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There’s more to upcoming 5G technology than just speed

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Q: When will 5G be available?

A: The fifth generation of wireless transmission technology known as 5G is one of the more interesting developments on the technology landscape because it has wide-ranging implications.

It’s not just going to be a faster wireless technology; it’s likely to empower new uses of technology that most aren’t even aware of today.


How Fast is 5G?

A typical example used to demonstrate its potential uses is that a full-length high-definition movie can be downloaded in seconds rather than minutes.

While 5G is designed to be at least 4-5 times faster than 4G, there’s much more to the technology than just speed.

Lower latency — which will make it more responsive — along with greater capacity will allow more devices to connect to the same cell, which typically chokes down speeds on 4G cell sites.

With more of us installing smart devices in our homes along with the explosion of IoT (internet of things) devices, smart cities and driverless cars, having this additional capacity will allow this huge load of additional connected devices to be manageable.

Expect everything that you access via your smartphone to become more instantaneous as this technology rolls out.

When will we see 5G?

The original timeline set for the 5G standard was 2020, but various entities agreed to work on a set of intermediate standards so the technology could come to market in some form sooner.

AT&T is scheduled to roll it out in late 2018 in markets that include Atlanta; Dallas; Waco, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Oklahoma City.

Verizon is targeting Houston, Los Angeles, Indianapolis and Sacramento, California, for its initial rollout in 2018.

Will my phone work on 5G?

In order to take advantage of the faster speeds, you’ll need to use a device that has 5G capabilities built in, which currently don’t exist.

Both AT&T and Verizon plan to offer a small “puck” that will essentially be a 5G hotspot when they initially roll out the service because there are no 5G smartphones available yet.

We should see the first wave of 5G handsets available from companies such as Motorola and LG in early 2019, with all of them running the Android operating system.

Apple is notorious for waiting to implement newer technologies in the iPhone. With the significant additional costs in what is already an expensive device, don’t expect a 5G-capable iPhone in the near future.

Another reason Apple is likely to hold off is that none of the mobile networks will have 5G available across their entire system until at least 2020, with it being longer for true nationwide coverage for most.

Beware of faux 5G

Until the devices and network rollouts hit their stride in 2020, be careful not to allow marketing jargon to confuse you in your buying decisions.

For instance, AT&T launched something they call 5G Evolution, which is an enhanced 4G that will work in conjunction with true 5G down the road, but it isn’t 5G.

Motorola and Verizon announced the Moto Z3, ‘the first 5G smartphone’ this month, but the actual phone can only connect to 3G and 4G networks until they release a 5G add-on module that users will have to buy next year to make it truly 5G.

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