It’s safe to say that we are living in a fast-changing world, especially where technology is concerned. From self-driving cars to artificial intelligence, it seems there is an innovation every year. The latest is the development of 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication networks. With the final specifications announced in June, faster speed, shorter delays, and increased connectivity will become a reality within the next year or two.
3G and 4G/LTE ushered in the age of smartphones and many of the connected services we use today. Amazingly, 5G will offer significantly more, starting with faster speeds. Data transfers are projected to be at least 10x higher than 4G. That means downloading a high definition movie could take less than a second, whereas with the current generation a user could wait up to 10 minutes. Shorter delays can also be expected. Latency will be significantly lower which will make streaming videos and downloading files much quicker, while also causing fewer glitches than 4G. This next generation of mobile communications will have increased connectivity, meaning more people and more devices will be able to communicate at the same time.
The hype surrounding 5G is only getting bigger, but there’s still a long way to go before we will all experience lightning fast connectivity. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project agreed on the rules for 5G wireless connectivity in December, opening the gate for wireless carriers to begin development. Every major carrier has announced plans to launch in 2019, although it is likely that this will only be in select areas. Next-gen wireless requires different infrastructure than is currently in place, providing for a lot of heavy lifting beforehand. For example, to have shorter latencies, small cells will need to be close together. Nationwide 5G will likely expand from beyond major cities in 2019 and 2020.
Although 5G devices will have to play nice with 3G and 4G/LTE devices, people will have to purchase new cell phones if they want 5G capabilities. Seeing as this generation boasts the fastest connections we’ve ever seen, it is no surprise that prices will be rather high.
5G Beyond the Phone
The most obvious application for 5G is smartphones. However, tech leaders are much more excited about the other possibilities the next generation of wireless presents. For example, this is the first generation that is focused on IoT (the Internet of Things) and making processes instantaneous. When the cloud becomes real time, things are going to be changing significantly. From smart cities to artificial intelligence to self-driving cars, currently, everything and anything is being connected to the internet. With faster speeds, greater connectivity and shorter delays, it is inevitable that IoT will become more mainstream.
5G is just in the preliminary stages and it will be a while before we see significant strides made, but the possibilities are practically endless. We can see where it could go, but the reality is there’s no way of knowing where 5G will get us in the years to come.