It’s called 5th generation and it’s the latest offering network speed that has been only a dream that could open the door to infinite possibilities for streaming, video, and high bandwidth transitions. While 4G speeds of about 16.9 megabits per second (Mbps) have been the best you can get, according to Open Signal. 5G promises to deliver Gigabit speeds (>1Gbps). Did you hear that – 1 Gigabyte Per Second! Let’s see what that means to consumers and what mobile companies are offering.
At first look you’d say this is unbelievable. Think for a minute, if a typical movie is 10 gigabytes it will only take 10 seconds to download. People who have been experimenting with NetFlix downloads know that this is a truly amazing capability. Cell phone carriers are starting to roll out the capability across America and have stated that this is the second coming of the industrial revolution. Verizon Wireless. Where 4G allows you to stream your favorite YouTube videos in full HD, 5G will make it possible to stream 4K HDR content—and more.
5G technologies are expected to put mobile broadband on par with fiber networks — and they’re rolling out on a city-by-city basis similar to how Google Fiber deployed networks between 2010 and 2016. So for Google, putting fiber-optic cable underground is an expensive undertaking — even for a highly profitable company like Google — and it didn’t get enough of a return on the investment to keep expanding to new cities. So that’s why everyone is turning to 5G. In other words, 5G is a hundred times faster than 4G at theoretical maximum speeds. Even taking these numbers with a grain of salt, it’s a huge leap.
5G will also lower latency, or how long it takes the network to respond to a request. Today, latency is about 9 milliseconds (ms). With 5G, that will drop to 1ms. While that would seem like a long time for automobiles driving at 70 mph, it’s plenty for your home network. But 5G will still have a bottleneck and that’s the wifi router. And that’s going to have to change as well.
A bunch of telecommunications equipment providers are supporting the networks’ efforts. Qualcomm and Intel are leading the way with 5G modems, while Ericsson and Nokia are creating tower and backhaul gear that will be used in the U.S.
The same companies that power your phone today will eventually be the ones bringing you 5G. The major U.S.-based carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, are all hard at work on their 5G networks. Each has a different launch window, but those launches are nearly here.
AT&T has already reportedly rolled out “5G E” to some phones (including the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, LG V30 or LG V40). Select phones in specific regions will connect to this new network and show “5G E” in the top corner of the screen instead of the usual “LTE” indicator. Even more phones are expected to get 5G E later on.
Verizon’s 5G service is fixed and only available in small parts of four markets (Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.) Fixed 5G serves as a fiber or cable replacement. It is beamed from towers to your business or home, where special equipment receives the signal and provides internet inside. This is not for mobile devices, such as phones, laptops, or cars. Verizon’s mobile 5G service will get off the ground in early 2019.
T-Mobile says it will offer 5G mobile service to an unknown number of markets during the first half of the year and reach the entire country at some point in 2020.
Verizon is the first company to deliver home internet service via 5G, so we’re talking about Verizon a lot in this article. We know the details of their service and can compare it to cable internet. But this isn’t an advertisement for Verizon.
Like with standard cable internet service, you’ll have a 5G Home modem that connects to Verizon’s servers. You can then attach this modem to your router and other devices so they can access the internet. That 5G modem sits in a window and communicates with Verizon wirelessly. There’s also an external modem that you can mount outside if there’s no good reception from the windows.
AT&T also plans to launch home internet over 5G by the end of 2018. T-Mobile and Sprint are claiming they will launch a similar service if only the government lets them merge first. Sprint has also announced plans to launch its 5G network in a variety of cities and to bring the first 5G smartphone to the US in 2019.
This is all exciting. These are multiple companies that can compete with each other! It’s very unlike wired internet service in most places in the US, where there’s one big cable company.
We look forward to seeing what happens with 5G in the next few years. We hope it will transform the way we access the internet. The US badly needs more competition between internet service providers, and wireless service could be the solution.