If you know anything about technology, you’ll know that higher numbers generally mean better. For example, if you have a device and there is another device with a numerically higher model number, chances are you want that higher-numbered newer model! In that regard, aren’t we all frothing at the mouth in anticipation for 5G mobile networks? It will allow faster access to an online casino than ever before, and deliver videos to your device in the mere twinkle of an eye. Right?
All of the above is indeed true, but the question is; were you not getting fast enough access on a 4G network? You probably were. So what exactly are the real differences between 4G and 5G, and more to the point, do you really need 5G?
Is 5G Better?
Well, of course 5G is better. It is, in fact, almost 100 times faster than 4G. Yes, that means if you wanted to download a high-quality two-hour film it could be done in roughly 10 seconds. That same film would download in around 10 minutes on 4G. Additionally, 5G will also drastically reduce latency, otherwise known as the communication time between a server and any given device.
So, if you’re keen on getting almost instant access to entertainment, 5G is certainly the way to go. If you were happy streaming that same film in real time as opposed to instantly downloading the whole thing, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. Especially given the billions of dollars annually that are required to make 5G a possibility.
Making 5G Possible
As it stands, very few places around the world offer 5G. It is slowly but steadily being rolled out, with major metropolitan areas being targeted first. But, yes, the process of making 5G networks possible is outrageously expensive. So much so that many argue that the benefits hardly outweigh the costs.
5G requires high frequency airwaves in order to operate, and this is a major problem. Although high frequency can transmit vast amounts of data very quickly, the signal also doesn’t go far, and even struggles to penetrate something as simple as a pane of glass. This means, you’ve probably already guessed, that vastly more infrastructure is required to make a 5G network operate. A veritable ton of small, pizza box sized cell receptors are needed, scattered across cities. The cell receptors are expensive, and the immense labour needed to install a network of them is difficult to comprehend.
Engineers tackle the challenge a city block at a time, and it is a slow, tedious process.
So Why Bother?
So, why are so many companies even bothering with 5G? Is it even necessary? The short answer is no, it isn’t technically necessary. For the most part. At least, it isn’t necessary right now.
The truth is that 5G is a future proofing investment. The potential applications of the technology, years or even decades from now, are incredible. One application already being discussed is fully automated cars. A major hurdle of an automated car currently is the already-mentioned latency. A self-driving car works best when it has a fast, uninterrupted connection to a network. The key word here is uninterrupted. 4G cannot call itself uninterruptable by any means, and those delays between the car and the server may well be long enough to result in disaster. Imagine if a car had a lapse in communication right at the moment you needed it to hit the brakes.
On a 5G network those delays would be all but entirely solved in one fell swoop. Though, naturally, the 5G network would have to be available in every area you wanted to take your automated car.
Enjoy The Wait
So yes, 5G is great in all the ways you probably already guessed. Wow! A whole season of a series, right on my device, in under a minute! But the real benefits of 5G cannot really be appreciated right now, given that we can hardly imagine what future technology will be built on the backs of lightning fast mobile communication.
In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for streaming our HD videos, instantly, over the airwaves. How last century, right?