Just as we've all started to become accustomed to the fast download speeds of 4G networks, there's talk of a newer, faster, sleeker 5G network being rolled out as soon as 2020. New breakthroughs in technology could pave the way to 5G, which would soar past 4G to allow wireless data connections at speeds of 800Gbps. Although merely theoretical at the moment, this would be 100 times faster than what's currently being tested, allowing a user to download over 30 full length films in the span of a second.
5G networking could allow everyday devices to communicate with one another, with near-instantaneous data transfers enabling new technologies like driverless cars. It's billed as the wave of the future, but is it realistic? Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of what many believe to be the future of mobile networking.
Benefits to 5G
The benefits of a superfast 5G connection are fairly obvious - not only would we benefit from the speeds, but also from a higher network capacity. As we've made the transition from casual mobile browsing to transmitting vast volumes of data using mobile apps, there's an increasing strain on the network. Carrier networks have been feeling the strain, which is why 4G has become so prevalent and why carriers like Nokia Networks are now exploring 5G. It would allow for greater bandwidth distribution, enabling faster downloads and more complex apps.
Some say that the greatest benefits of 5G relate more to what this type of network could do for other types of technology. This type of infrastructure would allow cities to become connected, along with cars and appliances to create the new "internet of things" where gadgets can communicate to one another at rapid speeds.
Barriers in the way
One factor to consider when looking at implementing 5G is the need for a higher number of small cells, or "femtocells." While 3G networks can operate using large base stations or cells, serving wide ranges with a single cell, 4G and 5G networks require more specialized cells. These cover a smaller amount of users, distributed widely across a particular region. At least at the initial stage, this can cost more money for carriers. Carriers will also need to find a better way to manage the radio spectrum in order to make room for 5G, which would operate in the higher spectrums currently utilized by satellite and mobile lines. We'd need to open up higher radio frequencies or find new ways to manage the spectrum to enable this new technology.
The future of mobile
The overall prospect of 5G is exciting to many, but there are sceptics out there who wonder if 2020 is really an accurate goal. Fast download speeds and a more efficient use of bandwidth could be convenient, but 4G already solves some of these problems. Some argue that our phones and gadgets haven't yet caught up to what 5G would enable them to do, so we need to solve those problems first before focusing on rolling out this superfast network. These are all interesting questions to think about. It seems inevitable that 5G will arrive at some point in the future, but will we be ready for it? A lot can be accomplished in 5 years, so we'll have to wait and see.