1G gave us the ability to talk.  2G gave us the ability to text. 3G gave us fast web browsing.  4G gave us faster web browsing. 5G is supposed to be the holy grail.  This technology is speculated to be revolutionary in terms of technological advancement.  It isn’t going to simply change your life. It is predicted that 5G will change the world.  We aren’t talking about a small step for mankind here. We are talking about a giant leap. Nonetheless, everything has advantages as well as disadvantages.  In the following article we will discuss some of the concepts behind this emerging smartphone technology.


The upside


Let us start with the good news first.  5G has a plethora of advantages over our existing 4G wireless network.  All of these advances are made possible by utilizing the higher bands of frequency.  4G operates in the 6 GHz or less frequency range, whereas 5G operates in the 30-300 GHz range.  This will make a monumental difference in terms of speed, capacity and latency. Some have said that 5G will be ten times faster than 4G. Some have said fifty times faster.  The most common theory as of late is that it will be nearly one thousand times faster. The bottom line is that we expect it will be significantly faster. In addition to the increase in speed, there will also be an increase in bandwidth.  This basically means that a lot more devices will be able to connect and you will be able to send and receive way more data than ever before. Another positive is the latency factor. There almost isn’t any latency. Seriously. Latency is almost nonexistent with this new wireless network.  The existing 4G model has on average 70 ms (milliseconds) of latency, which already isn’t bad. However, 5G boasts potentially only allowing 1 ms of latency. If that isn’t enough for you, to put the icing on the cake, 5G will use less power. That means your battery life on a smartphone will improve.  So I guess that would be the cherry on top.


The downside


Now let us not get too ahead of ourselves.  Nothing great comes easy. Especially something as complex as implementing an entirely new model of wireless connectivity.  The main challenge this technology will face is its range. This is simply due to the fact that using the higher frequency bands results in a shorter range.  4G is capable of transmitting a signal over 10 kilometers. 5G would only allow for a maximum range of 300 meters. That is a drastic difference in distance. In order to make up for the loss of coverage, there will have to be an innovative shift in infrastructure, which is the second obstacle moving forward with the technology.  We are going to have to shift from the traditional method of using cell towers towards a large scale implementation of small cells, which would be installed on telephone lines and buildings. You can think of these small cells similar to relays. They will be used to extend the signal and increase the overall range of connectivity.


The impact


Ok so we have discussed the pros and cons, but let us take a look at the bigger picture.  What does this mean for society as a whole? First of all, this will open the door for major advances in up-and-coming technologies, such as autonomous cars, drones, and even virtual reality.  This will not only affect individuals but businesses as well. New industries can be created with the integration of 5G as a mainstream technology. Consumers will have to upgrade their smartphone devices to those that are compatible with the new network of course.  After they do so, who knows what apps will be created that will allow them to reap the benefits of this new network?




So now it is time for the big question.  When does all this go live? Well, apparently they have already begun testing this technology and even installed some 5G home networks.  As of now, the main launch date is scheduled for March 2020. Even after the 5G era begins, it will still coexist with 4G and existing technologies for a while before it adapts to a standalone role of its own.  Until then, all we can do is dream of what the future holds and all the possibilities that 5G will allow.


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