October 19, 2020
5G, the fifth-generation mobile network, will become the new standard of wireless communication, transforming every facet of our lives. Through enhanced connectivity and speeds ten times faster than 4G LTE, 5G will drive technological innovations for consumers and businesses, fundamentally changing how the world connects and communicates.
How does it work?
Using new radio frequencies, 5G provides three different experiences; low, middle, and high. Low-band 5G has the longest wavelengths, allowing it to travel great distances, but at speeds only 20% faster than 4G. Mid-band 5G balances speed and coverage, using mid-length waves that travel great distances with significantly faster speeds than low-band. Finally, high-band 5G provides users with the fastest speeds but remains limited to small areas, as shorter waves cannot penetrate buildings.
Because 5G uses shorter wavelengths, carriers must build more cell towers to ensure a reliable and fast signal. With this, network providers have begun to slowly build out their 5G coverage city by city, putting in place the necessary infrastructure for the fastest speeds possible. Though 5G is available nationwide, few cities have high-band networks due to a lack of cell towers, leaving most locations with low-band or mid-band speeds. As carriers continue adding cell towers across the U.S., speed will improve, and more 5G compatible devices will become available on the market.
How is it different from 4G?
5G provides numerous benefits over 4G in terms of reliability, speed, and capacity. With the ability to take on more devices, 5G will eliminate connectivity issues in crowded locations. In addition, 5G’s higher frequency spectrum can carry large amounts of traffic and data, decreasing download times. 5G networks also reduce latency through a closer network of signals, preventing fallout and allowing for speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G. Finally, 5G consumes less energy than 4G, expanding the capabilities of battery-powered devices. Unlike the switch from 3G to 4G, 5G will work side-by-side with existing networks, falling back on LTE services when 5G is unavailable. Though 5G will require new compatible devices, 4G networks will only improve as 5G capabilities move into more areas.
What does 5G mean for the future?
5G has the potential to completely transform society, accelerating digital transformation in numerous industries while making it easier to connect with others. With low-latency and superfast speeds, 5G will drastically improve IoT capabilities, leading to innovations in household appliances, health devices, city infrastructure, and factory processes. 5G will also accelerate the growth of remote work and services by improving reliability and the speed at which people can connect. From telemedicine, virtual classrooms, remote work, and more, advancements in digital communication are just beginning. Finally, 5G may bring autonomous vehicles into the mainstream, allowing cars to collect performance, road, and security information to owners and dealerships. Though it will take years for 5G to become fully available, this new network is bound to pave the way for a brighter future.