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5G - The Next Great Thing

Wireless technology has been evolving rapidly for the last ten years. No longer are we used to slow buffering speeds and long download times. We are living in a time where our access to streaming high-quality videos and movies is almost universal. We have moved from 3G technology, operating at speeds of 144Kb/s to 4G which is now reaching speeds of 25M/s. But recent advances in technology suggest that we could get even better and even faster than we already are. 5G technology is rapidly approaching and promising speeds of 300Mb/s!

This fifth-generation wireless technology is already popping up in urban areas around the world and it is estimated that by 2024, 40% of the global wireless coverage will be serviced by a 5G network. So is this new generation of wireless technology all it promises to be, or will we still be waiting for faster wireless technology.

5G technology has already begun to be implemented in countries such as the USA, UK, Switzerland, Kuwait, and South Korea. It is also expected to pop up in Canada, Brazil, and Kazakhstan.

Benefits of 5G:

  • High Speeds -The 5G network is promising much faster speeds due, being able to reach several gigabits per second. This is one of the most attractive features of the service as loading times will become a thing of the past and data will be downloaded in many cases almost instantaneously.
  • Extremely low latency – Once again, the user experience will be improved as there will be almost no latency, and computers will be able to communicate seamlessly with one another. This will be particularly attractive to gamers and people who want to have video conference calls.
  • High frequencies mean lots of data can be transferred – No longer will people be limited to only being able to transfer smaller amounts of data through their mobile wireless network, they will soon be able to transfer larger files.

Limitations of 5G:

  • Poor at penetrating things thicker than clothes – In its current state 5G is not always very effective at transferring signal as many operators are only using millimeter-wave signaling. Because of this, 5G in its infancy will not be able to penetrate walls of buildings or windows, for example. Currently, 5G is only useful for direct line of sight signaling
  • The reduced battery life of user devices– When it comes to user experience, there are also some important trade-offs to keep in mind. Due to the vast amounts of data being transferred by the device, it is likely going to take a toll on battery life. In order to roll out 5G effectively to improve the experience of users, they would likely have to upgrade their phone hardware to something that has a much more robust battery. For many users, upgrading their phones to the latest technology is not only prohibitively expensive but seemingly unnecessary given the general understanding of 5G networks. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that the top of the line smartphones that may be needed for 5G are reaching retail prices of over $1000.
  • It requires many 5G nodes– Although for many countries, upgrading their wireless technology is essential to stay connected in the modern world, the cost of implementing the technology should not be understated. Many 5G nodes would have to be installed to ensure full network coverage for its users.

Overall, 5G is a promising advancement in wireless technology and many users are advocating for its installation worldwide. It may more of a challenge because it is not fully compatible with current wireless networks and will require a large cost in hardware upgrades. Additionally, users may have to front up some of the costs themselves, including upgrading to smartphones with a large battery-life capacity.

It is likely that the upgrade to 5G will be very slow and gradual, as the upgrade requires massive costs and time in terms of infrastructure. For the time being it is likely that 4G will continue to dominate our mobile wireless network usage and will gradually be phased out in the next 5-10 years. Even more shockingly, companies like Huawei in China are already beginning to Research 6G technology before 5G has been fully rolled out!

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