The Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit that was scheduled for this week was supposed to be a success for blazing-fast 5G cellular networks. This was, in fact, the first time most journalists were going to see real, consumer 5G devices running on real 5G networks from AT&T and Verizon. Things did not go as per schedule though.
A good number of 5G devices were there on the beautiful Maui as planned, but journalists were not even allowed to try 5G network in any meaningful way. They could not touch the Samsung phone, or even the AT&T or Verizon hotspot. They could not run an actual speed test on Motorola’s 5G modded phone. There were demos, for instance, there was a VR headset that was plugged into a computer connected to WiFi that was also technically 5G, but there was no way for journalists to look through the curtain to verify if that was actually 5G and if it was indeed working.
Qualcomm was able to announce its Snapdragon 855 processor that is theoretically capable of multi-gigabit speeds. According to network provider Ericsson, today’s most LTE networks can cross 400Mbps in some areas, and the single 39GHz millimeter wave 5G network in Maui is currently running at a measly 130-140Mbps.
Ericsson is the one that set up the network for both AT&T and Verizon in Maui, and the representatives from the two companies said the same thing with the network provider. Since they threw together a network here with just 100MHz worth of spectrum, and they only had a few days to test and optimize it, the network speeds could not be just what they expected them to be.
Glenn Couper, AT&T assistant vice president of mobile broadband, told journalists that they were not trying to hide the slow speeds. He said that the rates were not as eye-popping as they would have liked them to be.