5G Wireless Technology. With all the new phones released this year, you have probably heard this mentioned at some point. So, what is it, how available is it, and what does it mean for customers of STRATA?
The technical description of 5G is a “wireless technology meant to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience to more users.”
To sum it up, you as a mobile user will get higher speeds and performance with improved efficiency while on 5G.
What can 5G do?
To dive a little deeper into what 5G speeds can do, we need to look at what previous network generations did.
First-generation - 1G
1980s: 1G delivered analog voice (not encrypted, anyone could listen in).
Second-generation - 2G
Early 1990s: 2G introduced digital voice (encryption was added).
Third-generation - 3G
Early 2000s: 3G brought mobile data (sent pictures).
Fourth-generation - 4G LTE
2010s: 4G LTE ushered in the era of mobile broadband (streaming video).
Which has now led to 5G, or the generation that can provide more connectivity than ever before.
Fifth-generation - 5G
2020s: Improved mobile broadband, faster speeds, cover all spectrum types (licensed, shared, unlicensed) and bands (low, mid, high).
Is 5G available now?
This is the big question most people have, and the answer is yes. Sort of. 5G networks have been launching since early 2019 and are present in quite a few countries, including the United States. But that doesn’t mean they are widely available.
In fact, your experience with a 5G phone right now is likely to be all over the place. You might get incredibly fast speeds in one area and then frustratingly slow speeds in another. This is because the current 5G networks available are limited. While carriers have introduced 5G networks in quite a few heavily populated cities, only some areas will show the speeds associated with 5G.
5G comes in bands: low, mid, and high. They each require access to the radio spectrum from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and cellular towers in the right places.
Most carriers who are promoting 5G are using a low-band signal, which only provides speeds a little faster than 4G LTE. The mid-band range can deliver speeds in the range of 300 Mbps, while the high band is known as millimeter-wave spectrum. This speed can download an entire season of your favorite TV show in seconds.
Unfortunately, millimeter-wave signals are less reliable over long distances and are easily disrupted by obstacles (trees…people…even rain). To make it sufficient for mobile use, carriers need to deploy huge numbers of small access points about every 1000 ft., instead of relying on a few big cell towers as they do now.
The most exciting thing about 5G right now is the capability for the future, and not just for mobile phones. 5G technologies might become crucial for several internet-connected things not only because of its speed but because of its low lag time. This could enable things like remote surgeries, allowing physicians in one location to manipulate network-connected surgical instruments miles away, to name one example.
What does 5G mean for STRATA?
Though 5G may represent substantial progress, particularly for mobile service, it is more evolutionary than revolutionary. It is targeted to and is most effective in densely populated areas, which means it is not the answer—right now—for rural areas. Even though 5G is far from universally available, STRATA is always actively upgrading to help ensure we meet customer demands of the future and to continue to provide the fastest speeds available in the Uintah Basin.