Although cell phones represent an unprecedented advancement in technology, the most common complaints associated with these tiny technological wonders are that of speed. “My phone is so slow.” “OMG, I hate my phone it’s wicked slow.” Everyone has heard some kind of comment to that effect. The reality is that phones are faster than they have ever been before, but they still aren’t fast enough—enter 5G.
Historically, new generations of mobile-phone technology emerge every decade or so. The first mobile-network (1G) premiered in 1981. This was followed by 2G in 1992, 3G in 2001 and 4G in 2009. Meaning, it’s about time for a major overhaul of mobile-phone technology and 5G is certainly looking to be the answer.
The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has yet to sign off on a 5G reference design that satisfies all the members of the industry group for mobile phones, according to The Economist. However, that has not stopped cell phone manufacturers from testing 5G capable modems and chip-sets! Conservative estimates say that we’ll be seeing 5G in the wild as early as 2018.
The excitement for 5G is at an all-time high, but will likely resemble the launch of 4G—meaning it won’t live up to the hype at first. While it will be a massive step forward, the fabled 10 gigabytes a second likely won’t exist in the first generation of 5G capable devices. Much like 4G, which even now has not been able to hit the gigabyte per second speeds that were promised prior to its 2009 launch, 5G will likely launch with speeds around a gigabyte per second and slowly work its way up to its full potential of 10-15 gigabytes per second.
If it does live up to the expectations 5G will change how wireless internet is viewed. With speeds that may actually rival wired connections of today, 5G would open up a new world of possibilities. Imagine a surgeon performing a robotically-assisted surgery across the world because the latency is so low, or instantaneous language translators. The possibilities of 5G speeds are endless, but there are still a number of hurdles to clear before the technology is available to the mainstream public. For now, all we can do is wait and hop on that hype train.