Mobile phones and the Internet are akin to today’s world of interconnected technology. We’re able to connect with friends on a plethora of social platforms, can shop online in an instant, and increase business productivity with millions of digital apps and resources. For many of us, we’re spending more time on our tablets and smartphones than our actual computers. And that’s because these devices are often more convenient – being faster, portable, and easier to use. Whether we’re being social, getting work done, or simply wasting time, mobile phones are becoming an essential component of our daily lives. I mean, how else would we set our morning alarm… On an alarm clock?! And the ceiling for these devices has not yet been reached. The adoption of the fifth generation of wireless communications technologies, or the 5G Network, is set to take mobile capabilities to the next level. 5G has introduced major advancements in data-carrying capacity and decreases in latency, and is expected to be up to 100 times faster than current 4G standards.
5G Network Explained
*Tech junkies beware, these specs are impressive*
5G Technology's Specific Requirements:
- Up to 100Gbps data rate - > 10 to 100x improvement over 4G and 4.5G networks
- 1-millisecond latency
- 1000x bandwidth per unit area
- Up to 100x number of connected devices per unit area (compared with 4G LTE)
- 99.999% availability
- 100% coverage
- 90% reduction in network energy usage
But before we get into exactly how 5G will shape the mobile phone landscape, let’s just take a few steps way back to when the first generation of mobile networks was introduced in Tokyo in 1979. The 1G network, as it became known to be, was the analog telecommunication standard that first introduced the possibilities of mobile telephone communication to the world. In use throughout the 1980s, the 1G network was intended for industrial, military and research applications. However, the network was also happily adopted by those who could afford the cost of its subscription and who were lucky enough to live in an area where the service was available.
2G technology replaced the 1G network in the early 1990s, introducing the benefits of digitally encrypted phone conversations and more efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum which enabled more users per frequency band. But most notably, the 2G network-enabled networks to provide services such as text messages and multimedia messages. For its time, the 2G network was a major upgrade that cultivated a mobile phone culture.
The excitement and enthusiasm for mobile technology continued to grow from the 90s into the 2000s when the 3G network was unveiled in 2001. Promised to be capable of transferring information and data at unforeseen rates, the 3G network was set to build the foundation for smartphone technologies.
With the 3G network, mobile users were able to stream video and browse the Internet at impressive speeds thanks to the network’s stable connection and its advanced data transfer rates. The increased bandwidth and transfer rates of 3G opened up the door for mobile app development, and users got their first real taste of mobile games and apps.
An Apple press release from June of 2008 introduces the iPhone 3G and boasts the device’s built-in GPS and the iPhone SDK which developers used to build hundreds of applications available at the product launch. The iPhone 3G took full advantage of the 3G network’s potential and users were hooked.
Once the potential of the 3G network was actualized, governments and corporations realized that the data transferred between mobile devices, networks, and the service providers would become a valuable source of consumer information and behavior. In today’s digital climate, the use of consumer data is undeniable and controversial.
The 4G network was music to the ears of not only the consumers, but also to the corporations and political entities that take advantage of mobile phone data. The 4G network works in much of the same ways as 3G but much faster. Using high-speed download and upload packets, 4G allows users to access broadband style speeds as though connected to a Wi-Fi network. In many cases, a mobile phone connected to 4G could load a web page faster than a computer.
With its high download and upload speeds, 4G turned mobile phones into mini-computers known as smartphones. Smartphones are now the primary source of entertainment for billions of people who stream music, watch movies and play games online all from one small device.
The use - or exploitation as many critics would suggest - of consumer data has made headlines throughout the years as a controversial and important topic of discussion. Hackers exploited the data of at least 50 million Facebook users, of which some data was collected from users using the Facebook mobile app.
Despite the security and legal risks, smartphone users around the world continue to bask in the convenience of high-speed connections that permit instantaneous communication and entertainment.
The excitement and speculation that surround smartphone technology were brought to a boiling point when the 5G network was introduced in late 2018. 5G’s advanced standards will undoubtedly empower smartphones to yield an even greater impression on our lives.
With 5G, the ways that we consume media will change drastically. Virtual and augmented reality software will be able to simulate life-like experiences, and human-like chatbots are set to become the new norm of customer service. How we play games, share photos, stream movies and watch sports is all set to change.
For mobile app developers will benefit from 5G’s speed, security, low battery consumption and its reliable and continuous communication between devices.
And with major cities experiencing slowdowns during busy times of the day due to low LTE capacity, the 5G network is becoming a necessity. Its improved broadband is capable of providing lightning speed connections for massive amounts of people.
With 5G likely coming to a city near you, how do you feel about the technology's potential? Have smartphones taken too much control over society? Is consumer data safe in the hands of corporations? Or will we experience an unprecedented sense of togetherness as fostered through mobile technology? The future is unsure… but it’s exciting!