February 24, 2017
Approximately every ten years, a new generation of wireless networks is developed and expands the speed and capabilities of the mobile internet. The public has been connecting their smartphones to the fourth generation of wireless networks for about five years now, but technologists and telecom companies are already beginning to look ahead at the potential of 5G networks.
The Internet Family Tree
Starting in 1982 with 1G, wireless was comparatively slow and limited. It wasn’t until the second generation in 1992 when we even gained the ability to send text messages back and forth. When 3G came out in 2001, cellular devices could finally access the internet. This, of course, paved the way for the first smartphones in 2007. Five years later in 2012, the very familiar 4G hit the market, and this generation allowed for the modern conveniences we use every day. Cellular devices can send texts, access the internet, and even upload and download data at a speed of 1 GB per second. The concept of fast internet has been around since the beginning, but it wasn’t until 3G and 4G that internet speeds really came into their own.
Today, however, there is a whole new generation of smart products on the Internet of Things (IoT) that are quickly going to clog up the 4G wireless networks. We need to make room for these products, and we need a new generation of internet to do it.
5G Internet: Faster than Hi-Speed
Can a new generation of internet really be that much faster? Yes. Yes it can, and it will be absolutely necessary to keep up with advances in other areas of technology. Currently, 4G LTE internet connections top out at about 1 GB per second. This is ample bandwidth to stream video, but it can still take a long time to download movies or other large files in ideal circumstances. Considering the rise of 3D and Ultra HD video, the demand for bandwidth is about to sharply rise.
Wireless networks need to lower their latency for another reason as well. The Internet of Things is quickly rising in prevalence. The internet of things is related to the concept of the “smart home” and refers to internet-connected devices outside the traditional laptops, smartphones, tablets, and computers. Toilets, litterboxes, showerheads, and more mundane items now have their internet-connected counterparts available in stores. As these devices become more popular, the overall quantity of devices accessing the same wireless networks is going to greatly increase.
To account for this influx of new devices and mediums of data, 5G internet is projected to have a bandwidth of 10GB per second. That’s a ten-fold increase over the previous generation.
Prepare for Launch
In some areas of the country, it already has in a limited capacity. Verizon announced that it has begun trials of 5G networks in Texas, Oregon, and New Jersey. Meanwhile AT&T has also announced that it will begin testing soon.
However, testing is not a wide release, and we shouldn’t expect 5G to be standard until somewhere around 2020. Until then, we can only stay tuned on the results of Verizon and AT&T’s tests.
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For Further Reading
The Internet of Things is gaining wide popularity as more and more products hit the market, but what are the security concerns? How can we protect our identities and data when every item in the home can be potentially hacked? Learn about this challenge in our blog post, “Security Threats in the Internet of Things.”