5G is coming – here’s what it means for you

You’re probably aware of 3G, 4G/LTE: well as of December 2017 we also have 5G, the next generation of high-speed mobile internet access.

There’s a good chance it won’t affect you, and you won’t even have to think about it. You’ll renew your cell phone plan, in 2020, you’ll get the newest shiny smartphone, and you’ll be on a 5G network.

Service carriers around the globe are rushing to deploy the first 5G service, maybe predicting to be up and running by the end of 2018, early 2019. It is anticipated that by 2020, sufficient infrastructure will be in place which will make 5G more viable than previous generations. A lot of the 5G news we get here in the Great White North comes from our American cousins – a lot of the tech startup is tested in the USA. But it seems Canada isn’t that far behind (this time) as it has been revealed that Telus with Huawei has been putting on trials of 5G wireless hubs in cities like Vancouver.

What’s the difference?

Simply put, it’s the next generation of mobile phone. 1G is the wireless network introduced in 1979 and used analogue radio signal, 2G was digital telecommunication with the addition of “texting” (SMS) and picture messaging (MMS), 3G introduced mobile broadband and internet access to smartphones and cellular modems, 4G brought on faster internet access, VoIP, mobile television, video conferencing and cloud computing. 5G, the fifth-generation, is promising much quicker internet upload and download speeds, better coverage and a more stable connection, as the technology makes better use of the spectrum and allows more connected devices to access services at the same time. A mobile phone network generation is roughly ten years.


Every day, more devices get connected to the internet. IoT devices, cars, phones, streaming services, cloud services are all consuming data, and every year the mobile data we consume grows. 4G networks did a great job at handling data service, but they could not have prepared it for the explosion in demand.

5G will be able to achieve very high speeds. Qualcomm, a chipmaker, in a real-world conditions test was able to get download speeds that are 10 to 20 times faster. These speeds are due to the radio spectrum used by 5G is at a much higher frequency; 3.5GHz to 26GHz (4G uses 0.7 GHz to 2.6 GHz). The biggest hurdle with higher-frequency band radio waves is they have a lower range and are more easily blocked by objects.

It is unlikely that 5G will find a place in rural areas since the lower-frequency mobile service spectrums handle long distances better.

The Future

As the technology improves, devices that can use the 5G network will become more common. Scientists will start working on the stepping stones for 6G to be ready by 2030 (if the trend continues). It is speculative what 5G might be able to give up during its lifetime, but it is expected it will contribute to the practical applications of automation, AI, and IoT.

If “smart” vehicles were able to speak to each other more quickly, with less latency and more clarity – it could make all the difference for practical and commercial driverless car operations, or drone delivery services or any other device that needs to speak to a computer via a mobile network.

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