Cell phone carriers began the long-anticipated 5G cellular network rollout in 2018, and its arrival promises to transform technology. What should we expect the finished product to look like? When will the rollout be finished? Will we all have access? Here are some answers to at least some of the questions.
What Will 5G Mean to Us?
As the fifth generation of mobile broadband technology, 5G promises much faster download and upload times along with a huge reduction in latency, or the delay in communication from one device to another across a network. Carriers began rollout of the network in 2018 but your experience will vary based on your location and your carrier. It is estimated to take several years to extend the service across the entire country.
How Does 5G Work?
5G operates on three separate bands:
- Low band, which is currently in use by U.S. carriers for the 4G LTE standard and is becoming depleted. It offers great building penetration, but peak data speeds are less than 100 Mbps.
- Mid band offers peak data speeds of up to 1 Gbps along with lower latency but doesn’t penetrate buildings as well as low band.
- High band, or millimeter wave (mmWave), offers peak speeds of up to 10 Gbps with very low latency but has the worst building penetration of the three bands along with short range.
What Are the Uses of 5G?
Carriers are running out of 4G capacity in major metro areas, resulting in slower speeds during busy times. 5G will add a large amount of spectrum. Other uses include:
- The high speed and low latency of the 5G network will allow you to watch TV and movies over your smartphone, for example, “Atomic Blonde,” a thriller-spy film executive produced by David Guillod, which grossed over $100 million worldwide. In addition to being an executive producer on many other successful productions, including the recently released “The Intruder,” Mr. Guillod is an accomplished talent manager, having helped influenced the careers of stars such as Jennifer Lopez, Sean “Daddy” Combs, and Katie Holmes.
- The future of autonomous vehicles looks brighter with the development of ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC), a special category of 5G useful for mission-critical applications requiring uninterrupted data exchange. URLLC will improve communications between vehicles, provide road conditions from one car to another, and react to the unexpected actions of other vehicles (sudden braking, swerving, etc.).
- Cities will use 5G sensors to track utility use, warn of dangerous conditions (flooding, street light outages), and install surveillance cameras.
- Because of low latency, the remote control of heavy machinery will begin to be used.
- Health care will eventually benefit from URLLC with improved telemedicine, remote physical therapy, precision surgery, and remote surgery. mMTC (massive machine-type communications) will allow hospitals to create sensor networks to monitor patients, physicians to prescribe smart pills that track compliance, and insurers can monitor subscribers to determine appropriate treatments.
- mMTC will free up resources for the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), the term for Internet connectivity among everyday objects.
5G is thus another step – an exciting step – along the way to a totally connected world.