As the major wireless carriers plan to introduce 5G nationwide sometime next year, its arrival has recently been circulating the news. However, small business owners intrigued by promises of blazing fast internet speeds and unprecedented connectivity should know the difference between 5G reality and 5G hype.
What is 5G?
Since mobile phones first became widely used, their technological capability has been demarcated by each generation. The first generation (1G) only allowed for calling. The second generation (2G) allowed for calling and texting. The third-generation (3G) did everything 2G did, but included wireless internet access, while the fourth generation (4G) added high-speed internet to the mix.
The fifth generation of mobile phone technology (5G) represents another leap forward in wireless internet speed. Under International Telecommunication Union standard, true 5G should allow users to access speeds of up to 20 Gbps on a 15 GHz millimeter wave. In essence, that means that 5G should allow for lighting fast internet speed and response time. It would theoretically provide a range of bandwidth that will allow several mobile devices to connect to one access point with little or no decrease in speed.
Most of the major mobile phone carriers are planning to offer 5G service early next year for both mobile phones and home internet. However, despite all the corporate enthusiasm for this new technology, consumers should temper their expectations regarding 5G availability and capability.
What 5G isn’t
One main problem for anyone interested in a quality high-speed internet solution is that, aside from residents of certain major cities, 5G probably won’t be available in their area. As reported by The Verge, the major carriers are still establishing their 5G networks and a full nationwide rollout is still a year or so away. Moreover, because the millimeter wave tech utilizes shorter wavelengths and transmission ranges, it’s vulnerable to interference from walls, windows and even rain. To enjoy the full benefits of 5G, users will need to be inside a network of small antennas. Even by retrofitting existing 4G antennas, providing robust 5G coverage in underpopulated areas will be a real challenge.
Another issue that needs to be resolved is the availability of devices. Major smartphone makers such as Apple and Samsung have yet to announce plans to release a line of 5G phones. In fact, PC Mag notes that iPhone users probably won’t get a 5G device until 2020 at the earliest. Even then, industry insiders believe that 5G will not be a significant upgrade for 4G consumers.
The bottom line
In the years to come, it’s possible that 5G technology will come to revolutionize the world. For instance, it offers the potential to give car makers the capability to mass produce self-driving cars. However, the unfortunate reality is the technology won’t be truly and widely useable until the next decade. As such, small business owners looking for a comprehensive high-speed internet solution should stick with proven technology and proven service providers.
Comcast Business has the largest IP network in the nation, serving the needs of small business through large enterprise customers. Technology solutions range from fast, reliable Ethernet and Internet connectivity to voice, video, and Managed Solutions. Comcast Business is powered by an advanced Gig-ready network and 24/7 technical support. Learn more at business.comcast.com/san-francisco.
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