With a 40% projected global network coverage by 2024 and an estimated 1.5 billion subscribers, 5G internet may be in its early stages of implementation, but that number is clearly expected to rise. With this anticipated network revolution, the question is not if the next generation of internet coverage will catch on, but how will it change our lives when it does?
Unprecedented speeds, negligible latency, and unlimited data capacity are some of the better known capabilities of 5G internet, but how these translate into everyday benefits bears a closer look. To that end, here's a deeper dive into all that 5G has to offer, and how it will change the consumer's digital landscape.
Because we've gone into more technical depth elsewhere, we'll spare you too many details, but 5G is short for fifth generation and refers to the most recent advancements in internet connectivity. As the name implies, there were four generations of network deployment preceding 5G, characterized by the following:
- 1G - Creating the world's first analog cell phones
- 2G - Voicemail and SMS messages were introduced to mobile handsets
- 3G - Enabling of web browsing and sharing and GPS location tracking
- 4G - Improved reliability, internet speeds, and high-volume web streaming
While 4G typically possessed speeds of up to 100 Mbps, 5G runs at speeds of up to 10 Gbps — a potential hundredfold increase over its parent network. Other 5G features include an average latency time of as little as one millisecond, and an increased bandwidth that can make big data handling commonplace for the masses.
So besides more speed and a higher data cap, what does all that extra bandwidth mean for consumers today? Some applications like faster gaming and downloads immediately come to mind (a two-hour movie can be downloaded in 3.6 seconds using 5G, compared to six minutes with 4G LTE). But a better sense of its benefits comes when we consider 5G internet in the two main consumer arenas: home and mobile usage.
1. The Modern Home Will Struggle to Function Without 5G Internet
In 2020, the average American home consumed 344 gigabytes of data each month — 38 times more than they used ten years earlier. At this rate, Americans are likely to exceed one terabyte of data per month within the next few years, which is where most internet service providers (ISPs) cap their data usage. If nothing changes, the result will be costly data overage fees and throttling that will grind the lives of many households to a halt.
Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are responsible for some of this drastic rise in consumption, but as entire homes become more digitally integrated, data usage will only continue to climb. From appliances and lights to security and smart systems, the modern home relies on data usage to perform even its most fundamental tasks. Couple that with the projected rise of remote working and education, and data dependency will only heighten.
Enter 5G. With a higher bandwidth and transmission frequency, 5G unclogs digital highways so that users are free to access the data they need in a world that struggles to function without it. The reduced latency time will not just be a comfort for gamers, but will also make remote videoconferencing possible for those working from home. It will also enable the real-time interaction students will need to succeed in a virtual classroom setting. Along with its faster speed, the greater capacity associated with larger frequency channels will make big data analysis accessible to users that once required an enterprise-level connection to interact with cloud-based computing that they could only get at the office.
In other words, 5G internet will supply the average household with the connectivity upgrades they need to make life possible in our digitally immersive world.
2. 5G Internet Will Make TV Bundles Obsolete
The advent of all those streaming services has made cable television all but a thing of the past. Studies show that by 2022, 55% of Americans will have " cut the cord" and removed their cable subscriptions entirely. From pricing to channel selection to lack of interest in TV, Americans have many reasons for canceling their cable services, but all of them point to the reality that ISPs can no longer incentivize their home internet with a cable add-on — even if they bundle the two for a discount.
How does that connect to 5G? The increasingly popular streaming services that have replaced cable require a high-quality internet signal to facilitate them — one that puts a strain on lower-tier 4G internet. Add in a gamer or two in your household and you will find that some legacy connections already struggle to support the digital demands placed on them by viewers today — a trend that will only intensify as applications become more data-intensive.
With 5G internet, families will easily be able to support all of their favorite streaming services, making the TV bundle obsolete.
