What is 5G and How Will It Affect You?

Welcome to the new age of mobile connectivity.

During the Customer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2019, the arrival of 5G was one of the biggest sources of excitement.

Which is normal, because 5G will make the internet that we already worship mildly love even better, faster, amazing-er.

But what is 5G? How will it affect mere mortals like you and me? And seriously, how much faster can it possibly get?

Hold on to your seat.

A list of apps on a phone

From 1G to 4G LTE

First of all, the "G" here stands for "Generation" of wireless technology. 

Each of these generations has to meet certain standards, set by well, the people who make the rules.

But two of the most relevant categories are speed and reliability.

As you can guess, the higher the number before the "G," the faster and the more reliable the connection is.

To sum up:

1G - a connection is used to make simple calls.

2G - the second generation supports multimedia messaging. It could take what feels like ages to load a heavy MMS, though.

3G - this is the beginning of the usage of mobile internet that we use and love nowadays. From mobile Facebook to watching YouTube videos, if it's using the internet, with 3G, you can do it through your phone.

4G - Uber, Shopify, Instagram Live and all the fancy-schmancy apps on your phone would never have been possible without 4G. However, the term 4G did NOT meet all the standards necessary when it was first rolled out, especially regarding the speed.

4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) - this is much closer to the 4G standards than the previous 4G. For many experts, 4G LTE is the truest fourth generation of mobile connectivity as its speed is close to the standards set.

And now, unto the 5G.

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So, What Is 5G?

You may have noticed from the description that the leap between each generation has been pretty impressive.

(And if you are as old as we are, you have EXPERIENCED these leaps on a personal level.)

There is no doubt that the fifth generation will also make leaps and bounds in terms of speed and reliability of the connection.

5G will first work in adjacent with 4G until it takes over entirely. What makes 5G different in its concept is that 5G uses additional spectrums, called the Millimeter Wave spectrum, to build up the speed of the 4G and LTE.

In the laymen term:

5G will increase the speed and lower the latency (or the response time between devices) that will be necessary for future technology.

Not only that, here are the types of improvement we can expect from 5G:

  • A more precise connection as its unique radio frequencies is much more directional than the 4G.
  • A more user-friendly experience as 5G understands better the data being asked. Moreover, it can regulate the use of data as needed (low when not in use and high when streaming a video).

But, Aren't 3G and 4G Enough?

I mean, 3G and 4G are pretty good, right? We've got all the apps imaginable to make our lives easier. And the speed is not so bad, either.

However, in big cities, the mobile connection has begun to slow down. This is because we're almost running out of mobile spectrum to exploit (see above).

If we couple that issue with the prediction that by the end of 2024, the global mobile data traffic is expected to multiply by 5, it is sure 4G won't hold on for long.

Now, with 5G, this problem will be solved since it adds a massive amount of previously untapped spectrums for commercial usage.

a phone with snapchat logo

How Fast Is 5G?

5G is predicted to be twice as fast as 4G LTE.

If the LTE can reach 10 GB per second at its peak speed, 5G will go until 20GB per second.

Additionally, with the lower latency, we can expect a super smooth mobile connection since the signal takes less time to travel.

Of course, just like 4G, this will depend on the quality of your device and the area you're in.

Even if your device supports 5G (we can expect to see new devices hitting the market pretty soon), if you're in an area without 5G coverage, your speed will be reduced to 4G or even lower.

How Will 5G Revolutionize Our Lives?

Beyond the awesomely fast internet that we will love, 5G will affect almost every aspect of our lives in a never-seen-before way.

We will see a whole world of new opportunities open up before us.

New Devices + New Apps

New technology almost always comes with new devices to support it.

5G smartphones and tablets are expected to start hitting the market this year throughout 2020 (if it hasn't already).

What about apps? 5G will undoubtedly cause the birth of new applications that we cannot even fathom today as we have not yet experienced the extent to which 5G can do.

The app-making market is going to be as competitive as never before.

Progress in the AI and Virtual Reality

Artificially intelligent devices need a significant amount of bandwidth for them to function to their utmost capacity. 

With 5G, this will be possible.

In terms of Virtual Reality, we will continue to see the boom of VR and even the arrival of Augmented Reality (AR). Since we'll have higher speed and lower latency, we will be able to have a highly immersive experience.

person designing a robot

Connected Cars

In connection with AI, we can expect to see more and more connected cars roaming the streets once 5G becomes widely implemented (by 2020).

Cars in the 5G era will communicate with each other, reacting and anticipating their movements by analyzing other users on the street. Your car will know if the 10th car in front of you is breaking and will investigate why and decide on what to do next.

Yep, we all will own a Batmobile.

Medical Technology

Super precise surgery with robots, advanced imagery devices, and teleguided medical assistance. These won't exist only in sci-fi movies anymore but in real life.

The so-called URLLC (ultra-reliable low latency communications) component of 5G will make the connection between devices precise and well, ultra-reliable, which is vital when dealing with medical problems.

In Conclusion

All the things that we love in science fiction books or movies are not in the "distant" future anymore. With 5G, they happen way sooner than we previously thought.

The implementation will, of course, take a lot of time and careful planning. But we can see that some carriers have started investing and laying down the route for 5G.

The question is: are we ready for such a revolution?






Serina Rajagukguk

Serina is a writer whose passion includes learning all about new technology and trying to explain it in a layman term. 

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