly representing the realities of post-Soviet Central Asia, it can be assumed that high-speed communication is available there in the central regions of the capital, and the population of the main part of the country is content with the network of the second, third and occasionally fourth generations.
We did not study the factors by which the fifth generation communication turned out to be unclaimed or unavailable in other CIS countries – most likely, the reasons for the weak spread of 5G networks are similar to those in Russia. But the reasons for such a long promotion to the Russian market are varied, understandable and well-grounded.
The fact is that the higher the frequency range, the smaller its coverage radius, and the more transmitters will be required to ensure stable communication. Pioneer countries in the implementation of 5G networks are using the best option, which allows you to improve the quality of communication with minimal investment in infrastructure.
The best opportunities in this case are provided by the frequencies 3.4-3.8 GHz – they are the most popular for deploying new generation networks. De facto, this is practically the standard, and all equipment for base stations, smartphones, tablets, as well as 5G devices are designed for it. For Russian operators, the ability to use these frequencies is not available: the military and Roskosmos are already operating in them. Moreover, due to possible interference with the transmitting and receiving equipment of the law enforcement agencies, operators were not allowed to use the frequencies already allocated to them for the deployment of 5G networks.
When trying to use higher frequencies, it turned out that the 4.8-4.99 GHz band offered by the authorities in the border areas is occupied by “friend or foe” systems for NATO aircraft. Latvia, Estonia and Finland immediately drew attention to the situation: they spoke out against the use of 5G by Russian operators at 4.8-4.99 GHz.
If anyone uses this range in the Kaliningrad region, Poland will immediately join them. The most unpleasant thing in this situation is that in accordance with the international radio communication regulations, which the Russian Federation also supports, it is necessary to coordinate the use of 4.8-4.99 GHz frequencies with neighboring states that own aircraft equipped with communication facilities. In fact, the entire European part of the Russian Federation (300-450 kilometers) is subject to this regulation.
In fact, a stalemate has developed with the frequencies for 5G, in which it is easiest for interested parties not to take any action and wait for key decisions from the state. All the more unusual in such circumstances is the growth in sales of smartphones supporting a new generation of communication: according to Moviedom-Eldorado Group, since the first 5G gadgets appeared in Russia, about 1,400,000 devices have already been sold. Almost all major manufacturers have presented their models or entire model ranges with support for new generation networks, so the sales growth will not stop there.
So is it worth buying a 5G smartphone or not?
The answer is unequivocal: yes it is. First of all, because they use new solutions and technologies: you can get more memory, a more powerful and less energy-consuming processor, a large battery and a larger screen size for less money. Or because you can safely launch a new toy on it without lags and delays. Technology does not stand still and the latest models surpass their predecessors in any case. 5G networks will develop in any case, and soon they will definitely come to the megacities of our country – it is very likely that in a couple of years residents of large cities will feel the benefits of a new generation of communication. But for the inhabitants of small towns and villages, the advantages of buying will be only in the new, more perfect filling of the smartphone: you have to remember that the ability of the device to work in 5G networks is just a pleasant addition to the purchase. Something like a compliment from the chef in the restaurant.
I would like to hope that our domestic “chefs” in various departments nevertheless realize the need to develop 5G networks in Russia, and will give all telecom operators, and us, a huge “compliment” in the form of clean, uncluttered frequencies in low, medium and high ranges.