After years of anticipation, CES 2019 is showing us how 2019 will finally be the year when 5G connectivity comes to market in the form of mobile devices, infrastructure, and residential services—a development that is expected to completely alter the way we connect with the world.
What is 5G?
The term 5G means “fifth generation” cellular technology, and represents the set of standards adopted by the industry in 2017 as the next step up from 4G LTE connections.
The standards cover a lot of different techs, but the essential thing to know is that it is expected to provide considerably faster download and upload speeds over LTE technology, as much as 100 times as fast with much more reliability than we currently experience.
Breaking Out of the Low Range Spectrum Band
5G technology achieves this kind of speed in part by using all three spectrum ranges that can carry radio signals.
The low-range spectrum band is where nearly all mobile communications take place, and this is becoming a serious problem.
The low-range band is congested to the point of saturation, to the point where mobile users in major metro areas experience network slowdowns during peak times of the day and download speeds cannot exceed about 100 Mbps.
Meanwhile, the mid-range and high-range bands have much more free space than the low-range band and are almost entirely free of congestion.
This means that 5G connections will be able to consistently achieve optimal download and upload speeds, which, in the case of the high-range band, max out at about 10 Gbps. So not only is it faster, it will be faster much more often than the current LTE network.
How Will 5G Change Everything?
At a recent panel at the CES Research Summit, Joe Mosele, AT&T Mobility's Vice President for IoT Solutions Business Development, said that “what 5G is going to be-- it's going to be defined by the user. I think there's so much more you're going to be doing with 5G, it's going to impact all aspects of your life.”
From smart cities and IoT to true telemedicine, 5G has the technological capacity to spur innovation in all of these areas of our lives in a connected synergy, something we haven't quite seen since the invention of the Internet itself, only on a much larger scale.
The Internet is largely confined to a box on your desk or the phone in your hand. 5G will connect every device that can receive a radio signal into a single network. The scope of what's possible means any prediction is probably understating what's coming, but everyone at CES 2019 agrees the kinds of innovation 5G makes possible will be completely revolutionary.