5G is “a zoo of different technologies,” says Swarun Kumar, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and head of its Laboratory for Emerging Wireless Technology. “There is one standard, but it can be interpreted in different ways.”…
Kumar says it isn’t clear if one spectrum range will become more dominant than the others, although he expects a mix of mid-band and millimeter-wave tech to win out. “Everyone is trying to make up their minds, that’s the honest truth,” he says.
Many of the 5G phones launched so far are only designed to work with one variant of 5G. Those sold in Europe, for instance, typically do not support ultrawideband, since it is less common there. Often, customers have to pay more for phones that support different versions of 5G, like the Samsung S20 on Verizon. “Handsets are all over the place,” Kumar says. “What each manufacturer calls 5G is different—it’s a very low bar.”