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Americans might not be able to take full advantage of the 5G iPhone – CNBC

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Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers the keynote address during the 2020 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) at Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, June 22, 2020.
Brooks Kraft | Apple, Inc. via Reuters

On Tuesday, Apple is expected to release its first iPhone models that support 5G networks.

Those iPhones will be able to tap into faster next-generation networks from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile for faster download speeds and stronger wireless connections.

In the United States, the carriers are still building their 5G networks. When the 5G iPhone comes out, depending on what bands it supports, some consumers looking for a sea change in terms of wireless speeds may have to wait until their carrier catches up with the phone’s capabilities.

Speeds for 5G will be faster, but not necessarily fast enough to be a reason for upgrading until U.S. carriers finish building their networks. So far, 5G download speeds are just 1.8 times faster than 4G LTE speeds in the United States, according to data from Opensignal, a firm that tracks wireless network speeds around the world.

But in other countries with 5G networks that use what’s called “mid-band frequency,” speeds are five times as fast as LTE, according to Opensignal.

5G is not a monolith. There are three different versions of 5G connections, which each use different radio frequencies and come with their own advantages and different speeds. Ultimately, carriers are aiming to build out all three different kinds of 5G in the next two or three years, but so far, no U.S. carrier has yet built all three different kinds of 5G into their commercial networks.

“In the U.S., when you see millimeter wave, and you see low-band, that isn’t 5G, that’s just two parts of 5G,” said Ian Fogg, vice president of analysis at Opensignal. “5G will have mid-band, too. What we’re seeing in the U.S. right now is version .9 or version 1.0, it’s going to improve a lot.”

That’s a lot of technical jargon to dig through, so let’s break down each type of 5G to make it as simple as possible.

High band, also known as millimeter wave, mmWave or ultra wideband

This is the fastest kind of 5G, but it has limitations based on the wireless frequency it uses. It can’t travel as far as other waves, which means that carriers need to build more stations to distribute it and it will primarily be aimed at dense, urban areas. Verizon has bet big on millimeter wave, which it calls ultra wideband, although it is currently only available in 36 cities, according to its website.

The advantage is that the max speeds from a millimeter wave connection can top 1 gigabit per second, according to carriers like Verizon. That will blow away current 4G LTE networks, potentially allowing users to download movies in seconds.

AT&T and T-Mobile are also currently building millimeter wave into their networks in major cities. So far, millimeter wave is a U.S.-based phenomenon, Fogg said, and other countries haven’t launched commercially available networks, only trials, although that could change if the new iPhones support millimeter wave.

Mid-band

Mid-band is the most common kind of 5G around the world, but it has not yet been widely built out in the United States because carriers need the FCC to sell rights to specific wavelengths they need to operate the network. Auctions are scheduled for later this year and next year. Fogg said it is the “Goldilocks band” for 5G that will balance distance it can cover with significantly higher speeds that U.S. consumers will notice.

In South Korea, more than 10% of wireless subscribers are currently on 5G, which means mid-band in the country. Mid-band speeds can range between 100 and 300 Mbps, which is comparable to a cable broadband connection. In the United States, T-Mobile released commercially available mid-band 5G in some cities and states in September, using rights to wavelengths it got from the Sprint merger.

Low-band

This is what advertisements from U.S. carriers boasting about their “nationwide 5G” coverage are referring to. It’s faster than 4G networks, but it’s the slowest kind of 5G. Its biggest advantage is that it provides the best range, and in the U.S., the wavelengths needed to operate it are already available to carriers.

Currently, AT&T and T-Mobile offer low-band 5G in a lot of different regions and states. In T-Mobile’s case, it is already advertising that it is available in all 50 states. But users will see the least improvement in terms of speed with low-band 5G, and it may not be worth upgrading to a 5G phone if only low-band is available. On average, the speeds won’t feel much faster than the 4G connection you’re used to.

Ultimately, carriers will offer all three kinds of 5G, and smartphones will be able to connect to multiple bands for better performance.

“We’re really right at the start of the 5G era. We’re seeing different U.S. carriers lead with one part of the 5G service,” Fogg said.

Eventually, carriers will offer service using millimeter wave in urban locations to provide very high speeds, mid-band to cover the majority of area with good speeds and good coverage, and low-band to reach large swaths of area.

An event like the 5G iPhone launch could also spur a wave of announcements from carriers around the world that they are expanding or turning on 5G networks. In countries like the U.S. and Japan where a large part of the population uses iPhones, having 5G iPhones on sale could build a critical mass of 5G users that prompt carriers to accelerate their network plans.

