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In the twenty-first century, our lives seem to be inextricably connected to the internet – everything from our phones, to printers, to cars, to even mundane, everyday objects, such as thermostats, smart toasters, and fitness collars for dogs, every facet of our lives are embedded in the internet ecosystem. Smartphones first gained massive popularity when the 3G network was released to the market, and ever since, networks have evolved to be faster and faster.

4G LTE was launched in 2010, and allowed us to stream videos and audio on the Internet. It also ushered in the explosion of a social media era with a network that was faster than ever before. Today, we stand at the dawn of a new era of interconnectedness with the rise of 5G.

At first glance, the 5G network seems to be just a faster Internet speed than our current experience, 4G LTE. However, this new inconceivably fast cellular network technology will bring us into a world where not only people, but all things will be connected like never before.

Augmented realities will transform how you shop for groceries, no matter where you are. Wireless car systems will revolutionize the way we drive, communicating with other cars on the road to regulate traffic and to monitor your brakes and speed. The opportunities with 5G are endless, and they will transform our world.

What is 5G?

5G refers to the fifth generation of wireless connectivity technology. Currently, we all enjoy 4G technology, which has trumped the networking scene for the last five to eight years. With 4G, you can stream and surf the Internet on your phone at a speed of about 16.9 megabits per second. 5G will deliver Gigabit speeds, which will be supremely faster. With 5G, accessing the cloud will be nearly instantaneous, and downloads will be much faster. On smartphones, tablets, and new PCs, users will be able to stream videos of 4K HDR content and more.

In addition to speed, 5G will connect much more devices to the Internet than today. As of today, networks rely on 200-foot towers to cover fairly large areas, with oftentimes, as a result, less strong signals. The new standard of 5G, called 5G New Radio will increase the number of cell sites required, covering much smaller areas and increasing connectivity. There will also be more devices connected to the 5G network at once – not only smartphones will be connected to the internet – cars, sensors, galore will also be on the wireless network.

Finally, 5G also aims to reduce the latency, or length of time it takes for the network to respond to a request. As of now, latency stands at 9 milliseconds. The new 5G network will drop that number to just 1 ms. This quicker latency may mean the time it takes for your smart car system to activate your brakes and save you from a crash, or provide much more responsive experiences exploring virtual reality worlds for video game players.

Where will 5G be available?

5G will be made available through the same US carriers that provide Internet for your phone today – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Smartphones will be made specifically to be 5G-enabled…in fact, LG will launch the first 5G phone early next year, and Motorola will develop a 5G modem attached to its Moto Z3 smartphone.

Overseas in China, ZTE and Huawei will take the helm in providing 5G networks for Asian and European consumers.

How is 5G a Gamechanger?

As of now, the Internet is mostly confined to a box in your computer, a speaker on your table, or a phone in your hands. The 5G network will expand the Internet, connecting every device that can connect to the web into one, single wireless network. According to Joe Mosele, AT&T Mobility’s Vice President for IoT Solutions Business Development, “it’s going to impact all aspects of your life.”

The rise of 5G will see an absolute transformation of human daily life. It will transcend mobile broadband, revolutionizing smart cities, robotics, self-driving cars, hospitals, and will usher in new inventions in various industry sectors.

The 5G network will lead to innovation in the health care sector – wearable devices will allow for patients to notify their doctors instantaneously and monitor their illnesses for diagnosis and screening. Indeed, one impressive innovation of 5G networks in the health sector is wireless robotic operation, where surgeons will be able to operate on patients miles away.

So, when is 5G coming?

The limits of innovation with 5G are endless. However, costs and regulatory oversight remain as barriers to 5G coming to fruition today. Service providers will need to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure to foster 5G, such as antennas, base stations, and fibre-optic cables. 2020 is the official year where 5G will be available on the commercial market.

Urban cities will be the first to receive 5G. Rural areas lack the necessary infrastructure to set up 5G, so it will likely be years before the world is thoroughly and completely connected. However, it is clear we are on the precipice of a new digital era. The results will no doubt be revolutionary.

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