It’s appearing in TV commercials, making daily headlines and maybe even appearing on your cell phone as a little “5G” to let you know – it is here. The long-awaited 5G network has started to launch across the country and will continue to gain momentum as the years go on.
What we all know is that 5G is “faster and better”. That is what the cell carriers have promised us. But there is much more about 5G that many don’t know.
How fast is it?
Simply put, 5G is 10-12x faster than 4G. The current 4G networks offer 50 milliseconds of latency, while 5G will offer latencies of 5 milliseconds or less. More technically speaking, ABI Research anticipates that 5G will provide a 10 times improvement in throughput, a 10 times decrease in latency, a 100 times improvement in traffic capacity and a 100 times improvement in network efficiency as compared to 4G.
It will be delivered “closer to home”
Cell towers are still part of the equation, but small cells and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) have emerged as key components of the 5G network. These much smaller pieces of equipment are being deployed on top of buildings, inside light poles and even on top of your favorite big box store. The result is a seamless handoff no matter where consumers go, even in areas that previously did not have consistent cellular reception such as underground subways.
There will be a shift in how consumers view traditional cellular service
From a consumer perspective, 5G will more closely resemble a WiFi network due to the use of small cells and DAS. With these hundreds of thousands of access points, the network is becoming incredibly dense and off-loading the cell towers, resulting in higher latency and increased reliability that enables future applications such as near-real-time Internet of Things (IoT) analytics, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality and more.
Space companies are investing in 5G technology
The access points are eventually going to be everywhere – including space. A handful of space companies are seeing the potential of 5G and investing in satellites to deliver 5G to everyone on the planet. One of the frontrunners is SpaceX, which has already received approval to launch nearly 12,000 Starlink internet satellites, with plans to launch 30,000 more according to Space.com.
5G will introduce a whole new breath of capabilities – and challenges – to enterprises
A report by Accenture calculates that 5G will add $500 billion to US GDP annually, as enterprises leverage the technology to create new innovations and reshape industries, including their best practices and design standards. The future of 5G holds the promise of next-generation business and consumer applications that will not only encompass IoT and smart city technologies, but also opportunities for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) with a variety of applications – from telesurgery to drone deliveries.
With new opportunities also comes new challenges, as 5G ushers in a whole new level of security concerns for enterprises as the amount of smart devices and consumable data skyrockets.
Edge data centers are playing an important role in the 5G network
5G has given rise to edge computing, which takes critical resources from the centralized core and places them in closer proximity to the data source in order to reduce latency and increase resilience. Edge data centers are the key component to providing the data storage and processing power required by edge computing.
Self-driving cars, emergency communications and more depend on information being relayed with lightning speed for human safety. Latency, bandwidth and security all pose challenges for real-time information when moving data to and from the public cloud. As the number of IoT-enabled devices grow, reliable colocation facilities, and not in just Tier 1 cities, will become the cornerstone of smart technologies moving forward.
The availability of 5G has the potential to completely transform how we live, work and play – and we are just at the cusp of experiencing this incredible surge in innovation. We can’t wait to see what it brings.