5g technology

What Is 5G and How Will We Use It?

Read Time: 3 minutes

5G is a term that appears more and more often in the news, but what is it? Will it be any different than the 4G or 4G LTE that we currently access with our mobile devices? As 5G technology moves closer to becoming a mainstream option, let’s take a closer look at this new technology and how we might use it in the future.

What Is 5G?

First, what is 5G, and how will it differ from its mobile internet predecessors?

5G mobile internet will, in theory, range anywhere from 10 to 100 times faster than 4G LTE, offering speeds of up to 10Gbps. For comparison, the average 4G LTE speed is between five and 12 Mbps. The average home internet speed is around 100Mbps. It will also offer 1000 times the bandwidth and more than 100 times the number of connected devices.

Despite this widespread use, 5G technology will also reduce network energy usage by up to 90%. It will do this while providing 99.99999% availability and 100% coverage.

Technology companies have set the stage for a 5G network since 2012 when ITU-R launched a program titled “IMT for 2020 and Beyond.” It hasn’t been an easy road though. Verizon claimed to be working toward a 5G network, and that it was providing it to a select few customers as a test. However, it appears to have fallen flat on its face. T-Mobile has even called out Verizon and AT&T for outright lying about their 5G network and its capabilities.

What could 5G mobile internet do for us heading into the future?

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The Benefits of 5G Technology

5G internet doesn’t just bring speed. It’s bringing low latency, reducing the lag between action and response. This could enable surgeons to remotely perform surgeries over great distances with the same accuracy as if they were in the same room as the patient. How? It’s conducted through 5G internet and haptic feedback. Dubbed the “Internet of Skills,” a high-speed, low-latency network like the one these companies promise could change the way we think of skill sharing. Remote surgery could prevent patients from traveling long distances to receive the surgery they need.

Manufacturing and industry are also beginning to adopt equipment that relies on IIoT or the Industrial Internet of Things. Connected machines and computer networks automate many regular processes. Computers can generate analytics in minutes that would take human workers days or weeks to compile, and they swiftly change the way we look at industry and automation. 5G internet could potentially provide a network faster than anything available. If that’s the case, it will increase IIoT efficiency and make it easier for businesses to adopt this new technology.

This move toward 5G will require a new layer of security. Faster mobile internet is an enticing target for hackers who can use the increased speed to steal more user data or create more effective and devastating botnets to take down the internet.

Despite the threat of hackers, industry experts predict an IoT explosion by 2020, with more than 30 billion devices connected to various mobile and home networks. 5G mobile internet is poised to change nearly every industry, from medicine and industry to transportation and retail.

Once 5G networks become mainstream, it may lead to a mass exodus as consumers purchase new compatible cell phones. Current 4G LTE compatible phones are backwards compatible, all the way back to 1G if that’s what is available. However, they won’t take advantage of the increase in speed, so you’ll need to buy a new phone. They won’t lock out older phones, at least not at the beginning. Nonetheless, to get the most out of this new network you’ll want to upgrade.

Looking Toward the Future

Complaining about a video not streaming on your 4G LTE signal could become a thing of the past. You might not have to wait much longer to stream at 100Gbps to all of your compatible mobile devices. 5G networks are on the way. While the technology isn’t quite there yet, this new technology will take the way we think of mobile internet and turn it on its ear within the next decade.

What Is 5G and How Will We Use It?
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Category: Tech

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Article by: Megan Ray Nichols

Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance science writer and science enthusiast. Her favorite subjects include astronomy and the environment. Megan is also a regular contributor to The Naked Scientists, Thomas Insights, and Real Clear Science. When she isn't writing, Megan loves watching movies, hiking, and stargazing.