The transition to new fifth-generation cellular networks, known as 5G, will affect how you use smartphones and many other devices. Let’s talk about the essentials.
By Don Clark Dec. 31, 2018
In 2019, a big technology shift will finally begin. It’s a once-in-a-decade upgrade to our wireless systems that will start reaching mobile phone users in a matter of months.
But this is not just about faster smartphones. The transition to new fifth-generation cellular networks — known as 5G for short — will also affect many other kinds of devices, including industrial robots, security cameras, drones and cars that send traffic data to one another. This new era will leap ahead of current wireless technology, known as 4G, by offering mobile internet speeds that will let people download entire movies within seconds and most likely bring big changes to video games, sports and shopping.
Officials in the United States and China see 5G networks as a competitive edge. The faster networks could help spread the use of artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies.
The crucial questions are how consumers will benefit from 5G? Initially, only users living in densely populated areas will have 5G access via short-range mmWave devices. AT&T and Verizon are focusing on parts and pockets of cities with a point to point services, not mobile cell phone service. They plan to use lower frequencies later that go much farther than the mmWave currently in use, but that will be 2020 or beyond. According to the NYT article, this will be mobile service. In the meantime, T-Mobile and Sprint will be offering lower frequency devices for cellular service, not point to point.
As you read the article, it does not appear that rural users will be getting a 5G services soon. At least not until the lower frequency 5G is available, but only mobile services, no point to point service.
“I wouldn’t buy a 5G phone until it supports 5G in one of the lower-frequency bands,” Mr. Thelander said. “For all operators but Sprint, this means at least late 2019, and more likely 2020.”
It looks like the first rural user investment will have to be a 5G to a WiFi hotspot.
With the line of sight requirements and short-range limitations. 5G is not a rural friendly technology.