I am so, so tired of reading stories proclaiming the mobile wonders of the world of tomorrow. 5G will bring up 8K videos to our self-driving cars, and it will do it 100 times faster than 4G! Give me a break.

I am not cynical. I am realistic. And the reality is that 5G will not be that fast. And at least for the next few years, it will be available in just a few cities, and only in a few square blocks of those. In other words, it would be foolish this year to pay extra for any of the handful of 5G phones that will be available. Same goes for 2020. And, for that matter, 2021.

Let me tell you why.

First, 5G is a whole mess of technologies. Only one of those, T-Mobile’s 600MHz 5G network, will be broadly available. That’s because T-Mobile has long deployed a 600MHz 4G network, which tops out at about 10-20 Mbps. It should be relatively easy to adapt that to 600MHz 5G, which could hit speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

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