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🌞 Good morning! It’s the last day of April. May is usually a good month, right? I think? Let’s go May!
April 30, 2021
The mmWave problem
Picture of one of Gogo's internet towers

OpenSignal published two reports this week looking at, among other things, the take-up of 5G and mmWave 5G technology.

The numbers look shockingly bad: AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon each deliver a paltry connection time to phones capable of mmWave 5G. 

From the report:

  • “In this 90-day period, our Verizon users saw a mean time connected to mmWave 5G of 0.8 percent compared with 0.5 percent on AT&T and T-Mobile. However, despite Verizon appearing to be ahead this result actually represents a statistical tie because of overlapping confidence intervals with AT&T.”
  • Verizon wins (or ties) with 0.8%? That seems bad, right?
202104 usa 5g mmwave report chart2
Tristan Rayner / Android Authority

mmWave: The good and the bad

  • It’s not as bad as it looks, though it is bad.
  • When connected to mmWave, at least, download speeds are ripping. 
  • mmWave 5G average download speeds were 692.9Mbps for Verizon, 232.7Mbps for AT&T, and 215.3Mbps for T-Mobile. When you can get it, it works.
  • Now, mmWave signals are high-frequency radio waves that don’t travel well, and are easily blocked by walls, trees, and so on.
  • mmWave is therefore most likely to be useful at events, outdoors, or in malls, and on some roadways.
  • So during winter, during a pandemic, your phone sitting at home is definitely less likely to get mmWave reception.
  • As the report says, seasonal changes should happen. In summer, people will be out, mmWave connections will happen more, and networks will continue to be rolling out antennas.
  • That said… what’s been hyped with 5G and mmWave has been way overblown.
  • There’s not a lot of reason now, and probably not a lot of reason in the next year or so, to worry about making sure the phone you pick up has mmWave connection.
  • 5G generally is a little better though.

5G spectrum overall:

  • The OpenSignal report shows across the full spectrum, not just mmWave, 5G availability was more healthy: 5G was available 33.1 percent of the time on T-Mobile, 20.5 percent on AT&T, and 11.2 percent of the time on Verizon.
  • That’s down to T-Mobile focusing on “600 MHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum assets,” says the report.

So, look, there’s still a clash between networks (and, recently, Apple) hyping 5G. I’m probably guilty of being too excited for 5G too. Then came reality. 

  • Even aside from the transformational hype around the technology, the reality is that 5G right now is pretty much just a multiple faster than 4G LTE, if and when you can get it.
Roundup

📁 Google is bringing sweeping policy changes to Play Store app titles, icons, for a more honest, clear presentation of apps (Android Authority).

💻 Acer Chromebook Spin 513 review: Nailing the basics matters (Android Authority).

📦 Amazon Prime Day 2021 will happen in June this year, a little earlier than the usual timing in July. Was postponed to October last year during the pandemic (Android Authority).

🍏 Apple says the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro will actually work with the old Magic Keyboard, but ‘may not precisely fit when closed’. Unclear why it took Apple a week to publicly talk about this. (9to5Mac).

🐠 Want to save an island’s coral reefs? Get rid of invasive rats, which drive off birds, which sets the whole thing into chaos (Ars Technica).

💰 They were ancient internet memes. Now NFTs are making them rich (Wired).

💵 Speaking of internet ancients: Myspace Tom got it right. He got rich and then just enjoyed being rich, not getting involved in *gestures generally at everything* (The Verge).

🛫 Stratolaunch completes second flight of world’s largest plane, coming two years after the first flight (Space).

🚁 Mars Ingenuity helicopter’s fourth flight doesn’t get off ground… yet (CNET).

🌈 “If blue, red and yellow are the primary colors then why are red, blue, green (RBG) used for generating colors in computer programs?” (r/askscience)

Friday Fun
ever given

The Ever Given is still stuck in the Great Bitter Lake, as a bitter feud over who’s paying who what (the demand from the Suez Canal Authority is $960 million) stretches into months. 

Now, we’re finally learning what kind of cargo is stuck in the Ever Given’s 18,000 containers (via Jalopnik).

American Shipper, which publishes, um, shipping news, has an anonymous source:

Maritime sources with knowledge of the Ever Given’s manifest tell American Shipper the following product categories are on the vessel, in order from the most twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to the least: electronics, machinery and parts, household goods, furniture and footwear. For legal reasons, American Shipper is not allowed to provide exact percentages.

I mean, in that mass of 18,000 containers, you’d probably expect one of everything, but there you go.

As for getting the cargo off the boat while it just sits there in Egypt? No. No, no no.

…[t]here’s no equipment capable of removing containers stacked eight or nine high where the Ever Given is currently anchored.

You’d need huge cranes that can reach across, in this case, 23 rows of containers. And they only really exist in the big Asian and European ports or maybe in LA Long Beach. But they don’t exist in Egypt.

Welp.

Have a better weekend than the Ever Given,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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