Article by T. Kermani
Published on May 15, 2019.
Technology is always making progress. We hear about these progresses all the time, on the news, in books, and on television and movies. We hear about better cameras. Animojis. Face ID. Many people care about the hardware in their phones but do not think about the cellular network that they are using. A large advancement is about to be made in our networks and will change the way we use it.
5G UWB (5G) is the fifth generation of cellular networks, and it brings a large improvement in speed. The faster the network, the faster you can download files and share videos. You can also play online multiplayer games better with a faster network. The current cellular network, 4G (LTE), offers speeds up to 1 Gbps, or 1000 Mbps (download), and 5G will offer a speed improvement of up to 20 Gbps, making it 20 times faster than 4G. Average speeds of Verizon’s 4G LTE network show speeds of around 35 Mbps. Early testing of Verizon’s 5G network show speeds that are 350 Mbps at a minimum, and can even get up to speeds over 600 Mbps. The other major development of 5G is latency reduction. Latency is the amount of time that it takes before data starts to get transferred. It’s measured in “ms” (milliseconds), and 5G can reduce the time from hundreds of milliseconds (on 4G LTE) to 1 ms. The latency is low enough that surgeons would be able to perform surgery on patients that are a thousand miles away and have a successful operation.
New technology has drawbacks, and 5G definitely has some. One of the major drawbacks of 5G is that it has a shorter range than 4G. 5G uses different wavelengths than 4G does (which is how we get service, through waves sent to our devices), which have shorter ranges. This means that we will need more modems (a device that converts signals) to make sure that we can get reception. Installing these modems will also be costly. 5G smartphones are also more expensive than the phones we have now, going above $1000.
Having a full rollout of 5G across the world will take a long time, probably more than ten years. 5G in the U.S has already started rolling out but may take until 2021 to be available throughout the entire country. This could result in more developments being made, improving range and reducing costs.
While 5G will offer many benefits, such as fast speed and low latency, it is expensive and has a shorter range than 4G. However, in time, improvements may be made to give it farther range and lower costs.