Much like how movie and video technology has evolved from laserdisc to VHS to DVD to Blu-Ray to 4K HD, cellular communication has gone from 3G to 4G to the latest cellular technology generation, 5G. Like any other new technology, 5G has received tremendous hype over what it can do. It’s even been the subject of ridiculous conspiracy theories regarding COVID-19.
But how will 5G networks change life in the 21st century? Is it really a game-changer, or just another roll-out that the phone carriers are making much ado about nothing?
Let’s look at how 5G networks can change the world we live in. First, let’s introduce ourselves to 5G technology.
What Exactly is 5G Technology?
5G technology is the latest advance in mobile technology, the fifth generation of cellular network standards. It’s the latest operating standard for mobile hardware, characterized by faster data speeds, low-latency communication, and higher mobile device data caps.
5G networks can handle a significantly greater bandwidth because it adds lower and higher frequencies to the mobile spectrum.
How Do 5G Networks Differ from Predecessors?
The 5G network has significant latency reductions. Latency is defined as the total elapsed time starting when a device sends out the information and ending when the receiver gets it. Also, 5G’s peak capacity is measured in gigabits, not megabits.
Finally, 5G technology supports many more devices, the increased demands of high-density usage areas such as urban centers and airports, and IoT devices. We’re talking about an exponential improvement over 5G’s predecessors.
What Changes Will 5G Technology Bring?
The new 5G technology brings more incredible speeds and data density to mobile users. As a result, networks connect more people, and the greater data intensity means more versatility. 5G promises to be a game-changer, a quantum leap forward in mobile tech.
But let’s look at some specific changes promised by the advent of 5G.
The COVID crisis, with its associated lockdowns and distancing, has driven home how vital remote health care is. Home-based and wearable devices can monitor and manage people with chronic health conditions like diabetes and notify the proper providers if anomalies show up. 5G’s increased bandwidth and data density will be an asset.
5G can also make 3D x-rays and remote robotic surgery more manageable, while 5G-connected ambulances can interact with local traffic controls to ensure a rapid trip to the emergency room.
Finally, people in isolated, rural areas that can’t easily reach a health center will have the means to get prescriptions filled, consultations and appointments scheduled, and receive remote diagnoses.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) consists of billions of everyday devices, vehicles, and appliances that feature sensors and Internet connectivity. These devices collect and transmit data independent of any human contact. As you can imagine, the IoT is a bandwidth hog. According to DBS Group Research, there will be 125 billion devices connected by 2030!
Luckily, 5G’s bandwidth power is exponentially greater than its 4G predecessor. The 5G revolution will help fuel the IoT to greater performance levels, driving concepts like smart cities and driverless cars.
And speaking of driverless cars…
We already see some progress in driverless trucks and cars, but there is still a way to go before gaining widespread trust and acceptance. If driverless vehicles demonstrate the rapid response times needed to drive in crowded, challenging conditions, they can achieve that acceptance. That’s where 5G comes in. Low latency means fast communications with the cloud and GPS resources, allowing driverless cars to make those snap decisions every driver needs to make.
Resolution is increasing, 4K is commonplace, and 8K is becoming a thing. Don’t worry, 5G is perfectly suited to handle these heightened bandwidth demands. The 5G boost will significantly benefit mobile devices. Currently, 4K smart televisions can take high-resolution streaming demands, but tablets and smartphones struggle with the newer, faster technology. That’s why 5G will help mobile devices reach their true glorious 4K (and maybe 8K?) potential!
5G will also help the worlds of sports and entertainment shift from a 2D to a 3D format while simultaneously increasing the interactive aspect. Look for more virtual sets, smart stages, and real-time, 360-degree panoramic viewing.
The World of Retail
Most shoppers want a more personalized experience, and 5G makes that a reality. For instance, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) systems, powered by 5G’s increased capabilities, can help customers see how a piece of clothing would look on them or whether a new couch’s color would clash with their living room’s décor.
Suppose you're careful about what kind of ingredients a food item has or are watching your weight and want the nutritional information. In that case, 5G technology will make it possible for you to point your mobile device at a grocery item and get the desired information.
Advances in retail go together with the IoT, so a trip to the mall could eventually become a customized shopping experience. You could step into the mall and receive alerts about deals on your favorite goods, price comparisons, virtual coupons for the stores you often frequent, and other desired product information and promotions.
There are just some of the changes we can expect courtesy of 5G networks. Other aspects of our lives will also benefit, such as workplaces, factories, gaming, and learning.
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