VT Professor talks 5G cell phone network, issues with federal govenment involvement

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) New cell phone internet service is set to roll out next year. But there's a question as to who will provide it to everyone with a smart phone.

According to the professor Jeff Reed at Virginia Tech, 5G is a much higher frequency than what we have now with 4G. In fact, he said 5G is likely more than 50 times higher frequency as the broadcasting frequency on WDBJ7.

Reed is the Willis G. Worcester Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. He has served as an advisor to the FCC and 30+ organizations including in AT&T and T-Mobile during the merger. He is currently coauthoring a book on 5G and is the founding director of Wireless @ Virginia Tech, one of the largest and most comprehensive university wireless research groups in the United States.

He said 5G is going to be one of the biggest roll outs in twenty years.

“It is going to open up a whole bunch of new applications and new capabilities,” he said. “It's going to have tremendously high data rates, operate at very low power in some modes with battery lives of ten years or more.”

Reed said this internet will be just as fast, if not faster, than home internet offered by cable companies. But what new technology does it have?

Reed explained, “Such as augmented reality and virtual reality and they've even done demonstrations of holographic transmissions with 5G.”

The one big question at this point is will 5G be offered by the cell phone companies, or controlled by the federal government?

The National Security Council wants to federalize the distribution and lease 5G to the cell providers to ensure cyber security.

Reed said of this idea, “I think that's a very bad idea. For one, it codifies a single service provider and what we need in telecommunications is competition. We don't want a dominant player.”

Reed said there are other ways to protect cyber security.

He explained, “Instead I think convening the industry to study best practices for security would be good. I think government can play a role in setting this up to avoid collusion and can be a good force for transparency and educating the public on being a wise consumer. They may even rank carriers by how well they do in implementing security and make this information available to consumers.”

He believes it will stay with the cell companies and when it rolls out we'll see new small bay stations everywhere which will provide the signal.

One real downside for smart phones users is the phones they have now won't work with 5G. They'll need to get new phones to use the technology.

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