With all the buzz surrounding 5G, you might be wondering how to prepare for the coming “4th
industrial revolution.” After all, economists claim 5G will add $12 trillion in new goods and services and 220 million jobs by 2035. And networking giants like Cisco Systems predict 12 percent of the world’s mobile data will run on 5G in the next 24 months.
If these forecasts sound impressive, they have cause to be. 5G is the next logical evolution in cellular networking technology. Without it, the true promise of machine-to-machine communications and the Internet of Things (IoT) cannot be realized.
To appreciate how necessary 5G is, it’s helpful to step back and look at how we arrived at this important juncture.
First came 1G, which brought about an overnight explosion of cellular phones. Then, 2G which made texting fast and abundant. 3G gave a plethora of new digital devices access to the internet anytime, anywhere. And 4G paved the way for faster, better quality video. Today, 4G networks, which were designed to solve video buffering and resolution issues, are trying do things they were never created for. As a result, we are quickly surpassing their limits.
The advantages of 5G are too numerous to describe in a single article, but the benefits most often talked about can be summarized in four words: Speed, Latency, Connectivity, and Power.
For starters, 5G is more than 100 times faster than 4G.
Whereas 3G would have required 26 hours to download a Netflix 2-hour movie, the advent of 4G cut that time to 4-6 minutes. Using 5G, that same movie now requires 3-4 seconds to download. Today’s 4G networks operate at an average speed of 45 Megabytes per second. 5G averages 10 Gigabytes per second.
Next up, 5G provides near-zero latency — a feature that’s essential for applications where any delay between an instruction and implementation spells disaster. Think of thousands of autonomous cars traveling at 65 miles per hour. Or robotic surgery, defense guidance systems, precision manufacturing, and other uses where instantaneous, continuous data is needed.
As if an unprecedented leap in speed and latency weren’t enough, 5G enables more digital devices to be connected to the network than ever before.
Today’s 4G networks accommodate roughly 100,000 devices per square kilometer. 5G has the ability to connect more than a million within that same area. With analysts anticipating over 80 billion connected devices by 2025, users will soon begin experiencing drop-outs without 5G technology. Similar to freeway commuter traffic, 5G eliminates congestion by 1) raising the speed limit so cars get off the road faster, 2) adding more lanes to existing roads, and 3) building new roads. 5G is a multi-layered data highway offering multi-faceted benefits.
Lastly, while other 5G features often steal the spotlight, the substantial power savings 5G offers cannot be overlooked.
Faster speed and near-zero latency allows apps to be continuously streamed from the cloud, so expensive, power-greedy chips are no longer needed to store or run apps on the devices themselves. What’s more, users will never have to update software or upgrade their phones once they have a 5G compatible device. According to President of Qualcomm, smart phones will soon be reduced to glass screens with batteries — opening the door to an entirely new generation of inexpensive telecom products.
Whether we’re talking speed, latency, connectivity, or power, it turns out there are well-founded reasons 5G is generating so much excitement.
5G networks are destined to change the way we work and live.
This article is Part 1 of a series, "Everything You Need to Know About 5G." To read Part 2 — Click Here Now.
Rebecca D. Costa is an American sociobiologist and futurist. She is a world-renowned expert in the field of “fast adaptation” in complex environments. Costa’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, SF Chronicle, The Guardian, etc. Her first book, "The Watchman’s Rattle A Radical New Theory of Collapse," was an international bestseller. Her follow-on book, titled "On the Verge," was released in 2017. For more information visit www.rebeccacosta.com. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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