5G Technology

In the realm of emerging technologies, there sure is a lot of buzz around 5G. You may be asking yourself though, how is 5G different from the tech I am currently using? The G in 5G stands for generation, making 5G the 5th generation of connective technology.

5G is not a replacement for 4G, but is a new technology that works with and complements the current 4G tech.  

So how is this different from 4G?  

Simply stated, 4G uses different hardware than 5G. While 4G utilizes frequencies below 6GHz, 5G uses extremely high frequencies of 30-300GHz. Higher frequencies mean much more data can be carried from one place to another. Currently, 4G supports about 4000 devices per square kilometer, whereas 5G will be able to support around 1 million per square kilometer.  

During my recent visit to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, the high density of people on their phones during parades made it nearly impossible to get service – even for my navigation app to tell me how to get out of there. 5G is the tech that solves this problem. 

5G reaches speeds that are twenty times faster than 4G. 4G currently has a peak speed of 1GB per second, 5G smashes that with up to 20GB per second. This is as fast as many fiber-optic wire networks. While this may seem like an incredible amount of data, it is important to note that these are peak speeds. Just as with current 4G connectivity, actual average speeds will depend on factors including location, connectivity, and hardware.  

The high frequency waves of 5G are also highly directional, meaning they can be aimed more precisely at each indivitual user. 5G uses a technology called Massive MIMO, which stands for multiple input, multiple output. Basically, this means a 5G signal will target and follow a single user throughout the entire cell site. If the signal is coming directly to you, there is a shorter lag time and more bandwidth available to you, as well as less wasted signal.  

Alternatively, 4G depends on clusters of antennae located a few miles apart to create a blanket of connection. Because of the higher frequency, 5G requires lots of smaller cells that are positioned every few hundred feet. Shorter wavelengths also mean that 5G is more easily absorbed by physical objects between you and the antenna. Physical objects not only include walls, but also rain and ambient humidity. Because environmental factors can greatly affect network speed, it is possible that your connection will be better outside than in your home. 

5G can also improve issues of latency. Latency is the time it takes for data from your device to pass from source to destination to be available for use. The average latency for 4G is about 50ms. The latency of 5G can be as low as 1ms and the good average around 10ms. For reference, the latency of the human eye is around 10ms. That means it takes about 10ms for you to figure out what you are seeing on the display. In other words, 5G is as fast if not faster than human perception. 

How will 5G impact your business? 

For average users, 4G offers plenty of bandwidth right now. It is fast enough to stream a 4K movie or play any online game without a noticeable lag. For those who uses wireless connectivity at home to replace a wired connection, they may find that they can connect more devices at once. Other than that, the average wireless experience is unlikely to be drastically different on 5G versus 4G. The real advantage of 5G lies in emerging technologies. 

By reducing lag to speeds to a level lower than human perception, 5G technology makes possible the practical use of many technologies that have been in development for years. Self driving cars can become a reality if they are able to communicate with the cloud as quickly and reliably as a human can operate a vehicle. Remote control robots are able to function in real time. Telemedicine can ramp up as physicians will be able to interact with patients and even perform surgery remotely. Cloud computing can handle more data faster, making telecommuting an option for many more workers. Smart traffic lights will be able to respond to traffic more efficiently. And, automation in any industry can go wireless for more flexibility and autonomous operations. The possibilities are truly endless. 

Samsung began rolling out 5G phones late last year. Apple is releasing devices in 2020. Even a few major cities have started to roll out antennae, powered by Verizon and AT&T. We expect mass market adoption around 2022, and then we will likely start to see 5G in non-major cities and in regular use. Technology is constantly evloving and it’s important that your business keeps up with the trends.  

Looking to explore the impact the 5G could have on your business? Contact us below and set up a free 30 min consultation.  

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