Major cell service providers are racing to roll out 5G technology across their networks as early as 2019, but what does this mean for the average consumer?
To give a bit of background, 4G LTE technology is currently the most advanced option for consumers today. 4G LTE is short for 4th Generation Long Term Evolution, and technical specifications for this frequency were set in March of 2008 by the ITU-R which regulates global communication standards. According to these standards, connection speeds for mobile devices must have a minimum peak of 100 megabits per second and hotspots must be capable of reaching speeds of 1 gigabit per second.
Despite these impressive speeds, may consumers know that these speeds are largely theoretical. In rural areas or places where signal strength is weak, some users may notice drastically reduced speeds or even an inability to consistently connect to 4G LTE networks. If conditions are not optimized for a stable connection, little improvement is seen for the end user.
Although 5G may suffer from some similar problems, the theoretical capabilities of this fifth generation technology are far more impressive. In major urban areas, consumers are expected to see average speeds of up to 750 megabits per second and rural consumers may see their speeds improve several times over compared to older networks. Additional improvements include a reduction of signal latency, which means that cloud-based gaming may become more accessible for a larger number of consumers.
These large improvements in speeds are due to the use of high-frequency millimeter radio waves which are capable of transmitting more information at higher speeds. Despite these improvements, these higher frequencies have difficulty penetrating objects which means signal boosters will be needed for optimal performance.
In short, 5G technology is still in its infancy and is slowly being rolled out. While some signal reception issues may exist in the beginning, this technology will drastically change data speeds in the near future. It is worth keeping an eye out for new developments, and some consumers may choose to upgrade to 5G compatible devices once they begin hitting the market.
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