Is Blazing Fast 5G in Your Future?

Category: Mobile

The fifth generation of cellular networking technology is imminent. This new 5G tech will explode several logjams in the river of cellular data traffic, enabling more than just faster mobile download speeds. Let’s take a look at 5G’s capabilities and their implications for all of us...

Is 5G Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?

5G is imminent, but exactly when and where will it arrive? AT&T will unveil its first 5G “neighborhoods” this summer in Dallas, Atlanta and Waco; Verizon will sell 5G for homes this year; and T-mobile and Sprint will have 5G phones early next year.

5G will come with much faster data transmission speeds; greatly reduced latency (the time data packets spend stuck inside a piece of network hardware); and the ability to connect a lot more devices to a single access point.

5G speeds could reach 1 Gbps, but only at the cost of very limited range. The tradeoff will result in a nationwide network that’s blazing fast in densely populated urban areas and slower but still faster than 4G in rural areas. The major carriers are expecting speed gains of at least “tens of megabits per second” everywhere, according to trade show reports.

5G Networking Is Coming This Year

5G access point hardware is incredibly small; instead of obtrusive cell towers the landscape will be dotted with discreet backpack-sized radios tacked onto existing utility poles, walls, and other vantage points. Each of these nodes will connect to the Internet backbone and broadcast wireless connectivity a few hundred feet or a few miles, depending on the radio frequency band on which it operates. The further a node’s signal reaches, the slower its speed.

Ultra-fast, short-range cells will be packed more densely into areas where many devices need to connect. Each cell will be able to handle orders of magnitude more devices. That vastly increased capacity will be needed as everything from your car to your smart necktie requires an Internet connection.

Latency is the bane of autonomous vehicles. Think of latency as “reaction time” and you will immediately understand why; longer latency means delays in inter-vehicle communications that could result in crashes. Where today’s network latency is measured in handfuls of milliseconds, 5G latency will be a fraction of one millisecond. Traffic control systems that rely on smart cars communicating instantly with each other become feasible. Gamers will rejoice in the responsiveness of their avatars and weapons. Virtual reality experiences will seem more realistic. The opportunities provided by sub-millisecond latency alone make 5G exciting!

As more cellular nodes are packed into a given area, each node will also become capable of serving hundreds of devices at once. The result will be enough connectivity to serve the exploding Internet of Things in which even merchandise price tags need an Internet connection.

Not All 5Gs are Created Equal

The major carriers all have different “go to market” strategies for their 5G tech.

AT&T is rushing to be “first to market” with a 5G network, and sowing confusion in its pursuit of that distinction. The company has branded its improved version of 4G tech as “5G Evolution,” fostering the false impression that it’s real 5G. Don’t be fooled. AT&T is currently upgrading cell towers in 117 cities with 5G Evolution technology. They claim is twice as fast at the current 4G LTE speeds, but it's still an intermediate step towards actual 5G service.

Verizon’s first 5G products and service plans will target the home, not the mobile user. 5G’s vastly greater connectivity capacity makes it economical to offer 5G home service. The 4G network can’t support enough home customers’ 190 GB average monthly data consumption to bring the price of the highest speed possible down to “reasonable.” But 5G can; if enough homes sign up, we might even see some price reductions. Wireless 5G will also make competition possible in the 49 percent of American households that currently have only one choice for broadband Internet. Newcomers will not have to dig up every street to lay cables; 5G access points every few blocks will suffice.

T-mobile is building a nationwide 5G cellular network of mixed speed capacities. The universal network will be in the 600 MHz radio frequency band, so it will not be the fastest that 5G can offer. But in densely populated areas that low-band network will be supplemented by blazing fast, high-capacity millimeter wave networks. Even where data transmission speed is not the fastest, the greatly reduced latency of 5G will make T-mobile’s network more responsive than current tech, so it will seem much faster.

Sprint’s 5G network will be on the 2.5 GHz band, the same wavelength used by its 4G network. In fact, Sprint’s 5G will use the same towers as its 4G. Sprint also plans to offer 5G smartphones in early 2019.

