The biggest challenge facing Mobile Operator’s 5G Plans: Apple might get to decide what 5G is.


At Mobile World Congress 2017 the telcos have wasted a fortune and disillusioned the media talking about 5G with demos that actually made little/no sense and distracted everyone from the really big opportunities to add value to society with mobile networks.

Here’s a few examples from what the world’s biggest Mobile equipment brands promoted at mwc17 to help make the point:

Huawei Technologies

Huawei Technologies is the world’s largest telecommunications equipment company (not including mobile device sales) and centre of their booth was a Virtual Reality Goggles demo.


Now I can understand an Augmented Reality angle to 5G but what’s the demand for using VR Goggles outside of somewhere that has Fibre connected WiFi? Has anyone at Huawei asked do VR Goggles present us with a computing problem or a network problem as in tandem with the 360 degree Honor smartphone camera I think the answer is pretty obvious.


You have to doubt the ability Huawei has to market 5G when you realise it’s current marketing team thinks that #MWC17 audiences were going to be spellbound by promises that their new flagship device (arguably one of the best mobile devices in the world right now) is going to be available in a “Mystic Silver Cool and Sleek” color?



Ericsson is the world’s 2nd largest telecommunications equipment company (not including mobile device sales) and their 5G Robotic Surgery Demo was a disgrace to Kings College Hospital in London. I just hope the hospital got a load of money for it as this made a mockery of how surgeons are using technology in this globally recognised centre of surgical excellence.

The demo was just nonsensical – a guy wearing a “Internet of Skills” was waving his  arm about wearing a glove and this was moving about a robot arm. Seemingly none of the delegates realised that a surgeon does more than wave their arms about prod Patients with a finger and that the human body isn’t transparent…

Cisco Systems


Cisco are the world’s 3rd largest telecommunications equipment company (not including mobile device sales) and their MWC17 headline was that they would be a key tech supplier for a trial with Verizon to deliver 5G service to pilot customers in 11 markets across the U.S. by mid-2017.

This is the same Verizon that rebranded 3G as 4G and sells unlimited* data plans that even today in the real world are actually limited to 22 GB/month (apparently these 5G networks will apparently be able to provide Gigabit per second speeds (meaning that the 2017 monthly data cap will be going in less than a minute!).

On the #MWC17 booth Cisco’s Dan Kushner, SP Mobility Marketing Manager, explained why 5G is so important to Cisco right now and it shows how far 5G is to even being intelligible to telecom equipment buyers:

“…quite simply for Cisco 5G is our open system architecture that forms an enabling platform to launch innovative services and applications. We use advanced automation to create a unifying network fabric and when you put that together over the infrastructure you create a 5G unified enabling platform”

Nokia Networks 

Nokia Networks  are the world’s 4th largest telecommunications equipment company (not including mobile device sales) and their pavilion and keynote talk showcased toy Monster Trucks being driven around a figure 8 via 5G network connectivity.


Maybe the delegates never had a Scalelectrics set growing up but hasn’t the Mobile Industry learnt nothing from Tesla (the only automotive company to realise how daft it is to try and have 2 different source power plants in a vehicle). If they can fit a 3G connected computer in a sleek performance can safely SELF DRIVE a car on actual roads TODAY and upload/download updates/feedback why wouldn’t you want a computer onboard to eliminate any potential latency risks when you have a Monster Truck hurtling about a easy to define smooth/obstacle free figure of 8? This is an example of a computing problem NOT a network problem!


What happens if Apple decides to define 5G?

Clearly Apple are never going to start playing the technical one upmanship game with telco equipment manufacturers but they’ve got good form for taking away all the complexity (remember when in 2014 they replaced SIM cards in the Apple iPad Mini with the “Apple SIM” that turned out to be easy to use software that let customers choose which mobile network they wanted without the need for a SIM Card?) and they have the affluent end of the customer base that is the only group who could possibly afford to download a unlimited* monthly data plan inside 30 seconds!.

What if Apple 5G isn’t going to be a new network technology but a new way of using the existing network technologies?

What if you could seamlessly roam onto multiple 3G, 4G, WiFi networks and Apple just took care of it all and always kept you connected as required without you having to worry about issues like security.

Could Apple define 5G as seamless AlwaysBestConnected access to connectivity without any concerns about how much you’re going to be billed?

What’s this got to do with mHealth?

Sometimes it’s not always about giving customers more connectivity it can be about giving them better connectivity and in the mHealth market the difference between these is critical.

Can you imagine any Patients/Carers/Medics who don’t want to have Always Best Connected access to all the mobile networks?

Can you imagine any regulators who won’t insist that the medical devices they approve have Always Best Connected access to all the mobile networks?

*** UPDATE 7 March 2017 ***

Don’t miss Nick Hunn’s take on the 5G Myth being perpetuated at MWC17. 

“But there’s a cold wind of change.  It’s becoming clearer that 5G isn’t providing new applications.  Instead, it’s a story that being conceived and propagated for the benefit of the 5G myth makers.  They need to keep selling major infrastructure upgrades, as without that they have a very bleak future”

Qualkia – Constructing the 5G Myth

About David Doherty
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