It’s no surprise that we see the world of technology improving generation after generation, evolving to fit its users' growing needs. As more people obtain devices that demand internet access, many of them require more bandwidth than ever seen before, hence the fifth generation of wireless network, also known as 5G.
But what exactly is 5G? CNN describes it as “next generation wireless network technology that’s expected to change the way people live and work. It will be faster and able to handle more connected devices than the existing 4G LTE network, improvements that will enable a wave of new kinds of tech products.”
5G networks aren’t a new concept. In fact, companies have been rolling out 5G over the past few years, but they are still in their early days. Technology doesn’t improve overnight! As we dive deep into the metrics of 5G, we can see the potential is huge.
How does it work?
TechTarget explains, “wireless networks are composed of cell sites divided into sectors that send data through radio waves.” 5G wireless signals are transmitted through small cell sites, unlike 4G’s which are transmitted through large cell towers. 5G cell stations are located in places such as building roofs, walls, or light poles as 5G relies on the millimeter wave (MM wave) spectrum to generate the high speed it’s meant to. All cell sites must be in close proximity to one another to avoid disruptions, so these networks are being deployed city by city.
What are the benefits?
With any new generation wireless network, greater speed is a given. Not only is greater speed a benefit of 5G, greater bandwidth is as well. Just think, no more spotty service in a crowd full of people! Reduced latency is another plus of 5G. “The time it takes for a cell phone (or other connected device) to make a request from a server and get a response reduces virtually to zero. And it will make communications with cloud platforms (think Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure) easier and faster” (CNN). Stellar, right?
What’s the difference between 4G and 5G?
A new generation of wireless network wouldn’t be new if it wasn’t substantially different from the generations prior. There are three main differences between 4G and its successor. Lifewire lays them out in the graphic below:
Graphic by Lifewire
With this next-gen network, nothing changes regarding what we can already do on 4G networks (i.e. browse the internet, stream videos, make phone calls, send text messages, etc.), they’re just improved.
If we’re looking for an actual comparison of the differences, TechTarget states:
4G - Fourth-generation wireless is 5G’s predecessor and the fourth generation of mobile network technology. In the 2010s, 4G reigned as the latest, most innovative generation of cellular technology and reached ubiquity within the decade. Some of 4G’s promises included enhanced cell density, improved VoIP capabilities and greater bandwidth.
5G - Fifth-generation wireless is the latest generation of cellular network technology. Small, early deployments began in the late 2010s, but 5G will not reach ubiquity until the mid-2020s. Touted benefits of 5G include faster network speeds and real-time communication capabilities.
Companies all over the world are competing to have the largest and fastest 5G networks, while countries are competing to deploy 5G networks nationwide. The benefits of this new technology are expected to do wonders. 5G will fuel new innovative and transformative products and technologies, not only for consumers, but for all kinds of businesses.
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