It feels like we have heard about 5G technology for a while. A mysterious and highly anticipated cellular network that promises to bring home and office quality, high-speed broadband to mobile devices, so we can enjoy the same speeds we experience on the inside when we are outside. It sounds too good to be accurate, but if recent reports are to be believed, then that is precisely what we will get.
With proper antenna arrays like the 5G NR (New Radio) massive MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technologies, it will be one of the major keys to unlocking the 5G users access. The issues are deployment and how far they reach.
By massively increasing the number of antennas and additional advances in spatial diversity and multiplexing, beamforming, and MU-MIMO are required for a massive MIMO deployment. This will all facilitate better and increased network capacity and improved coverage with time.
So What Is 5G, and How Is It Different From What We Have Had Before?
First of all, 5G stands for the fifth-generation of wireless network and was set to work with and stand alongside or replace its predecessor 4G in 2020 in specific locations and countries. Although it was instituted, it did not do that and will likely take ten years. Although it began its global deployment in 2019, 2021, and 2022 is the years it is set to break out, according to some United States carriers.
4G itself was a game-changing advancement in mobile technology in its own right. Existing alongside various iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphone models, the network helped both brands rise to prominence and dominate the industry.
Apple and Samsung 5G
Because Apple and Samsung understood how to utilize 4G and made the most of its speed and features. Companies like Nokia did well during the 3G era but ultimately fell behind their rivals Apple and Samsung, arguably not creating a comparable smartphone device that took advantage of what the network could offer.
At the 2020 CES show in January, multiple network providers came out in support of 5G and went on record saying that this will be the year 5G takes off. Representatives from AT&T and Verizon were among them, with one executive stating, “2020 is pivotal because you have got a good foundation built, and the ecosystem starts to form.”
This statement seems to imply that the building blocks for 5G’s success have already been laid and that technology enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to. The reality of the situation with 5G deployment throughout all areas of the United States is many years away from completion, and as we have said in other 5G articles, we still have 3G in much of Alaska.
What Will 5G Mean For Smartphone Owners?
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.
5G Data Allowance
Apps that are always connected to the internet or subscription services like Spotify and Apple Play make it so much easier to stream our content, and more challenging to keep track of how much we have used.
If 5G is to offer any other benefit apart from speed and lower latency, then the concept of data allowance may need to go away forever. Being told by our provider that we were using too much data in our homes and that we needed to cut down on YouTube, Netflix, or online gaming is no fun already.
5G does promise a grand expansion of our networks and work and will work with autonomous driving and be the backbone of this move forward.
It will not take long until we had left an old provider who did not give us these benefits and signed up with a new one. Of course, we are not just blaming the limitations of 4G for the concept of a data allowance; it is much more likely to be a money-making policy enforced by cellular services providers themselves rather than the infrastructure.
Perhaps 5G could create a platform where cellular data is not monetized in the same way it is now? This is exactly what happened with our home and office broadband connections, and if 5G is the beginning of Wi-Fi quality data coming to mobile devices; then maybe it is time to drop such policies?
Electricity, oil, and gas were never free and should not be, but in a free market, that is why we are looking at solar and wind power.
If the line between Wi-Fi and cellular data is blurring, then why have one anyway? As we become more reliant on mobility and our Smartphones and use more and more services through them, it makes sense that 5G will usher in an era of infinite data. At least we sincerely hope it will!
How Will Cellular Data Providers Respond?
Our primary concern with 5G is how much providers will charge for access to it via their networks, and we discussed this extensively in another article, “How Much Will 5G Data Really Cost You?”
It is reasonable to assume that in time, 5G will just become the norm. Meaning prices will stabilize, but as with any innovation in technology, it comes at a premium in the beginning.
According to the New York Times, Verizon’s prices for 5G data plans were just $10 more on average than their 4G counterparts. This is not a massive difference in price, but for many people, that is an additional $120 a year on their cell phone bill and an extra $240 over a 48-month contract, which is significant.
Naturally, those who do not want to pay this extra money can buy an older cell phone model that does not have access to 5G. By the time that contact has ended, perhaps prices may have come down, and 5G is now considered the standard.
This is exactly what happened when 4G arrived. Chances are we are paying the same price each month for our 4G iPhone X contract as we did with our iPhone 3GS back in 2010.
Fast forward to 2022, and the price hike may be a thing of the past. It is common for new technology to be more expensive in the beginning, so we cannot judge providers too harshly for this.
What About Cell Phones?
It is also reasonable to assume; that to take advantage of 5G, we will need a new phone. In fact, this has been confirmed by many of the carriers. Currently, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is 5G compatible, and the Apple iPhone’s newest upcoming possible model number 12 is expected to be Apple’s first foray into the 5G world. Those who are considering upgrading their phones may want to wait a little longer to take advantage of the benefits 5G will bring.
Apple and Samsung have been criticized in the past for their handsets, sometimes being too similar to the previous model that was released. While this is debated, as some do not agree, the criticism is warranted, it is almost certainly not going to be by the time the iPhone 12 arrives.
We imagine that this will be a real jump for the iPhone, comparable to the difference between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5, which was the first to make use of 4G technology and arguably, where the boom in streaming from cellular data began.
Where Else is 5G Making an Impact?
It is not just Smartphones that plan on taking advantage of 5G in the future; other industries in the technology world are also planning their own seismic changes. The gaming industry is one example; 5G technology could change the shape of gaming in a big way.
Both Sony and Microsoft will be releasing their next generation of consoles in 2020, and both companies plan on utilizing 5G technology in new and innovative ways.
Sony recently patented something called the PSP 5G that many fans expected to be the company’s follow up to their now discontinued PS Vita. The tech giant has since poured cold water on the rumors, but it is telling that Sony is toying with such ideas.
When Sony released the PS Vita, they created a 4G model that offered constant internet connectivity for gamers on the go, but the feature never caught on. Could Sony be considering bringing this feature back on a new machine but using 5G?
Gaming’s 5G Future
Sony has heard rival Microsoft who makes the Xbox; also has plans for the 5G network in 2020 and beyond. The computing giant is creating something called Project xCloud, which will use 5G to stream PC and Xbox games to tablets and other devices.
Allowing Microsoft to potentially turn any screen into a portable Xbox by using the network. Streaming it seems it will be a big part of 5G’s appeal regardless of which device it happens to be used on.
It has also been reported that the third gaming giant, Nintendo will create a 5G equipped follow up to their Nintendo Switch console, although this is yet to be confirmed by the company themselves.
As home consoles can use home Wi-Fi, we do not expect the advent of 5G will change much in the home, but the advances 5G provides in terms of streaming may allow us to take our console anywhere, at least figuratively, using or tablets and cell phones as conduits.
Final Thoughts On 5G Technology
Whatever happens, it looks like 5G will revolutionize our mobile lives, from our productivity to our mobile leisure pursuits, giving us access to speed and services that 3G and 4G were unable to provide. While we are cautious to see how much these services will cost us through our cell phone contracts, we are also excited to see what 5G has to offer and what paths it can lead us down.