The fifth-generation cellular network, or 5G infrastructure, will disrupt everything – when it is fully functional in our daily lives. That's not just techno-dreaming, 5G will be 100 times faster than our current 4G networks.
For example, 5G is already enabling sports broadcasters to transmit HD streams from their cameras to go live wirelessly, all without those bulky wires tying them down.
5G is one of the hottest industry technologies right now because it is poised to take over and transform how we interact with technology. It's no question then that it has been a hot topic at the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, happening right now in Las Vegas.
So, what even is 5G, and how are the companies gathered at CES 2020 preparing to handle it? That was the focus of a discussion held at CES, which I had the pleasure of attending. This article is based on the ideas presented there.
What even is 5G?
5G is essentially just the fifth generation of our mobile network. Though, you can think of it more like a new standard for wireless networks rather than say the latest generation of a toaster with a built-in thermometer that hooks up to your phone.
Appropriately implemented, 5G will lower data latency, offer more stability, and connect more devices at the same time. 2020 is the year for 5G, too, as most companies are planning on having 5G infrastructure in place to get ready for the coming rapid change.
The network technically works by utilizing higher-frequency bands in the radio spectrum. This allows for more data to be communicated much faster – in highly oversimplified terms, of course.
5G, when appropriately implemented, would make wireless networks theoretically faster than wired networks, if you can believe it. This has already been demonstrated too, so this isn't just technobabble.
How are companies poised to benefit?
Companies will primarily benefit from the increased speed and bandwidth that 5G provides. That said, that also poses data security concerns. Melissa Tye, Associate General Counsel, Emerging Technologies, Verizon, made it very clear that the company very much wants 5G privacy legislation to be passed in the US to protect consumers and give companies like themselves a set standard, so they know where the line is.
That may just sound like corporate talk, but at the end of the day, companies have incentives to establish better user trust. As noted in the discussion about 5G, user trust is the biggest hurdle to 5G adoption.
Back to how companies will specifically benefit from this technology, it's useful to ad perspective.
4G has data speeds of about 20 Mbps. 5G speeds will be 500 to 1500 Mbps. If my math skills serve me well, that's like a lot faster.
Ultimately, that means enterprise companies have a new tool on their hands. They have a data stream that will let them do everything, and I mean everything, wirelessly. That's huge for say, engineering companies who need to work in the field. With an upgraded 5G connection, cloud-computing CAD work could be done on the job site.
5G will bring efficiency and opportunity.
In a world where big data is the driving trend towards innovation, 5G will be the passageway that that data takes to help innovate. As companies expand their AI ability to process big data in meaningful ways, 5G will make that possible, all in real-time and all wirelessly.
5G Implementation is different
Another massive change about 5G is how the network is broadcast. 5G towers are tiny. Not just a little bit smaller, but a lot. No longer are the days of massive 4G telephone towers, 5G towers are the size of minifridges. Short-range 5G towers can even be made to be the size of cell phones. That means that it becomes far easier to connect urban areas to high-speed internet.
5G will take some time, though. While most major carriers have rolled out 5G, the networks aren't dense, and everyone will need new hardware. There's already 5G hardware being made, but it will likely be a slow transition over the next several years to bring all modern technology up to speed, either through replacement or retrofitting.
5G, according to industry experts and technologists, is set to improve how we can manage the world drastically.