What can we expect from the 5G network?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless communication standards and is not to be confused with "5G WiFi."

First, there was 2G, a set of standards for wireless telephone calls. 3G arrived, make it possible to surf the internet on a smartphone. 4G delivered speeds that enabled video streaming and an entire economy of apps that need sustaining, reliable connectivity. The new 5G standard requires new hardware. That new device may hit download speeds of 1 Gbps and theoretically hit a peak of 10 Gbps. That means you’ll be able to download full-length movies in seconds, but it will also open up a world of possibilities we can’t even imagine yet.

How does 5G work?

5G networks operate on different frequencies with sub-6 GHz and millimeter-wave (20-60 GHz) at the low and high ends of the spectrum. These Millimeter-wave frequencies were previously unused, which have space for the faster speeds we expect with the new standard.

mmWave drawbacks

Super high frequencies cant travel far distances and can’t travel through windows or buildings; basically, it only works within a line of sight. You will need to be extremely close to a 5G node to catch a signal. In a Metropolitan area, the carriers have to install a 5G node every few hundred feet. But in rural areas where there are few buildings or cell towers for 5G transmitters to provide mmWave network. Some carriers also utilize the existing mid-band (2.5 GHz) spectrum to build out the 5G network. At 2.5 GHz, a signal can travel farther but not as fast as with mmWave. Which doesn’t deliver the 1 Gbps speeds that mmWave-based systems from its rivals do, but will allow you to catch a signal more reliable. 4G and 5G will coexist. When your device drops a 5G signal, it will fall back on LTE. The hand-off between the different bands should be imperceptible besides the fact that the connection will be slower when it switched you back to the 4G network.

5G iPhones

Apple decided to sit 2019 out there’s no 5G iPhone 11 and is reportedly waiting until 2020 to go all-in with 5G with the iPhone 12.

5G beyond smartphones

The faster speeds will mean so much more than just higher-quality streaming and lightning-quick downloads. Smartphones and Tablets will be the first devices to join the new wave of connectivity. The industry foresees connected PCs, connected IoT products, connected AR/VR, connected gaming consoles, smart tv’s, etc. On the roads, 5G could make self-driving cars safer, because communication between vehicles and infrastructure will become instantaneous.

My hope and fears about the 5G future

First of all, there are the physical limitations of the millimeter-wavelength signals. They cant penetrate your house and interior walls so our devices will not be able to establish these super-fast connections. Then there is the business model, are we going to have to pay for each connected device? Last but not least, there is a legit concern about foreign-made 5G network equipment that could manipulate our data.

I don’t care that much about faster speeds to my iPhone or iPad. Some improvement is welcome but a revolution? I hope that we can finally see some competition to the monopoly of cable internet providers. By replacing the cable modem with a cellular modem with an external antenna at our home or business and connect that to our current network.

Now that would be a game-changer!