Topic / 5G / 5G isn't quite there, and MixComm believes it has the millimeter wave fix

5G isn't quite there, and MixComm believes it has the millimeter wave fix
9 min read
Real 5G needs millimeter wave radio, and the iPhone 13 alone isn't going to make that happen. It's time for a new kind of chip, says startup MixComm.
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"The penetration of 5G is happening," Verizon CEO Hans Erik Vestberg said in the company's most recent earnings report.

Some beg to differ.

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"Up until now it has been more hype than reality," says Mike Noonen, the chief executive of wireless chip startup MixComm, regarding 5G.

"What has been rolled out so far is not ready for prime time," argues Noonen. "A scattering of headlines: it's too hot and you can't find it; it's too costly."

There is evidence indeed that 5G has so far not fulfilled its promise.

As early reviewers found in the past year, not all 5G is equal. Tests show 5G has not yet realized, at least in a reliable fashion, the promise of being "ten times faster than home WiFi."

A study, for example, by the bandwidth measurement firm Ookla in July found that T-Mobile was the fastest at 5G in the U.S., and had the best availability of a 5G signal. The best speeds, however, on T-Mobile, topped out at under 100 megabits, with limited availability.

Even believers on Wall Street don't think 5G is really happening yet.

"We're still in the twilight of the LTE era," wrote analyst Craig Moffett of the eponymous MoffettNathanson research firm last month.

"Perhaps the best we can hope is to white-knuckle our way through until the new iPhone, and the real 5G era, arrive."

The new iPhone 13, unveiled last week, broadens 5G support in some markets, but it doesn't extend 5G to new geographies as hoped, such as Japan. The iPhone 13 seems not to be the solution.

To MixComm's Noonen, there is a broad and deep technological issue that must be addressed.

"It's a problem to be solved and an opportunity to be exploited," said Noonen in an interview via Zoom from his home in Truckee, California.

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Tiernan Ray
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