The tech world is buzzing with news about the 5G networks as all four major American network carriers in the United States have now released a version of a 5G network. The 5G (fifth generation) network is the newest wireless network and will be substantially faster than 4G.
We have talked about the 5G Network in our previous article, “How Much Will 5G Data Really Cost You?" In that article, we covered the cost impacts of 5G networks and the speeds and technical information.
I live in remote Alaska where there is barley 3G and don’t see us getting to 4G, let alone 5G anytime soon. For most of my life, I lived in a large city with cutting edge technology and the benefits of living with 4G.
The 5G promise is very exciting for many reasons we list below but do we need a 5G Phone in rural Alaska? The answer is no because there is no connection and if you live in a rural area the answer is more than likely the same for you.
Nome Alaska is 143 miles from the Arctic Circle and you can see Russia on a clear day from Wales which is in the Nome census area and Nort of Nome. If you measure on Google Maps Lavrentiya Russia is 179 miles from Nome Alaska.
On 4 June 2010, Sprint released the first 4G Phone in the U.S. and we still don't have it in Nome or in Homer Alaska where I lived before. Now I can only speak for my experience but as you will see the answer is still most likely no.
When 4G technology emerged in larger cities, it quickly overtook 3G technology, making it important for people to upgrade their phones to take advantage of the new advances. With 5G beginning to roll out across the rest of the United States, do smartphone users need to upgrade their phones?
While 5G technology will provide significant advances with time, it is unlikely that 4G phones are going to be outdated anytime soon.
5G is the newest high-speed wireless network. The G’ refers to generation, with this being the fifth generation of wireless technology. Its spectrum of radio frequencies used by carriers, like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, will transmit data at an extremely high frequency (EHF), which will enable better connections than current 4G networks.
According to Qualcomm, 5G networks will send information at multiple Gigabits per second when at peak speed. Essentially, 5G will provide 10 to 100 times faster speeds than your usual cellular connection. At these speeds, you can download a whole movie in a few seconds.
While faster speeds are currently one of the critical selling points of a 5G network, it is not the only notable feature. 5G offers several new advancements that will likely transform how we interact with devices and technology in the future.
This network will also allow significantly more devices to connect at the same time to the network than current cellular networks allow. Wireless networks, in general, allow multiple devices to connect to the same internet connection without using wires. As a result, the devices can share information and move around freely without losing connection to the internet.
However, the 5G network will have a huge capacity, which will likely allow a truly unlimited internet service, even for home users. Additionally, it could potentially change how home users connect to the internet. Instead of having internet service from a cable, you could conceivably get your internet service from a router that has an antenna to receive wireless signals from your service provider.
5G network will also offer very low latencies, which will allow for devices to communicate with each other faster. This could help advance technology such as virtual and augmented reality and provide an even better gaming experience with your smartphone. For instance, the low latencies of a 5G network make it possible to turn smartphones into devices that can be utilized with Virtual Reality headsets. This will allow you to experience virtual reality while being able to move around freely.
The low latencies and less congested network, even during peak usage times, will help improve your mobile gaming experience. First, games downloads, like any other type of download, will be faster, which can also help save your battery.
You could also experience less waiting on games that require an internet connection to track specific information about your game. The low latency will help lower the time in between when you take action in a game and when that action is recorded. This improvement could be particularly beneficial for multiplayer games.
Lastly, the 5G speeds may make it possible to stream games as you do on consoles or PCs. It may ultimately be possible to stream games from a remote server, like you currently may use your phone to stream movies. This reaction may be possible thanks to 5G’s faster speeds, which would allow games to stream smoothly.
5G’s low latency also can have an important impact on devices and technology other than smartphones. For instance, the low latencies can help further advance self-driving car technology since vehicles would be able to communicate with each other and other road infrastructure instantaneously. The low latencies can also benefit medical technology, such as allowing for more advancements in robotic surgery.
5G provides carriers with more airwave options than 4G. For instance, 5G can work on short-range airwaves, also referred to as high-bands, that 4G technology couldn’t utilize. Additionally, 5G can operate on other airwaves as well, including low-bands, medium-bands, and high-bands. These different bands provide different experiences. The aforementioned is important because 5G speeds are related to the number of available channels and how wide they are.
Low-band 5G is operating in frequencies below 1GHz. These frequencies travel long distances well but are currently being used by 4G too. Therefore, any 5G operating in this band tends to operate at slower speeds.
Mid-band 5G uses a 1-10GHz range. Most cellular and WiFi frequencies use this mid-band range. A positive of this band is that it travels reasonably well, and there are a lot of available towers in this frequency range.
High-band is currently in the 20-100GHz range, also referred to as the millimeter-wave. This range hasn’t been used with consumer applications before. These are very short range, but there is a lot of room in this high-band to carry data and is one of the reasons for the excitement around 5G. This unused spectrum can allow for very fast speeds, which 5G can utilize.
This has a lot to do with where you live of course but while the potential advances of 5G are exciting, your 4G phone will still be useful for several years. One reason 4G will still be useful is that 5G is building on 4G LTE instead of replacing it. Because of this, people currently using 5G are likely using 4G LTE for many of their connections at present.
According to the Global System for Mobile Communications intelligence, it’s estimated that 15 percent of mobile connections in the world will be on 5G by 2025. Furthermore, 5G will likely complement 4G LTE instead of replacing it.
While all the major carriers in the United States have begun to unlock the 5G network, currently, these 5G networks can’t standalone. These networks require 4G to help them make the initial connection between a phone and a network.
