A Quick Crash Course on What You Need to Know About 5G

5G 101

Sliced bread, move over. 5G is coming, ushering in a new era of digital transformation and making everything in life faster, smarter and better! At least that’s what all the industry players are saying. In fact, to this point, that’s about the only thing they agree upon, as they keep trying to settle on a definition of what the "real” 5G actually is. There are some things that we know for sure though, and you’d be wise to know them, too. With that, we humbly submit this quick crash course on 5G:

1. What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless connectivity, which utilizes a higher-frequency band of the wireless spectrum to transfer data more rapidly than the lower-frequency band used in today’s 4G LTE. And what does that mean for those of us who didn’t major in quantum mechanics? It means things are about to get a lot faster, like 10 to 100 times faster than your typical cellular connection. 5G is capable of surpassing the 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) threshold and could even reach 10 Gbps.

2. How does 5G work?

Okay, back to the physics stuff for a minute... The 5G networks will operate in the millimeter wave spectrum—between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. The advantage of using the millimeter wave spectrum is that it sends large amounts of data at very high speeds and, because the frequency is so high, it experiences little interference from most surrounding signals. The challenge is, they don't travel as far as the lower-frequency waves, meaning 5G network carriers will have to use a lot more antennas to get the same coverage as 4G LTE.

3. What are the benefits?

Imagine your car stopping you at an intersection because it senses another vehicle is about to run the red light. Or a specialist performing a complex operation on a patient 10,000 miles away. Or a smart home that alerts you when your back deck is getting too hot for your pet. The real-world applications of 5G can be life-altering, even life-saving. The key benefit of this new technology, along with greater speed, is its low latency—that is, its virtually lag-free connection, which is huge not just for automotive or medical applications, but for simple activities like video conferencing or multiplayer gaming.

4. Will it cost more?

When 4G LTE rolled out, there was no upgrade in price...though you did have to buy a new phone. But by all early indications, it appears adding 5G will mean a bump in your bill. Some carriers have announced their new pricing, which falls somewhere in the $10-extra/month range. Prices and plans vary, of course.

5. When will 5G be available?

The short answer is, sometime in 2020. While some telecom service providers have begun testing their 5G technologies, the upgrade will require a huge infrastructure deployment, involving new antennas, new devices, and new tech inside your phone. In reality, it could be a few years before 5G becomes widely available to the public. So, for the time being, it’s still up to you to keep an eye out for those red-light-ignoring drivers.

Have any questions about bringing the latest wireless and wired communication technologies and services to your business? Contact us today. We offer a suite of solutions that can help your organization operate more efficiently and productively before and after the arrival of 5G!

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