The 5G upgrade still has a long way to go. This Wired article explains that 5G operates in three different radio frequency ranges, basically low, medium, and high. The real, revolutionary changes expected from 5G really come from use of the high frequency ranges, in the millimeter band. The higher the frequency, the higher the rate of data transmission, and 5G is all about fast data.
The problem is that shorter wavelengths have shorter ranges and cannot penetrate much of anything, like walls. To get the higher speeds, there would have to be cell towers very close together, many more than we have now, and very close to the people using their phones. According to the Wall Street Journal, the new cell towers are already running into resistance as they are installed across the US. The Journal also reports that in one of the countries most wired for 5G, South Korea, it doesn’t work that well. One place 5G is supposed to be available is in NFL stadiums. This is partly because there are no walls blocking spectators off from the 5G cell transmitters. Even there, it sounds like the coverage is not universal, as Venturebeat reports.
5G will probably work in the lower, slower parts of the new 5G wavelength spectrum, but that does not offer the quantum leap in capability that the high end offers. And you wonder, if 5G receptivity is spotty, can you depend on it to drive your AI car? Venturebeat reports that Qualcomm has doubled its 5G mmWave range to 2.36 miles for broadband modems, but the announcement says it is specific to broadband modems, not to smartphones. Current 5G might be more suitable to small, compact facilities, like college campuses or industrial parks, rather than to general public use. Perhaps further breakthroughs in mmWave technology will make it more generally available.