Talking 5G

Unless you have been off the grid or living under a rock, it’s a safe bet that you’ve heard something about 5G.  For this month’s blog post we are going to talk about 5G and find out what it really is and how it can help us.

What is 5G?

The simple answer is that 5G is the 5th generation of mobile networks. It is a new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. 5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything—including machines, objects, and devices.

5G wireless technology is meant to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience to more users. Higher performance and improved efficiency empowers new user experiences and connects new industries.

So, what does that all mean? It means more gigabits per second without much delay in streaming videos and a faster internet connection on your mobile device.

What are the differences between the previous generations of mobile networks and 5G?

Let’s take a look at the previous generations of mobile networks 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G, to better understand what 5G is.

  • First generation – 1G 1980s: 1G delivered analog voice. We are talking the first cellphones in cars with the curly fry antenna on the window.
  • Second generation – 2G Early 1990s: 2G introduced digital voice. This was the start of the portable handheld phones along with digitally encrypted phone conversations, at least between the mobile phone and the cellular base station, but not necessarily in the rest of the network. Significantly more efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum enabled more users per frequency band. Data services for mobile, and the start of SMS or Text messages.
  • Third generation – 3G Early 2000s: 3G brought mobile data. This is the beginning of mobile internet service and data streaming.
  • Fourth generation – 4G LTE 2010s: 4G LTE ushered in the era of mobile broadband. This came about after the invention of the smart phone and hand-held computing.

1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G all led to 5G, which is designed to provide more connectivity than was ever available before.

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How is 5G better than 4G?

There are several reasons that 5G will be better than 4G:

  • 5G is significantly faster than 4G: 5G can be significantly faster than 4G, delivering up to 20 Gigabits-per-second (Gbps) peak data rates and 100+ Megabits-per-second (Mbps) average data rates.
  • 5G has more capacity than 4G: 5G is designed to support a 100x increase in traffic capacity and network efficiency.
  • 5G has significantly lower latency than 4G: Latency or delay is the gap between when the data was sent and when you see it. This is most evident when you are streaming and live streaming video. 5G has significantly lower latency to deliver more instantaneous, real-time access. Under 4G it was possible to hear the homerun call on the radio before you saw the actual hit on your mobile device as you were live streaming. 5G will have less of this type of thing.
  • 5G is a unified platform that is more capable than 4G: 5G is designed to be a unified, more capable platform. That means the same platform across all the major carriers.
  • 5G uses spectrum better than 4G: 5G is also designed to get the most out of every bit of spectrum across a wide array of available spectrum. Spectrum means the radio frequencies assigned to the mobile cell provider. In other words, the frequency bands used by AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon etc.

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Is 5G available now?

Yes, 5G is already here today, and global operators started launching new 5G networks in early 2019. Also, all major phone manufacturers are commercializing 5G phones. And soon, even more people may be able to access 5G. Also, 5G has been deployed in 60+ countries and counting. And the change-over to 5G has been a much faster rollout and adoption than compared with 4G previously.

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Do I need a new phone if I want 5G?

Yes, you will need to get a new smartphone that supports 5G if you want to be able to use the 5G network.  There are several new mobile phones available that are designed to support 5G, and multiple carriers that support the 5G wireless network. More smartphones and carrier subscriptions will become available as 5G technology and 5G compatible devices become more mainstream. However, that doesn’t mean the devices will become less expensive.

Will my 4G phone stop working?

No, the 4G LTE shutdown will not be happening for at least a decade. Therefore, the thing to remember is that 4G will not be going away anytime soon, regardless of how fast the 5G network grows. The plan is for existing 4G LTE networks to be used by carriers well into 2030. Believe it or not, 3G is still in use and will only be going away next year in 2022.  If you have an old 3G phone, now may be the time to upgrade and skip 4G and go right to 5G.

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There you have all the info about what 5G is and how it will impact your mobile life.  The bottom line is if you have a 4G LTE phone, you are in no rush to replace it unless you want the features that come with a 5G phone.  If you’re like me and only use wi-fi for data and not your cell provider, then it doesn’t matter if you have 4G or 5G.

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