Whether you follow the latest development in the world of tech or not, you have probably already heard about “5G”. It has been covered extensively in the media as both a monumental next step in wireless technology – the key to ushering in the next global industrial revolution – as well as a source of geopolitical tension, and a threat to personal freedom and our health. So what is this technology and what makes it so significant as to be described in these dramatic terms? Here is a basic primer on 5G. What it is, and what makes a source of both optimism and apprehension for the future.
Simply put, 5G is the moniker given to the next generation of existing and in-development wireless telecommunications technologies that meet certain industry defined standards for speed and performance. 5G networks have a potential speed and latency that is dramatically faster than current wi-fi and cellular technology. These new, hyper-fast and low-latency networks will allow entirely new kinds of applications and devices to be designed, allowing people, industries, and governments to utilize wireless connectivity in ways that will reshape our lives as dramatically as the invention of telephone.
Self-aware networks of driverless cars reacting instantly to changing road conditions, remote surgery conducted by a skilled doctor half a world away as if they were in the room, augmented and virtual reality interfaces streaming through your cellphone, a globally connected internet-of-things making all the world’s infrastructure smarter, or even an inescapable grid of surveillance allowing governments to track your every move through facial recognition. These are some of the promised, and feared, applications of 5G technology that are already coming to existence.
5G is an industry term that covers a somewhat loose assemblage of different technologies, patents and defined standards. In general, however, it can be understood as a network standard that will permit download speeds from 1 to 20 gigabits per second. Perhaps even more importantly than pure download speed, 5G also promises latency in the low 1-2 milliseconds. Latency – the time between sending data to a server and getting a response – is critical to the next generation applications that are expected to be built on 5G, such as self-driving car networks and remote controlled industrial or medical devices. In more down-to-earth terms, low latency is what makes it possible to play a fast paced multiplayer online game and feel as if you are experiencing events in real time along with your opponents thousands of miles away.
Much like the way cloud computing technology relies on existing high speed networks to allow users to interact with a far-away computer platform, low latency 5G opensup the same possibility to interact in real time with connected computers, devices, and people through the simple interface of a smartphone.
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Sean Kirby is the Help Desk Manager at Triella. We are a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium-sized firms. Sean can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to our blog page. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Webroot Reseller.
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