Pretty soon everything else will be 5G, if you’re reading this you probably have an internet connection but what if we told you it could be so much faster.
Fast like a cheetah with a rocket tied to its back, 5G is here but what is it and will it live up to the hype.
We have the facts.
The first generation cellular network known as 1G was launched in Japan in 1979, the first phones weighed over two pounds and cost the equivalent of $10,000 today making the iPhone X look almost affordable right now.
Downloading a 1GB picture of Lionel Richie on 1G would take 1 month, 18 days, 17 hours, 2 minutes and 47 seconds. Even in the early days‘ telephone and electronics companies knew that they were on to something but they needed to dial it in fast, so they switched from an analogue radio signal to digital transmission.
There were only a few thousand cellular phones in use right now but that number is expected to grow considerably within the next few years during cellular evolution.
And 2G was born, with 2G a one-gigabyte photo would only take 1 day, 13 hours, 16 minutes and 57 seconds to download. The digital era meant a phone could now send text-based messages but things were still clunky and slow.
The 3G was a game-changer opening cell phones and computers to that small culture shift called the internet. Under 3G, a one-gigabyte picture of Backstreet Boys would take between 16 hours, 34 minutes and 12 seconds to 1 hour, 11 minutes and 34 seconds depending on your connection.
Bringing us to today’s broadband standard- 4G. 4G gave us strong video capabilities, basic gameplay and social media but we live in a full-on video driven world.
Now in 4G land, a one-gigabyte picture would take 1 minute and 25 seconds to download completely on a good day, that is a huge jump from 3G but not even close to the jump to the next generation. So without further ado, meet 5G.
5G means 5th generation and it solves the biggest problem holding back 4G, that is, latency or lagging speed. Our phones today operate at about 50 milliseconds of latency, 5G, however, runs at less than one millisecond of latency you will just have to trust that means really fast connection.
Assuming a speed of 10 gigabytes per second, in 5g it would take less than a second to download a one-gigabyte photo and with all your free time it takes only another 30 seconds to download the entire first season of Game of Thrones in HD.
This transformation rewrites the future in countless ways and it already has a name the “Internet of Things or IoT” and everything from remotely controlled surgeries to super smart homes to truly autonomous vehicles will be connected but to achieve instantaneous speeds the infrastructure must come with it.
5G networks require a completely new system of cell towers that operate at a different frequency that must be positioned closer to people’s homes and businesses to repeat their signals.
The world’s leading economies are all vying to be the first to go 5G on a national scale and experts say the US, China and South Korea are the frontrunners for an economic boost of 500 billion dollars and 3 million new jobs but there’s a catch, building the infrastructure will cost lots and lots of money.
For example in South Korea, with a small population and great infrastructure, the cost of 5G is set to exceed 8 billion dollars for a single service provider and according to Bloomberg the upgrade to 5G would cost 200 billion dollars a year in order to be built.
In the USA, AT&T became the first wireless carrier to launch a mobile network based on the 5G standard, it went live in 12 cities on December 18th, 2018 but it’s not fully operational yet.
Once it is, however, AT&T said it will charge consumers $70 per month for 15 gigabytes which is not exactly cheap and t-mobile promised to have 5G up and running in 30 cities with actual usage starting this year and Verizon plans to release a 5G hotspot as well.
Mobile companies will do their best to market and advertise their efforts for the latest 5G enabled phone.
We’ve seen this before with the transition from 3G and 4G, if you remember after 4G was rolled out it took some time before we saw a significant speed increase. So give yourself time before diving headfirst into 5G related products.
That 5G enable phone is no better than the current 4G without the infrastructure upgrades so beware of the early rollouts that use 5G buzz words or other gimmicks like ultra-wideband, 5G+ and 5G evolution. They may not actually give you the speeds that 5G promises and get ready for more confusing names with 6G Wireless and 10G broadband just around the corner.
The momentum for 5G is coming fast but not quite cheetah with a rocket fast and even so it’s slated to be pretty awesome.