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Mobile network technology has changed a lot since the first generation was introduced a few decades ago. Now, the fifth generation—5G—promises faster and more reliable data transmission than ever before.
5G refers to the fifth generation of mobile networks. It’s designed to augment existing 4G LTE cellular networks or even replace them completely. Each generation is defined by several factors, like the technology used, the amount of time between sending and receiving a signal (latency), and the speed of data transmission over a network to connected devices. 5G networks promise gigabit speeds—or data transmission speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps. 5G service also vastly reduces latency and can expand coverage to remote areas.
But 5G is more of a blueprint because the supporting infrastructure is limited to a small number of areas. South Korea already performed a nationwide 5G rollout, and Japan plans to complete its integration before hosting the next Olympics. The United States’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—and other jurisdictions like Australia, China, and Europe—are all working with regional service providers to expand 5G coverage.
The technology supporting 5G networks are complex. Today’s networks rely on large, high-powered cell towers that send low-frequency (under 6 GHz) signals over long distances. The problem is that low radio frequencies can’t transmit data fast enough to accommodate the fast speeds that 5G service is supposed to reach.
The number of connected devices is also increasing, which will slow down speeds even further—which is why new technologies will have to be employed.
Because 4G is getting crowded.
The surge in demand will inevitably cause problems for consumers, corporations, governments—everyone. Latency will increase, downloads will get slower, and overall performance will suffer. And as cell phones become more prevalent, the inconvenience for consumers is obvious. Services that rely on mobile data to function (finance, emergency services, and data security) will experience growing delays and failures in transmitting and receiving data.
5G intends to solve these problems by taking advantage of several different technologies that work together, increasing download speeds by up to 10 times that of 4G and shaving latency down to as little as 1 millisecond.
There are obvious advantages to 5G use as it relates to speed, latency, and bandwidth. Consumers will enjoy faster downloads, reduced social media buffering, 4K mobile phone games, as well as enhanced virtual reality experiences.
5G also has use cases well beyond consumerism. This is the wireless technology that will enable instantaneous transmission of enormous amounts of data, creating a nearly seamless connection between the digital and physical worlds.
Beyond 5G phones, imagine all kinds of 5G devices working together to create 5G homes. This is the future of 5G wireless networks. 5G technology may even generate US$13.2 trillion of goods and services—and create as many as 22.3 million jobs—by 2035.
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