5G Technology…Who, What, When, Where & Why?

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    Bill Howard
    Manager of IT Services

    What is this very powerful 5G technology we have been hearing about? Simply stated, 5G is the 5th generation of mobile wireless technology. It is capable of transferring data at rates 10 to 100 times faster than current 4G technology. The reference to 5G should not be confused with Wi-Fi hot spots that transmit on the 5Ghz radio frequency. Though commonly labeled “5G” at times, these are not similar technologies.

    When is it available? Currently, 5G technology is available only in a few major metropolitan areas, and only select model smartphones have the built-in technology to take advantage of 5G. To use 5G today, you will need one of the few available devices that are 5G capable. Samsung and LG have models available today, but Apple has yet to announce when their 5G models will be coming. Both Samsung and LG 5G models cost a few hundred dollars more than their equivalent 4G model, with Samsung’s S10+ 5G priced at $1300 and LG’s V50 ThinQ 5G priced at $1000.

    Why should we move to 5G technology? Carriers like Sprint and Verizon have been working to roll out solid performing networks to provide faster, less congested and better coverage than current 4G networks. Due to the reduced lag times from 5G, recent tests have resulted in 2-hour movies being downloaded in mere seconds. In addition to faster browsing and reduced latency, you receive better video call quality, UHD and 360-degree video streaming, as well as instant connectivity to the cloud. 5G has been referred to as foundational technology that will supercharge areas such as self-driving cars, virtual and augmented reality, and telemedicine services such as remote surgery. 5G is capable of speeds faster than Google Fiber.

    Where can you get 5G technology? Since 5G is still in the early stages of testing and development, it can be found only in a few select areas. Verizon has turned on its 5G network in Chicago and Minneapolis, and AT&T is turned on in 19 cities including Atlanta, Dallas, and New Orleans. Be aware that AT&T has another product that is called 5GE which is basically an enhanced 4G and should not be confused with the 5G. Sprint has 5G availability in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City. Even if you are in a city where 5G is available, it will likely be spotty and found outdoors only, due to transmission challenges at high frequency bandwidth that 5G networks use.

    Who needs 5G technology? 5G being referred to as a foundational technology means that we will all be contributors and users of 5G networks in one manner or another. We may use it in more traditional manners such as a simple voice call to one another or to check email and browse the internet. There are ways that you may not even realize you are using it, such as when your new vehicle communicates with the highway or when you receive a surgery from a doctor that is not even in the country at the time of your operation. The space around us is becoming a large data capture device. There are any number of IOT devices (i.e. smart tv/speaker/wearable devices) that will collect and submit data via 5G networks as they expand.

    At the end of the day, 5G technology is the next step in the evolution of data sharing and transmission. Its mission is to continue to enhance quality and speed of data transfer. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.