With the current rate of our technological advances, it’s not hard to assume that the future will depend highly on connectivity and 5G is here to make it reality. From having access to artificial intelligence all the way to telemedicine, everything that every individual needs to make our lives easier and safer will start to completely demand high-speed and accessible internet connections.
In order to keep up with the burst of new connected gadgets and technology, the influx of video streaming, social media, and all that millennial stuff, the mobile industry has been developing 5G, the fifth and newest generation of wireless networking.
What we’re being told to expect is that 5G will make it possible for speeds of 10 gigabits per second to be accessible through your phone. In contrast, that’s at least 600 times faster than the current 4G technology and about 10 times faster compared to standard home broadband services. In simpler terms, 5G will be fast enough for you to download a 4K high-definition video in less than 30 seconds.
Carriers promise that this technology will be launched nationwide by 2020, but the initial 5G networks won’t be as fast as it potentially could. Because 5G is not an individual technology, rather a combination of multiple technologies, making them accessible nationwide would probably require a fundamentally complex approach compared to when we built 4G networks.
Demos and pilot programs were launched by some carriers, but mobile networks that can consistently provide the fastest speeds might not be publicly available for years.
So, when can we actually get access to 5G? Top carriers, mobile manufacturers, and even politicians from all sides of the political spectrum are worried that the American mobile industry would follow the steps of Europe and Japan if we don’t roll out 5G ASAP.
The US is especially worried with China. The fear comes from the fact that if China beats us to 5G, its rapidly-growing tech industry will succeed in establishing the next big mobile platform. With the tight race in the AI development, 5G could pave the way for China to get the edge. Because with more devices connected to networks, the more data there is to train algorithms. To rapidly develop 5G networks, it needs access to more wireless frequencies and fewer infrastructure regulations. 5G is commonly associated with millimeter-wave technology that takes advantage of the very end of the wireless spectrum with tons of unused bandwidth. This is the technology that could make 10-Gbps speeds possible, but of course, it’s not without a price.
Millimeter-wave signals are not as reliable in terms of long distances. It’s also vulnerable to disruptions through trees, people, and rain. So for it to be reliable in terms of mobile use, carriers will have to build several access points in every location instead of only having to build one cell tower, which is what we have today. Having to have all these added access points will surely be expensive and time-consuming so, there is a possibility that carriers would choose not to build 5G networks in rural and low-income areas wherein profit would not be as great.
So as of now, 5G still feels like a distant dream, especially for the lower-middle-class society. But hopefully, as technological advances improve even further, so does our chance to experience this technological breakthrough.
This short video offers a quick look at what this new technology might have to offer in the near future: