How 5G Will Connect America

5G Networks

As smartphones evolve generation after generation, one thing has become clear: speed is king. With the initiation of a limited deployment in 2019, 5G connection speeds are now poised to sweep the country in 2020 and could have massive impacts on how people use their mobile devices in the future. Cellular companies claim that 5G networks are capable of speeds in excess of 100 times the current standard of 4G and could cut down latency times to as low as 0.001 of a second (yes, one millisecond). But what do these high speeds and low latency times actually mean in the hands of Americans across the country? Join us as we dig into this new wave of hyperconnective technology and examine some of the possibilities that could emerge. 

Preparing the Way

5G is the ‘fifth generation’ of wireless technology for cellular networks, and is such a large step up over the previous generation that it requires a retrofitting and overhaul of the existing tower network. As of 2019, there were about 350,000 towers across America. Current plans are on track to expand that number up to 1 million over the next three years, which gives an indication of just how much work is left to be done.

Next Generation of High-Speed Connections

Mobile network operators might also have to reconsider their data plans and pricing as lightning-fast download speeds will enable users to blow through their data caps in the blink of an eye. With companies touting speeds up to 10 gigabits per second, it would be possible to download the entire three-hour Avengers: Endgame movie in ultra high definition in about 5 seconds. For comparison, that would take a little over 9 minutes on the current 4G network. Extremely convenient and yet also an easy way to eat through an entire data plan in moments without realizing it. 

Having such a fast connection consistently available with low latency also opens up many new possibilities for augmented reality and virtual reality technologies. The speed and latency times offered by a 5G connection would remove any awkward delays when interacting with objects or other people for a seamless and smooth virtual experience. Lag-free connections could also allow someone to put on a headset and fly a drone or drive a car that actually exists somewhere else in real life. In fact, Ericsson has displayed such a technology at the annual Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain. Attendees were able to drive a car that was located over 60 miles away via a 5G connection.

Being able to interact with and control objects across a stable and high-speed network also lends itself to many medical applications. For example, highly specialized surgeons could perform operations remotely via a robotic surrogate without the need for the patient or practitioner to travel. This could not only save lives by eliminating travel times in emergency circumstances but also cut down on expenditures and reduce expenses.

How 5G Will Benefit American Cities

It is clear that the sweeping upgrades to cellular networks will increase speeds and decrease latency across the board, allowing for faster browsing and smoother interactions with data downloading or uploading. But 5G is capable of doing so much more than just browsing the internet faster or downloading a movie quickly. It has the potential to totally revolutionize how phones and other devices connect to each other and seamlessly share data. The proliferation of IoT devices and 5G networks can open the floodgates for the first generation of truly smart cities. 

One of the major hurdles of implementing wide-scale smart city technology has been managing the sheer speed and bandwidth required to process the incredible amount of data generated by the various IoT devices. 5G has the potential to handle this data and process it in real-time, benefitting everything from public city transit to law enforcement. Imagine a 5G-connected ambulance that can automatically interact with streetlights and communicate with hospitals about a patient’s status en route. Strategically installed sensors already exist in certain areas of Los Angeles that are capable of generating detailed, real-time, location-based reports anytime a gunshot is fired in the vicinity. Since the system automatically and instantly notifies local law enforcement officers, they are able to respond quickly. This has reduced gun crimes by as much as 50% in these areas.

Maximizing Efficiency, Minimizing Waste

While 5G clearly has the potential to make public spaces safer, it also stands to vastly improve the efficiency of cities across the country. When all aspects of a city are continuously generating and sharing data in real-time, things will operate more smoothly across the board. From automobile and pedestrian congestion to energy, water, and resource management and consumption. All of these working in tandem will not only conserve resources but will save cities significant amounts of money. Once the city itself begins to save money, those extra resources could then be turned around and reinvested back into amenities and the infrastructure. Or those savings could be passed onto the inhabitants; making the city a cheaper place to live which will attract new residents and stimulate growth.

Regardless of how long the potential rollout time for a fully fleshed out 5G network could be, its implications are wide-reaching and profound. A 5G network is capable of doing so much more than simply providing a robust data connection; it is able to improve the way cities function at the most basic levels. By collecting and sharing vast amounts of data in real-time cities will be able to respond dynamically to the needs of its people. To that end, the daily lives of people across the country will benefit immensely from this technology as it reduces stress, minimizes daily commutes, and helps ensure their safety and security.

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At Lithios we value outside opinions. This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers.

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