The past decade was defined by game-changing technologies. We saw flip smartphones with foldable screens. We saw the beginning of the era of the smart home, with IoT and voice-activated assistants. By the end of the decade, the hottest tech topic everywhere was 5G. The intense race between the United States and China to develop 5G technology has resulted in ushering in the next generation of wireless connectivity. This blog discusses everything you need to know about 5G technology.
A Look at 5G Technology
5G is the fifth generation of wireless cellular internet services. Almost everyone uses 4G or LTE on the smartphones we have today. 5G is the next evolution of the technology, bringing game-changing speeds and latency to American wireless consumers. 5G differs from 4G because it uses something called mmWave or millimeter-wave.
mmWave allows 5G to deliver much faster speeds at much lower latencies. That means data travels between a source and a device connected to a 5G network several times faster than existing 4G or LTE technology. The key areas in which 5G dominates other forms of wireless cellular technology is the immense speed and improved connectivity. Think of a Cox Internet 10 Mbps residential internet service. A lossless wired connection would mean 1 GB of data takes 14 minutes and 40 seconds to download to a device. 5G takes just 17 seconds to download the same data, according to a prototype demonstration by Motorola, Verizon, and Qualcomm.
Let’s say you want to download a 2-hour feature film to watch at home. Older 3G networks would take more than a day, or 26 hours, to download the movie. 4G can download the same movie in just 6 minutes. Think that’s fast? 5G gets the job done in a mere 3.6 seconds. Puts “fast” into perspective, doesn’t it?
Providers Offering 5G in the US in 2020
By the end of the last decade, many wireless providers in the United States began to make changes to their infrastructure. This gave several of them a headstart to roll out 5G technology early on. In the US, three providers currently offer limited 5G services.
Cellular provider T-Mobile launched one of the biggest 5G networks in the US by the end of 2019. The provider proudly announces it is the largest 5G provider in the country. It claims the network covers an area of more than one million square miles, including many rural and sparsely populated areas. Unlike other providers, T-mobile uses a low-band spectrum for 5G coverage. While this allows it to cover a much larger area, it also means that it has somewhat slower 5G speeds than other providers.
AT&T is a powerhouse in the telecommunications industry and remains one of the leaders in introducing 5G in the country. However, compared to T-Mobile, the provider offers 5G services to very limited markets. It has currently rolled out coverage to 12 major cities across the United States. Thanks to state-of-the-art wireless infrastructure, AT&T offers 5G in much the same way as a conventional cellular wireless service.
Wireless giant Verizon was among one of the first providers to launch 5G services in America. However, these services take the shape of a fixed broadband connection. Not a conventional cellular wireless service like 4G. That means Verizon 5G isn’t mobile, but a fixed service connected to your home. While outside and about, you won’t have access to 5G speeds. But within your home, you can expect speeds starting at 300 Mbps. In some markets, Verizon 5G can even achieve Cox Gigablast fiber-level speeds of 940 Mbps.
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Challenges to Broader 5G Coverage
5G is certainly evolving very quickly. But when it comes down to brass tacks, the technology is still mostly in its infancy. As with any new technology, there are several initial challenges that it needs to overcome to achieve a coast-to-coast rollout. Some of the key challenges to 5G rollouts include the following:
Massive Infrastructure Upgrades Needed
Many current technologies like 4G and older ones like 3G make use of a lower frequency network. To ensure flawless performance, 5G operates on a much higher frequency. Of course, higher frequency means that information doesn’t travel as far and is prone to disruption. To counter this problem, providers are building more base stations near consumers. But the extent of the infrastructure upgrades could mean it takes some time before 5G becomes as accessible as 4G.
High Costs of Technology
Of course, all that infrastructural development isn’t going to be cheap. Providers are investing heavily in upgrading, expanding, and maintaining their 5G infrastructure. This drives up the cost of delivering the service, which is ultimately passed on to the consumer. So while 5G is certainly a promising technology, in its early days it could be cost-prohibitive. People who are very careful with their cox internet bill pay expenses will most likely stick to cheaper alternatives.
Rolling Out Expansions Will Take Time
Upgrading and expanding wireless infrastructure is not a quick job. Providers have to evaluate costs, decide which markets will be best served by 5G, and build the necessary infrastructure to deliver the service. All of this will take time, and that is one of the biggest challenges that 5G faces in its infancy. That’s not to mention that it will take time for the technology to penetrate the American market. Most people will take time to consider reliable mobile 5G as a better alternative to Cox internet support. Most likely, the technology will really start making its presence felt by 2021. Until then let’s hope it gets to your area soon.