After all the trumpets and fanfare, 5G is finally coming. 5G is the fifth, and latest, generation of connectivity. According to experts, it will be ready for prime use by the end of 2018. Currently, the hardware is being tested, the software is being fine-tuned, and carriers are preparing for 5G deployment.
What is 5G?
5G is not just about faster smartphones. Because of its higher speeds, the new standard is also set to initiate new possibilities for virtual and augmented reality, the Internet of Things and connected vehicles. In fact, it’s about to change any arena in which machines need to communicate with each other.
You will need to buy a new smartphone to take advantage of 5G’s capabilities. But according to Robert J. Topol, Intel’s general manager for 5G business and technology, the future of 5G is the beginning of the “post-smartphone era.”
What’s Happened With 5G So Far?
The 5G protocol was completed in June 2018. Qualcomm has made the antennas which will be used by 5G-capable smartphones. Because they are using millimeter-wave frequencies, which will allow for faster speeds. The first range of 5G smartphones is due to appear early in 2019.
Motorola is likely to be the first smartphone manufacturer to begin wheeling out 5G-ready phones. The Moto Mod will be one of the new models. Exclusive to Verizon, this $480 phone should be available in 2019 as soon as Verizon’s 5G network is up and running.
How Will 5G Impact Existing Applications?
Rather than replace the current 4G network, 5G will supplement it by adding increased bandwidth to mobile broadband, as well as improving its capacity and reliability. This is possible thanks to the addition of thousands of mini antennae to buildings, utility poles, and cell towers. Mobile speeds will make an impressive leap from 100 Mbps to 10 Gbps, making it competitive with even fiber-optic wired networks.
Some of the Advances 5G Will Bring
As well as speeding up movie and music downloads, 5G is set to advance the use of every existing (and future) smart technology. Here are just a few potential uses:
- Connecting with smart apparel such as temperature-adjustable sportswear
- Enhancing the use of prosthetic devices
- Monitoring patients with internal health monitors
- Monitoring and adjusting home heating and air systems
- Optimizing home water usage
- Self-adjusting home and business security systems
- Assisting seniors in monitoring their medication use
- Connecting to online health services
- Improving smart agriculture
- Facilitating the use of drones for weather assessment
What Wireless Carriers Are Doing
- AT&T: This carrier intends to launch 5G services in 12 cities throughout the U.S. by the end of 2018. As yet, they have not announced which ones.
- Verizon: Verizon is launching fixed 5G to homes in Sacramento, California and four additional locations in 2018. It has not yet released plans for mobile 5G.
- Sprint: In the early part of 2019, Sprint will launch 5G services in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Washington DC, Phoenix, and New York.
- T-Mobile: This carrier is also planning an early 2019 launch with nationwide coverage by the end of 2020. In 2018, they began installing 5G-ready equipment in 30 U.S. cities including Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York.
5G Goes Beyond Smartphones
Every smartphone user dreams of unlimited data, but there’s a lot more to 5G for the wireless generation than just phones. For example, 5G is set to impact everything from your home security system to automated vehicles. It’s going to enable all your internet-connected devices to communicate much faster without hang-ups. Experts are ready to welcome 5G as one of the major events of this data age because it will enable huge amounts of data to be transmitted and used by devices that require large bundles of information.
The shift to 5G is a big deal because it will require all local, state and federal agencies to coordinate together. For example, to make sure that local governments don’t postpone installation of the new 5G infrastructure, the Federal Communications Commission is making new radio frequencies available. Frequencies which rely on 5G.
One concern this aspect of 5G has raised is that local councils may slow down the 5G network approval process. Some skeptics are also pointing out that the 5G network launch may be used by local governments as an opportunity to charge high fees for the required installation permits. Additionally, questions have been raised about the effects of 5G networks on health. How these aspects of the rollout will pan out remains to be seen.
As well as the advantages already discussed, 5G offers the potential to revamp many local industries including healthcare, education, agriculture, entertainment, manufacturing, and energy. So, it’s hardly surprising that policymakers are eager to welcome the 5G data revolution.