How 5G Will Change Everything (Again)
If you saw the 2002 film Minority Report, you’ll probably remember the scene
when chief John Anderton, played by Tom Cruise, donned hi-tech gloves which allowed him to manipulate large amounts of data on a huge holographic display. Photos and videos streamed instantly as he flipped through them using his hands akin to a maestro conducting a symphony. It was a technology lover’s fantasy. I bet that moment would not have been so exciting had he been on a 4G LTE mobile connection with the content buffering every few seconds. It’s not a far stretch to believe that today, in 2018, this type of computer system could be developed. Virtual and augmented reality are now common place in the tech world. If only internet speeds and reliability could be, well, faster and more reliable.
What is 5G?
In 1991, the 2nd generation of mobile technology was launched enabling 2G/GSM connectivity on mobile devices. It was replaced by 3G in 1998 which was later replaced by 4G LTE in 2008. Mobile devices could be used to stream large amounts audio and video content right over the air and we fell in love with them. Still, technology has progressed so much that now our devices are able to communicate with other devices. The need for reliable wireless connections and speed has necessitated the development of the 5th generation of mobile technology or 5G. 5G networks use super-high frequencies to transmit data within an unused bandwidth that is wide enough for everyone (translation; it is ridiculously fast and can connect lots of devices at the same time).
How fast is 5G?
It depends on who you ask because it is still in the works but some experts say it will be up to 1,000 times faster than 4G LTE. Today in your home, you’re cable company is most likely providing you with speeds between 20Mbs (20 Megabits per second) and 1GBs (1 Gigabits per second). 5G specifications claim that average download speed will be 10GBs-20GBs with virtually no lag. Imagine a wireless connection that’s 20-100 times faster than your wired internet connection at home!
What are some advantages of 5g?
For starters, you’ll be able to download a 2-hour HD movie on your mobile device in less than 10 seconds. Self-driving cars will be able to not only communicate with the driver, but they’ll be able to communicate with other self-driving cars and smart roads to exchange large amounts of data in fractions of a second to keep us all safe on the roads. A surgeon will be able to guide a robot performing a surgery on the other side of the globe without any lag and in ultra-high resolution. Physical therapy is one field that is likely to benefit as patients will be able to put on a pair of augmented reality glasses and have a therapist work with them in the comfort of their own home. The military, logistics and shipping, and even farming all stand to gain benefits from 5g networks connectivity. Your smart home will become infinitely smarter and smart cities will spring up from coast to coast.
When is 5G coming?
The good news is that the 3GPP International Wireless Consortium approved the technology earlier this year. In 2019, the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union is expected to review and approve 5G standards. The bad news is that rolling out 5G will cost communications companies hundreds of millions of dollars. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and carriers around the world are all working on plans to integrate current infrastructure and subsidize some of those costs but are proceeding with caution until the standards are finalized. The other piece of bad news is that none of our devices will be able to use 5G which means, just like all previous generations of devices, our current mobile phones, tablets, and laptops will become obsolete as new, 5G versions come out. Most mobile carriers and device makers agree that the networks and devices should start to come online in 2020.
One thing is for sure; 5g will change life as we know it today and it’s coming soon with or without Tom Cruise.