The 2018 Winter Olympics were arguably the most high tech games in history, from that swarm of lights that formed a snowboarder at the opening ceremonies to those virtual reality headsets that let spectators watch some of their favorite events like they were right there. South Korea also demonstrated the capability and speed of the next generation of wireless technology, 5G. It is faster, but how does that actually compare to every other generation? To understand, let's look back.
History of Networks
So, what is 5G technology? There was 1G, the network those early bulky cell phones worked on. The second generation added the ability to send text messages and pictures. But then enter 3G. It basically turned cell phones into mini Internet connected computers and 4G made them fast enough to stream all the cat videos you could ever want. 5G takes it even one step further and about 100 times faster.
Impact of 5G
So, how might that change your life? With a pair of high tech glasses, you can escape into a virtual world without leaving a soundstage. While the potential for this technology is endless, tech innovation is fast approaching a wall. The world has seen an enormous growth in the last few years, and it has gone from headsets to make people sick. Engineers have solved those problems by increasing the frame rates and increasing the resolution. But as you increase the resolution of these screens, of course, you have to push more data. And right now, the networks can't push all of that data. If glasses aren't wired, they could only handle small amounts of data and perform specific tasks.
5G is a network that is powerful enough to safely run a hyper connected world beyond your cellphone with millions of self driving cars, delivery drones, smart homes and even entire cities. But there's a catch. This fast internet travels on tiny wavelengths much shorter than the ones the current 4G networks work on. That means cell towers or receptors will need to be much closer. Right now, the 4G ranges about 70 kilometers. 5G can only travel a very short 300 meters, so future networks will need thousands of mini base stations everywhere all over a city to relate the signals. This is much more complex and much more expensive.
Benefits for Users
Companies around the world are already investing tens of billions of dollars fighting to be the leaders in 5G. Getting left behind isn't an option. For the average cell phone user, 5G will mean access to a lot more data and the ability to download things like a movie in the blink of an eye. So much bandwidth will be available, you won't have to worry about going over on your data plan. Today, it's a big deal when your company gives you 10 gigabits of data a month for 60 bucks or whatever it is. This will be much, much bigger buckets of data, almost that you don't really have to pay attention to it. There will be wireless sensors in the roads, cars and buses, feeding out all kinds of information. Going forward, those sensors will be nearly everywhere.
5G is a network that can be deployed densely enough to get enough of the right data to be able to make smart decisions. It's all that information from those sensors that will make a world of autonomous vehicles possible and safe, allowing cars, roads and street lights have the ability to communicate at lightning speeds. 5G also has the potential to fundamentally change the way cities work to reduce carbon footprint, make better use of energy, make transportation better, and the ability to deploy sensors and collect data. All of those are possible over the new future, and right now, small parts of those networks are already being built. It's what the future of wireless will look like with a fully functioning lightning speed network That will be a reality in some parts of the world in just a couple of years.