When you visualize the future, what is the first thing you see? Hyper-connectivity. A world where self-driving cars, smart home IoT, chess-playing artificial intelligence, and telemedicine bots communicate wirelessly over the cloud, closing the gap between space and time, and completing tasks in the blink of an eye. For this wonderfully advanced dream to come to life, an always-on internet connection is a given.
Now, there are different kinds of networks that strive to achieve this goal of constant connectivity. From DSL to fiber-optic, internet lines supply first-class speeds to homes and businesses across the US. Even though this scenario looks promising enough, still the demand for faster, flexible, and seamless network connectivity persists. To address this need, Charter Spectrum offers incredibly fast connectivity with its Spectrum internet plans, however, to pave the way towards hands-free mobility, the cellular industry has unleashed a new technology that goes by the name of 5G.
What is 5G internet?
5G stands for ‘fifth generation’. It is the latest iteration of wireless internet that saw a limited deployment back in 2019. What makes 5G different from the previous standards is the fact that it can bring around 10 Gig speeds straight to your smartphone. This is a revolutionary move for any cellular network. 5G speeds are expected to be 600x faster than 4G, which is already prevalent across the world. Not only that, but they are also supposed to surpass Google Fiber, which enables you to download 4K quality movies in less than a minute, by ten times.
US carriers have already started running tests and proclaimed a nationwide release of 5G in late 2020. For this to come to pass, a huge investment in wireless infrastructure, erection of beamforming towers across all localities, and a whole new batch of 5G-friendly devices need to be completed before we can move to the next phase.
What are its Origins?
To appreciate the progress that has been made in the field of wireless internet, you need to retrace your steps to where it all began. The first generation of the mobile network was brought to light in the late 70s and carried unencrypted, although patchy, analog data over radio waves. The second generation came out in the 90s and was a step ahead of its predecessor in such a way that it carried digital data over an improved wireless spectrum that could encrypt calls and deliver at the speeds of the early dial-ups. The third generation saw a boost in bandwidth and witnessed the birth of the smartphone phenomenon, which slowly pushed by Google, Apple, and Facebook, converted to the fourth generation of mobile networks. This is when the carriers upgraded their plans and expanded their coverage across the nation. Now, the fifth generation of wireless is being talked about with AT&T experimenting on high-speed “millimeter wave” technology, which pushes the wireless frequency range above and beyond the 30 GHz mark. If you take a look at Verizon, you will also find a home internet variation of 5G that is essentially ‘fixed wireless’.
When Can You Expect a Massive 5G Rollout?
5G is indeed taking too long to roll out, but the speeds that the developers are aspiring to achieve cannot be commercially distributed within a day. To deploy 5G faster, the mobile industry needs access to high-end frequencies without being held back by government regulations and political influences. At the core of 5G, there lies the “millimeter-wave” technology, previously mentioned as well. This technology enables the wireless developers to tap into a whole new side of the spectrum that has the potential of delivering data over 10-Gbps speeds. However fast and promising, this technology does suffer from one limitation. It cannot hold the speeds over long distances and can face interference from external objects, like trees. That is why mobile carriers need enough capital and investment at their back to install multiple 5G access points in a locality instead of relying on a handful of big towers as they do with 4G today. Not only that, but these access points will also need to be linked to wired infrastructure, preferably fiber, for bringing steady and hybrid speeds to people’s homes. It sounds time-consuming and expensive, right? That is why we will have to be patient. Even though 5G looks distant from this standpoint, but you can see the pieces closing in.