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Nokia and NASA to build moon's first cellular network – Siliconrepublic.com

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Nokia Bell Labs’ 4G LTE communications technology will help NASA advance its mission to land more people on the moon.

NASA has announced that Nokia will build the first ever cellular network on the moon. The Finnish company was selected as a partner for the space agency’s Tipping Point programme, which funds technologies at the cutting edge of space exploration.

The network will use 4G LTE – the precursor to 5G – technology on the moon’s surface. Nokia said it will transform lunar communications by delivering “reliable, high data rates while containing power, size and cost”.

Improved communications infrastructure on the moon is an aspect of NASA’s Artemis programme, which aims to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024 and to establish a sustainable presence on its surface by the end of the decade. NASA said that Nokia’s system could “support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds, and provide more reliability than current standards”.

The LTE tech will be developed by Nokia Bell Labs. Partnering with spaceflight firm Intuitive Machines, the research company will build and deploy an “ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end solution” on the moon’s surface in late 2022. The system will self-configure after deployment.

Its purpose will be “critical communication capabilities” for transmitting data, Nokia said. This will include command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming high-definition video.

It will also give astronauts wireless connectivity for voice and video communications, biometric data exchange and more, which are vital for “long-term human presence” on the moon.

Nokia CTO and president at Nokia Bell Labs, Marcus Weldon, said the system has been built on the company’s “rich and successful history in space technologies, from pioneering satellite communication to discovering the cosmic microwave background radiation produced by the big bang”.

The technology has been specially designed to withstand the harsh conditions of launch and landing on the moon, Nokia said, and to function in the extreme conditions of space. The company added that it plans to further commercialise its LTE product and investigate how 5G can be applied to space-exploration technologies.

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First iPad Air 4 Unboxing Video Shared Online – MacRumors

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The first unboxing video of the fourth-generation iPad Air has been shared online. The short video offers the first in-person look at the iPad Air‘s new Sky Blue color, packaging, and Touch ID in the power button.

Other than some demo videos from a Chinese media event last month, this unboxing video appears to be the first of its kind, ahead of more detailed unboxings and reviews expected from the press this week.

The new ‌iPad Air‌ features a 10.9-inch ‌edge-to-edge display, the A14 Bionic chip, Apple Pencil 2 support, and a range of color options including Silver, Space Gray, Rose Gold, Green, and Sky Blue.

Pre-orders of the fourth-generation ‌iPad Air‌ began on Friday, 16 October, and the first shipments are set to arrive on Friday, 23 October.

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Health Canada Urges B.C. Residents to Download COVID Alert App as Province Drags Feet – iPhone in Canada

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Health Canada is urging residents in British Columbia to download Canada’s COVID Alert app, as the province drags its feet to support the exposure notification app.

According to the Vancouver Sun, Health Canada told Postmedia News the COVID Alert app is still useful to have, despite the latter has not been officially supported yet in B.C.

“The COVID Alert app is free and voluntary, and is another tool to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and prevent future outbreaks,” said Health Canada spokesperson Maryse Durette, to Postmedia News.

“At all levels of uptake, COVID Alert can help reduce transmission. The more people who use the app the more effective it will be,” added Durette.

B.C. and the federal government are still in talks about the roll out of COVID Alert, added Health Canada. Alberta, the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Nunavut have also not officially adopted COVID Alert yet.

Durette said, “It’s still helpful to download COVID Alert from anywhere in the country, even if you can’t use it to report a diagnosis. That way, you’ll be notified if you come into contact with someone from a reporting province or territory or when people in your area are able to report a diagnosis.”

The B.C. Ministry of Health told Postmedia last week it was working with the federal government to get COVID Alert app active in the province. Clearly, B.C. is not working fast enough when other provinces have been able to support COVID Alert in a shorter timeframe.

Canada’s COVID Alert app is based on Google and Apple’s exposure notification framework, which leverages Bluetooth on devices for anonymous “handshakes” in the background. The app does not use GPS info or collect any user data. It has been vetted as safe by Canada’s privacy commissioner and provincial counterparts.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they can anonymously alert others that may have been in contact using COVID Alert, by obtaining a one-time use from their provincial health authority.

Provinces currently supporting COVID Alert:

  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Nova Scotia
  • Prince Edward Island

Still waiting for:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut
  • Yukon

The federal government of Canada recently acknowledged there was a bug within iOS that affected the COVID Alert app, and urged Canadians to update to iOS 14.0.1 to resolve the issue.

Since October 15, COVID Alert has been download downloaded over 4.5 million times, with 1,696 one-time keys issued.

Download links: 

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