Communication is key
Effective and efficient communication has always been a key in business, and soon communications capabilities will exceed what most never thought was possible.
Nobody knows exactly when it will happen, or what it will look like, but we do know this — 5G technology is coming. At this point, it appears private companies will play an instrumental role in defining 5G standards. Some are already working on the technology.
Here is a look at what 5G technology is, the challenges involved in rolling it out, and what it will mean for businesses going forward.
What exactly is 5G?
Put simply, 5G technology is the fifth generation of wireless communication. The major wireless carriers currently work on a 4G standard called LTE Advanced, and 5G will be the next natural progression. It will use coding that’s not all that different from 4G, but its latency will be much lower.
Generally speaking, 5G will mean faster wireless internet speeds, and that is the main difference between 5G and 4G. It’s a bit difficult to explain what 5G is beyond that, because the truth is nobody exactly knows the technology that will be implemented and define 5G.
That said, the Federal Communications Commission got the 5G ball rolling with a proposal from chairman Tom Wheeler, under which portions of high-band spectrum would be made available for 5G communications.
The FCC won’t be the one that decides what the 5G standard is, however. If the proposal is passed, the agency will leave it up to wireless carriers such as Verizon or AT&T to design and develop 5G, a similar process to how the rollout of 4G played out. Wheeler has said the FCC will make available parts of the spectrum and then rely on telecoms to figure out which frequencies should be used.
5G technology: Still developmental
The most immediate and obvious challenge of 5G is defining what it is in the first place. The goal is to create wireless networks that are up to 50 times faster than what we currently know, but how we get there will be left up to the private sector.
Once the wireless companies come up with a standard for 5G, their next challenge will be rolling it out on a national scale. That will include building cell towers capable of harnessing 5G signals, a costly and time-consuming process.
Another challenge is developing new devices such as smartphones or tablets that are compatible with 5G. As technology gets faster, components such as semiconductors get smaller, which is another challenge. This technology continues to miniaturize with a focus on increased pixel density on smaller screen real estate, meaning lasers and sensor dimensions must also decrease.
What will be the benefits of 5G?
The most obvious advantage of 5G will be faster wireless internet, and it goes well beyond being able to download a movie or app in a shorter amount of time.
The implications of 5G are numerous. For businesses, it could mean the ability to host employee video conferences from any location with minimal latency. For doctors, it might mean the ability to perform complex procedures remotely in real time.
Faster internet and reduced latency will also be a cornerstone to the so-called “internet of things,” in which all manner of cars, home appliances and other devices are connected to the internet and have the ability to communicate with each other. The rise of 5G will also be a key to the burgeoning virtual reality market, where top-level internet speeds are vital for a superior experience.”
All of those benefits are great, but for now it’s a waiting game. Even the most optimistic of forecasts say true 5G networks won’t roll out until 2018, while more reserved predictions say the technology won’t be here until at least 2020.
Still, for anyone who has ever experienced lengthy download times and spotty service with 4G, the wait will be well worth it.