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By: Craig Badrick on February 8th, 2016


What You Need To Know About The Speed of 5G Wireless Networks


spped of 5G wireless networksAre you in one of the areas that receives solid, reliable 4G coverage, or do sections of your hometown still consider themselves lucky when 3G is available? Most cities and cell service carriers now have solid 4G coverage, leaving many to wonder: what's next? When will 5G become available, and what kinds of speed and service can we expect with a 5G network? This post explains.

What the 'G' Means

Those in cities are crying, "Bring on the 5G!", while rural dwellers are just hoping their area one day upgrades to the current standard of 4G.

Each G stands for generation. The 3G stands for the third generation of cellular network, the 4G is the fourth generation, etc. Each generation is defined by a marked improvement over the old system. In other words, while 3G was the industry standard, there were constant improvements in speed and service being made to the 3G capabilities. It did not become 4G until it reached an average of 9.5Mbps, compared to 3.6Mbps for 3G.

The problem is, today's consumers are constantly in search of the next best thing. For example, no matter how popular the last release of the iPhone is, users are still lining up at the doors to snatch up the next version. This leads to many products and services being rushed to market, and this may end up being the case with the 5G wireless network. Expect at least some cell service providers to begin offering 5G devices and services in the very near future, before technology has actually made enough of an advancement to justify an entirely new generation of cell service.

Are We There Yet?

Though significant advancements in speed and quality have been made since 4G was released, 5G isn't quite here yet. Even with the rush to market, it could be a few years before carriers begin to advertise 5G coverage or devices. You can expect to see incremental upgrades along the way, such as 4.25, 4.5, and 4.75, before 5G is ready for market.

The rollout of 5G will most likely be marked by the Internet of Things. There are already 6 billion mobile phone users depending on 3G and 4G networks. The basic mobile devices are gradually replaced by smartphones and other smart devices. A smartphone puts 30 times the demand on a network as do the basic mobile devices, which means that cell service providers will have to up their wireless network game significantly just to keep up with current users, to say nothing about new devices and users coming online. The Internet of Things is expected to bring another 21 billion connected devices by the year 2020.

5G = 4G Enhanced

With the influx of devices that come along with the Internet of Things, 5G might have speeds as much as 1,000 times faster than 4G.

What will 5G look like in terms of speed and capacity? Carriers will need to increase current capacity by about 1,000 times in order to keep up with growing demand. Some of the improvements can be made by finding new ways to get better capacity out of existing spectrum. But that alone won't be enough. Lower frequencies are simply too crowded, and higher frequencies (60 gigahertz and better) are not capable of sending a signal far enough and can't be used in busy cities due to blockages by buildings and such that impede the signal. Additionally, the devices and components used for higher frequencies are just too expensive for the average consumer.

Expect to see the number of small indoor cells increase, along with improvements in MIMO. While 4G can manage hundreds of megabits, 5G capabilities will likely be more like a gigabit per second. Multi-user MIMOs are also a possibility. But the most likely scenario is that a new, unforeseen disruptive technology is on the way to catapult this generation from 4G to the next generation of mobile speed and capabilities.

Is it time to boost network capabilities in your business? You don't have to wait for 5G to do that. Request a quote from Turn-Key Technologies today.

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