3. Mobile Bundles Will Stay
In an effort to stay afloat, many companies offering TV bundles give consumers even deeper discounts if they also sign on to their mobile plans. These companies are often able to do so by purchasing services from mobile providers, but since these mobile providers can now offer wireless internet plans, they themselves are able to offer deeper discounts to consumers looking to save.
By leading the charge in 5G network implementation, mobile providers like AT&T or Verizon can offer the next generation of home internet services to their mobile customers — accelerating 5G spread in the process.
4. Getting 5G Internet to Rural Communities Will Take Some Time
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimated that roughly one-fourth of rural Americans still lack internet access that meets government minimum speeds of 25 Mbps download, and 3 Mbps upload. The digital famine experienced in many rural and impoverished urban communities has left many hoping for a widespread connectivity solution, but those looking to 5G to meet that need may have to look elsewhere for now.
The mmWave frequency that carries 5G internet can only travel short distances (about 250 feet) and is susceptible to interference from obstacles like trees. Because of that, 5G internet is better suited to developed urban areas with high population density, so that it can serve the maximum amount of people at once. Such places are also better equipped to implement the small-cell technology needed to make 5G internet work, and can also rely on fiber optic connections to support the baseload stationary demands of in-home users while 5G connects customers on the go.
So, while other solutions are being found to bring high-speed internet into rural communities, 5G internet may take some time to reach them.
5. Mobile Is How We'll Connect
Our world increasingly revolves around our phones, and they may soon become our sole means of linking to the web. The World Advertising Research Center (WARC) projects that 72.6% of the world will access the internet exclusively using their smartphones by 2025. By contrast, the same report estimated that 69 million users will go online only via their PCs — 53 times less than their mobile-only counterparts.
The short-range, high-speed transmission delivered by 5G makes it the perfect vehicle for internet users who connect strictly by using their phones — especially in urban populations. Fiber optic connections will play a role in long-distance signal transmission, but in congested areas where mobile-only users are most prominent, 5G will be thoroughly implemented and ready to meet all users’ digital needs.
Finding the best mobile phone for you is of course a matter of your own needs, and deciding between Apple or Android is often a matter of preference. That said, both have phones that support 5G internet. Here's a list of each:
- Samsung: Samsung Galaxy
S21 5G Series, Samsung Galaxy
S20 Series, Samsung
Galaxy Note 10 Series,
Samsung Galaxy S10
5G, Samsung Galaxy A90 5G, Samsung Galaxy
A71/ A51 5G, Samsung
- iPhone: iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max
iPhone versions 11 and under do not support 5G internet. But while Samsung produces more models that are capable of supporting 5G internet, Apple has its share as well and is sure to come out with more.
There is some controversy regarding the safety of the mmWave frequency over which 5G internet is transmitted. While some scientists have expressed concerns about the potential of long-term exposure to this new form of electromagnetic radiation, no decisive evidence has been found to determine whether mmWave is harmful to your health. Further research is still being conducted, but for now the FCC has reaffirmed its current regulation of radiation exposure limits that fall into a similar range.
There's been no shortage of hype and confusion surrounding 5G internet technology, and while all innovations take time to unfold, here's what we know so far:
- With its larger bandwidth and higher frequency,
5G will empower consumers to use the data they need at the speed
they need for functioning in a digital
- The arrival of 5G internet at a time when urban
density and mobile-only web connection are at an all-time high will
make it the signal connection of choice for most parts of the
planet that have access to it.
- Cable TV bundles are already being replaced by
streaming services — a trend that will only continue as 5G internet
makes streaming more convenient.
- Mobile bundles will be increasingly leveraged
by ISPs to promote their 5G internet
- Sparsely populated rural communities will have
to wait longer until 5G internet becomes
- There are no known adverse health effects of
the mmWave frequency over which 5G internet is
- There are plenty of phones provided by Samsung, Apple, and other providers that are compatible with 5G.
While much remains to be said about the future of 5G internet, one thing remains certain: it will change the way consumers live forever. We at Novotech are prepared for that change, and we look forward to helping your organization make the leap into the next generation of connectivity.