With Verizon’s latest announcement of releasing their so called 5G in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, many people will be wondering what 5G even means. 5G is the term used for an array of technologies that would allow mobile internet speeds of at least 1 Gbps which would be more than ten times faster than the average 4G speeds.

However what Verizon has dubbed as their 5G is more of a stop gap measure since it isn’t using the same array of standard tech that the global telecom industry has deemed as 5G.

So what is 5G?

Millimeter Waves

5G is multiple technologies used simultaneously to achieve speeds greater than those on 4G. The first technology, and the only one Verizon is currently using, is millimeter waves which is any frequency greater than 6GHz.

Millimeter waves are high frequency waves that allow for faster data transmission however they do not travel through buildings and other objects as well as lower frequencies.

To get around this problem thousands of small cell sites would be deployed over populated areas serving much smaller areas than normal cell towers, allowing devices to stay connected without interference.

Massive MIMO

Another technology that will be utilized is called Massive MIMO which stands for multiple input multiple output; Massive MIMO will allow for more devices to simultaneously connect to the same cell site at once.

Current cell sites support about 1,000 devices per square kilometer, with Massive MIMO cell sites could support up to 1 million devices per square kilometer which would allow for devices to be usable in highly populated areas like concerts and sporting events.

Beam Forming

Currently, cell sites broadcast in all directions which can cause interference between cell sites, Beam Forming would have cell sites broadcast a signal in a specific direction at a device and could strategically bounce signals off of buildings and onto the devices these signals are destined for. 

This would allow less interference between cell sites, consistent data streams and stronger signal to devices.

Why 5G?

IOT

With 5G speeds of 1Gbps and latency 1ms or lower would allow for the advent of IOT which stands for internet of things. IOT is the connection of many devices to the internet like cars, appliances and even medical equipment.

5G and IOT will change life as we know it, for example a heating and cooling unit could constantly run diagnostics on itself and transmit that data to a company server, the company could then contact the owner if there was a problem with the heating and cooling unit, and schedule an appointment with maintenance personnel before the unit breaks.

With millions of devices needing to be constantly connected to the internet, 5G will be needed to make IOT a reality.

Secure Wireless Internet

With 5G we could see feasible wireless internet at home and anywhere else there is signal. No cables or WiFi passwords needed, simply login to whatever network you’re subscribing to. 5G would also be more secure than using public WiFi like at schools and coffee shops where personal information is often stolen due to the insecurity of public WiFi networks.

Costs

Upgrading from 4G to 5G will have higher costs than the upgrade from 3G to 4G. 5G will require more hardware upgrades than 4G did due to the need of multiple small cells to be deployed to urban and suburban areas.

Due to 5G using millimeter waves more cell sites will have to be deployed in rural areas since millimeter waves do not travel nearly as far as the lower frequency waves used by current 4G technologies.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel weighed in Friday September 28th on the costs of 5G upgrades. “As a result of our escalating trade war with China, by the end of this year we will have a 25 percent duty on antennas, switches, and routers — the essential network facilities needed for 5G deployment. That’s a real cost and there is no doubt it will diminish our ability to lead the world in the deployment of 5G.”

Future of 5G

Regardless of the costs, 5G is the future and will be available in select markets around 2020 and won’t be widely prevalent till around 2025. Devices capable of utilizing 5G technology are slated to be released in 2019 and as with all new technology there are always bugs and growing pains.