Before then moving the connection to 5G. 5G radios are being added to the core 4G network. Eventually, 5G will move to a standalone stage where users connect directly to a 5G network, but this could take some time before it happens.
4G will also be more likely to be used for several years in more rural areas, where it may take more time to upgrade. Smart devices, such as smart home products, will also need to continue to use a 4G network for some time.
Furthermore, as other people move to 5G, this will free up space on 4G networks. Free space will provide 4G networks with more capacity, which will help improve speeds on those networks.
Unfortunately, it seems that your 4G phone will not be compatible with 5G, but your 5G phone will be compatible with 4G. Confusing? That said, it is going to be some time before the full benefits of 5G are available, so, for now, you’re unlikely to be missing out unless you like being at the forefront of technology.
In small towns and remote areas, it seems unlikely that 5G is coming any time soon but in a series of 5G articles from Forbes Magazine, they use the description of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” which relies on the continued growth of IoT (Internet of Things) Artificial Intelligence and Self Driving cars which will help bring the infrastructure of 5G along for the ride.
But as it says, “rural communities often lag behind because of connectivity constraints. Next-gen advancements could level that playing field.”
“It’s machines talking to machines, doing all sorts of tasks. All of that requires real-time connectivity. 5G is the ultimate enabler of the fourth industrial revolution,” Carvallo says. “With 5G, rural America will have the ability to leapfrog.”
While a 5G network has the potential to change a lot of aspects of technology in the future, at present, providers are still rolling out their services. For instance, most major carriers have started offering 5G only in a few major cities, and sometimes only to select businesses or individuals.
One reason for the slow rollout is because carriers need to build additional infrastructure that can fully support a 5G network and provide quality coverage. At present, many carriers in the United States are using the high-band or millimeter waves.
These frequencies have a lot of room to carry data but don’t travel well through obstacles. Fortunately, lower frequencies that travel better through obstacles will be coming for 5G, but it is estimated that won’t occur until later into 2020 or 2021.
Another reason is that they need more cell towers to provide better coverage right now. The cost of upgrading is expensive and will take time.
As we discussed in our article quoted at the beginning of this article, there is also the potential that newer 5G phones and services could cost more during this early phase. 5G phones will need top-of-the-line chipsets with 5G modems. Also, carriers may decide to charge a premium to utilize the 5G network at this time. However, as time passes, many of these types of costs will decrease.
So, if you don’t need to be at the cutting edge of technology, you can stay with your 4G phone for now. You may even find that you benefit from improved functionality with your 4G phone as people begin to turn to 5G. There will ultimately be a time when moving to 5G makes sense, but it is unlikely to occur now.
Overall, most people can wait to upgrade to a 5G phone unless you enjoy being on the cutting edge of technology. While 5G phone users in large metropolitan areas will have improved speed at times, overall, more work on the 5G network is needed before smartphones and other technology can take full advantage.
You will not have 5G access anytime soon in many rural or remote areas. As we said earlier we still don't have 4G in rural Alaska 10 years after the first 4G phone was released and I can assure you my iPhone 11 Pro does not know.
Interestingly enough Apple does not even have a 5G phone on the market yet. But if you’re hoping to make a move to 5G, however, you’re in luck. There are already several 5G phones out on the market, and more options will be coming soon, including a possible iPhone version announced in the fall of 2020 or early 2021.
That said, there are some advantages to waiting. As with any new technological advancement, it takes time before devices can take full advantage of the upgrades. Also, more time is needed for 5G to grow and mature. At present, 5G coverage will also be limited across much of the United States and could be spotty at times until the infrastructure is completed.
The story of the Smartphone is so amazing and interesting it would be hard to make this entire narrative up. It is so intricately entwined in the ingenuity of humanity and the necessity to continue to discover and grow as a species. There is always hope!
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The ultimate mission of cellular data has always been to be on par with Wi-Fi. 4G has come close in many ways, but let’s be honest; we know there are things we can do at home on our computers or tablets that we cannot do on our cell phones. When we are at home, we think nothing of streaming.
Depending on your internet provider and plan, if you have modern Wi-Fi, you may have no data allowance or cap, so some can go to town and binge as many Netflix shows as we like.
However, this abundance of data has not yet crossed over into our mobile lives. Many of us are on data plans, and it is always possible to use up all of our data before we know it. Streaming through our phones is one way we risk doing this, which is why most people are still relatively conservative in their mobile streaming habits, but this is becoming harder to do.
Before the holidays, we wrote a blog post called “How Can You Hear Something That’s Not In Your Ear?” The blog's title was inspired by my father-in-law asking me that very same question while we were on a family holiday. As a prolific writer and self-confessed workaholic, I was busy writing my latest article while listening to the Killer's latest album through my Bone Conduction headphones.
Due to Bone Conduction headphones sending the music directly into my inner ear, I was able to enjoy it while I concentrated on my work, but without shutting out my surroundings. I was on a family vacation; after all, one which included dogs and small children all running around together.
It was sensible to keep an eye (and both ears) on them just in case I was needed to do a spot of parenting. Fortunately for me, my Bone Conduction headphones allow this due to their design. Other headphones may have blocked out the sound entirely.
Being able to charge your phone whenever you need to can also be a timesaver. There are few things as frustrating as losing charge on your phone while you’re talking to a business connection or trying to find your way to a new store.
For frequent travelers, it also can be difficult to have easy access to a reliable, safe charger. While many public places like airports often have a public charging station, you might want to think twice before using it. Experts warn that public charging stations can also be a way for hackers to upload a virus to your phone.