Our own Producer Jacob Dean was in the Lentz neighborhood of Portland, OR near the MAX line when he saw a “5Ge” symbol on this phone.  5G, the “fifth generation” of cell phone technology, is making its debut this year. But is it really in Portland?

Is 5G already in Portland, OR?

You may remember that the Portland City Council expressed some concerns earlier in the year about the health, safety, and logistics of 5G.  Their concern being heavily based upon the idea that the Federal Government will have say so over towers used for this new technology. Thus, removing control from local government.

According to Digital Trends, Verizon has rolled out 5G in very limited parts of Chicago and Minneapolis.  Sprint is talking about some markets in May. There hasn’t been a lot of discussion in Portland.

In short, we do not have 5G here yet.

Are we being tricked about 5G?

In my opinion the answer to this is yes.  If you give the screenshot a closer look you will see that it actually says “5Ge”.   The “e” is lowercase and smaller to the left hand side of the logo. You will also only see this if you have certain AT&T phones.  So what does this mean?

It turns out that 5Ge is not 5G at all.  It is, in fact, 4G LTE Advanced and is a technology that the providers have had for a long time.  5Ge doesn’t deliver most of what you will expect on a true 5G network.

Will my phone work with the real 5G when it’s available?

4G phones on the market today will not work with the new 5G standard.   Manufactures are announcing and showing products that will work. The first is the Galaxy S10 5G by Samsung.  It is a native 5G phone out the gate. Other manufactures including LG and ZTE have announced devices of their own.

5G devices will be compatible with 4G networks but not the other way around.  You will have to purchase a new phone or perhaps a retrofit to make use of this new technology.  There won’t be a need until you are somewhere that supports the new features.

What else is 5G?

According to Intel’s Robert Topol, general manager for 5G business and technology, this new standard will be the “post-smartphone era”.  While 5G will start with phones as the most easily adoptable tech gadget, it can do much more. 5G technology will give competition to standard Internet providers like Comcast, Charter, and Frontier.   The wireless technology can provide faster connections without lag time that we see on current wireless services. In short, we will be able to run our home networks without the need for a wired connection to the cable or phone company.  At top speeds 5G promises to download a full movie in about 5 seconds.

So don’t be fooled, Portland doesn’t have 5G yet.  Your existing AT&T phone might show 5Ge, but this is a marketing technique for 4G LTE Advanced.  You will know when it works mainly because you will most likely need to buy a new phone.

Will iPhone support 5G?

Apple has said that they will wait until 2020 to release a 5G smartphone.  They want to wait for all the kinks to be worked out first. So while it is on the horizon it’s not available yet.

William (Bill) Sikkens has been a technology expert for KXL on the Morning Show with Steve and Rebecca since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler.

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