5G tech represents a quantum leap in wireless data communications. Of course, it will also mean you are going to need a new 5G phone when the 4G networks start shutting down, or sooner if you want to take advantage of faster speeds when 5G comes to your town. But you traded in your buggywhip for rubber tires, didn’t you?

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Is Blazing Fast 5G in Your Future?"

Posted by:

Steve B.
09 May 2018

Hi Bob,

Here's a good topic for next week: 5G health effects. Don't bother reprinting what the phone companies have to say on the topic. The human body wasn't designed to safely absorb all the electrical pollution we're unwittingly subjecting it to.

Posted by:

09 May 2018

Hello Bob,
I excitedly rushed to read your article on 5G after being linked to it in your newsletter. With so much controversy already out here on the topic of the biological health effects, and the potential for abuse of this technology by those in control of it, I was anxious to see where you weigh in on that. I was disappointed to see no mention of that aspect and look forward to your future coverage and assessment of it.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't think any scientific studies have shown a definite link between cell phones and cancer. See this from Cancer.Gov --

Posted by:

09 May 2018

"...if enough homes sign up, we might even see some price reductions."
That's the laugh of the day.
Informative article though.

Posted by:

09 May 2018

Maybe the cost of LTE phones will come down when 5G comes out. LTE is plenty fast for my phone. 5G sounds more like broad band speeds which is good for home internet. And 5G will be throttled back anyway with net neutrality coming to an end.

Posted by:

09 May 2018

*I* would take anything AT&T says with several grains of salt. When they took away my REAL Landline, and forced me into a VOIP line - I was a tad more than furious when a third or fourth level Engineer told me that 'Northern California has never been ready for Uverse, we calculated that point to be 5 years in the future.' - about 4 years ago or so.

Enter proof. The racks of our local exchange were not large enough to fit the new servers on. So AT&T had people waiting at home while they set up the new system. No call saying it would be a 'Month or two from now." -- how many people lost a days wages to wait for them to not show up. - perhaps a simple ring-down phone call to the customers would save them a days wages, and it is my bet that any group of three programmers could have written a program in less than three hours that would let those who called in sick or took a personal day or simply lost a days wages - that their appointment would be canceled, and to call for a new one a day or two ahead of time when it became apparent that the 'new' Uverse service was not ready for deployment.

It took AT&T about a month to bring the local center up to spec's for the new servers -- and they did such a poor job I had to have techs out from once to four times a week to fix my connection. (The copper lines down our road were laid in 1953). But the real problem was only 114 feet from the exchange - a bad cable splice which took so long to replace, that the Techs left me their cards and said "PLEASE call us, if you call AT&T too much they'll shut you down or schedule you out several months".

So if AT&T is laying 5G in areas of cities, I sure hope that they are ready for it. Remember that Here they had to add room and cooling to the sub-station to accommodate the new equipment and the racks that they occupy dispite the fact that engineers told them NoCal would not be ready for Uverse 5 more years. I sure hope they listen to their engineers on this one. I suspect that most Engineers have MBA's as managers, so there is a basic breakdown in communications.

And, Lastly, for @JOHN - read GuitarRebel (above you) - It well may be your LAUGH OF THE DAY. And, just Sometimes, laughter is the ONLY medicine that will take away those ol' AT&T Blues . . . .

Posted by:

09 May 2018

Great article, Bob, thanks.

Posted by:

10 May 2018


We cannot even get 1G here!!!!!

Posted by:

10 May 2018

My question is with my discount company, Ting. They piggyback on Sprint's network so I wonder whether we will be included in the 5G or not.

Posted by:

13 May 2018

This is pretty much new info for me... Having been using google fiber with mixed results in my opinion, I welcome the idea of 5G service. Since I use t-mobile cell service, i might just wait to upgrade my phone awhile in favor of better tech... Assuming it doesnt take forever to implement...
Thanks for an informative article, Bob. I also appreciate the feedback readers give back. It sometimes really adds to the article. Thanks guys!

Posted by:

14 May 2018

5G? (yawn) Who gives a rip? How about we get the HIGH speed and LOW costs that most of the rest of the world has had forever? And decent coverage as a bonus!

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