Pax mobility – 5G?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Technology doesn’t go very linearly forward.

There are many things we await with eager expectations. One of these is the 5G network.

I’ve been keen to observe and stick my spoon in to the “cutting edge” for 30+ years: I was lucky enough, you could say, to have parents that thought it would be wise to get the guy familiarized with computers. Oh boy, I did.

Let’s recap: What is 5G network?

5G is the fifth generation of a mobile network. It describes with one term the set of technologies that will create faster and better mobile network; a data and voice network that can serve the images, text, voice, and all forms of media for phones, tablets, and other 5G-enabled devices.

5G mobile network technology kind of falls into what I perceive as:

  • very lucrative, promising technology that could once again revigorate the UX of mobile usage
  • a massive investment world-wide
  • interesting as a technological innovation in its own right; yet..
  • innovation that isn’t that revolutionary, rather evolutionary.

On researching the 5G network I found that for the average joe, it’s rather elusive and somewhat elongated transition that hasn’t perhaps clarified itself as strongly as previous evolutions in mobile technology.

5G in short will be done by

  • increasing the density – ie. number of mobile base stations; note: not necessarily the large perceivable “masts”, but rather smaller tranceivers (radio transmitter / receivers) that have 5G-compliant hardware and a software stack
  • implementing a compatible counterpart to the mobile devices (phones and tablets)

Second observation (as of 11/2018): it’s not yet there.

Sure, there’s a great momentum, and 5G will be implemented. But right now, going around to a cellular shop, you can’t ask for a 5G phone. Even if you’d get one, there would simply be no 5G networks to utilize!

I visited 2 shops in October 2018, and asked for the 5G handset availability and close future prospects. These were quite nil. In the words of a sales person, “I’d not yet be worried at the 5G at all as a criteria for purchasing a phone.”

Why I expect a lot of positive influence from 5G?

If you come to think of it, “mobile” practically has been b-l-o-a-t-i-n-g. Even though the hardware has become better, there’s a sense of diminishing returns. Did I get the information I was looking for? Yep. By waiting at least 1, perhaps sometimes 5-10 seconds. That’s seconds. Dude. We were supposed to have lightning fast stuff by the year 2020.

Imagine a 1970s scifi movie, where there’s an intelligent robot talking to the main characters. The protagonist asks the robot for data. Robot waits….. waits….. waits…. waits… seconds pass by. One… two… three… four… rolls some kind of graphic in front of the protagonist so that she doesn’t get angry with waiting. Six seconds… seven.. Finally, the robot utters an answer. Impressive?

No. What went wrong?

It’s not actually that simple. Yet again, it is. No rocket science. Let’s get back to some of culprits and the future of 5G in the second part!


Reading Time: < 1 minute

Building your own ubiset:

– buy a modern 3G phone
– install the following software:
* Google Maps (
* Tweets60 (
* Glogger Lite (
* Fring (though it’s a battery drain)

This set gives you access to a lot of info on the road. You can keep in touch
and document (Glogger) what you see. Fring is quite on drain on battery, so be
careful with that. My mobile was sucked empty in 1 day instead of normal
3-4 days (at that point of its life).

Also, read EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) instructions about how
to preserve your location privacy. At least if you decide to give away
information you know how it can be (ab)used.

[ubiset = equipment needed for ubiquitous presence, the ability to stay in touch with a network of services and friends]

The coming 4G network looks good!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Mobile phones are basically computers that operate over radio networks. The base stations
are one important component which create the universe of possibilities of what the
mobiles can do. Depending on the generation of the system, different capabilities are

The first mobile network, so called 1st generation, could relay speech from one mobile
phone to another. The speech was analog, so there was no analog-to-digital conversion.
Because of the speech signal being totally analog and without encryption, all conversations
could be easily eavesdropped. The NMT network operated in the 900 MHz frequency. When a
standard is set, the frequencies usually have to be internationally locked. In the coming GSM standard this standardization (excuse me the language) was a key player. Without it,
the flexible use of mobile phone around the world would not have been possible.

2nd generation system was essentially digital. Speech was digitized, and the bits were
compressed using very sophisticated algorithms. Because of compressing, a mobile phone
would save bandwidth. A mere 9.6 kBps or 9600 bits per second is sufficient to relay
speech. In addition to compression, the signal was encrypted so that eavesdropping
is not possible.
The 2nd gen. system was designed to have open standards, which improved the
market penetration. Since telecom companies could freely choose the equipment providers,
costs were kept at bay. GSM is a global success.

3G or third generation network increased the capacity of traffic between a phone
and the base station. Of course as with any new technology, the mobile phones have
to be specifically tailored to have 3G enabling chips.

The 4G network is a collection of new technology, but it essentially builds on the 3G.
There are interesting benefits what the new infrastructure can provide. A basic but often
needed thing is the increased transfer speeds. And we’re not talking just 2x speeds, but
an estimated 30x … 100x increases.

How has the culture of mobility evolved?
At first mobile phones were really bulky. A Motorola Dynatac 8000x mobile weighted
794 grams (28 ounces). Current phones in the year 2009 are a little bit over 80 grams;
take Nokia 6120 Classic, which weighs 89 grams. There are probably models which are
even less. Only people with “true need” had mobiles; police, firemen, people who
needed to receive orders or customer phone calls on the move. Then the phones
began to move into mainstream direction. Nowadays in 2009 you are an exception
if you’re carrying a mobile phone in your pocket. Some people abstain for a reason.
Some politicians are struggling with the amount of calls and messages they receive.

The culture of mobility is wide concept. There have been both practical and social
factors in shaping the culture. Social factors are by no means insignificant. In some
countries it may be considered extremely rude that one talks to a mobile phone. And in
other the context dictates a lot. It’s considered bad behaviour to talk to a mobile
in classroom, meetings, the church, cinema, or in the presence of your spouse – in
general, where talking may interfere with people’s concentration and mood.

The evolution of mobile phone use is tied in with the technology that phones offer.
First mobiles were very simple; they basically had the keypad and possibility to make
phone calls. The screen is black-and-white, with a poor resolution. Viewing images
or doing anything else was considered unnecessary. Then the evolution of the
phones started to bring whole new kind of features:
* email
* calculators and other utility programs
* phonebooks (list of numbers and names)
* alarm clocks
* stopwatches
* video
* games
* camera
* instant messenger
* calendar
* playback of music
* video call capability
* GPS navigation
* viewing TV

Even now as of 2009, the general population uses quite scarce amount of services.
According to a recent research only a mere 1/4 of Finns use mobile services. These
services are considered difficult to install, use, and the payment methods
are suspicous.

The iPhone seems to be one great ice-breaker that has increased network and service
usage considerably. It’s largely due to the immediate presentation of these
services in the phone’s user interface, and general good usability.