5G: How Close Are We?

Jan 22, 2019

If you’ve watched any TV commercials lately, you know that 5G networks are coming. In 2019, we’ll see multiple major carriers rolling out faster connection technology with the promise of reduced latency even if you’re streaming the latest movie in a public place! The faster speeds sound great, but how soon will 5G be available for everyone?

 

Yeah, we know. But how soon? (Source: Verizon.com)

The Good

5G is fast. Very, very fast. Thanks to a new range of radio frequencies, these connections will leave 4G in the dust. Providers are hyping the faster connection speeds with ultra-cool videos like this one from Verizon where kids with VR headsets are watching a basketball game as if they were courtside.

5G technology isn’t just about faster YouTube buffering and decreased call lag on your phone. Maybe we’ll watch Super Bowl LIV up close and personal at home wearing shiny new VR headsets! There are also major possibilities for humanitarian groups working around the world, and the medical field may see opportunities for remote diagnosis and surgery as well as predictive and reliable healthcare monitoring. The possibilities for 5G networks are seemingly endless, but we have to get there first.

The Bad

Our hardware isn’t ready for 5G networks yet. Most mobile device manufacturers will likely continue to offer 4G-only devices well in to 2020. Samsung has promised a couple of 5G devices in 2019, likely variations of the S10 Plus. Major carriers have announced support, but these devices are likely to be incredibly pricey ventures for what may be (temporarily) limited connectivity.

Cell towers will need manual upgrades which takes time. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon have begun to offer 5G service in a few major markets—with more promised in 2019. But if 5G service isn’t available in your area, what’s the point of paying extra for a device? Add in the potential for shorter battery life and dropped calls, thanks to signal issues brought on by the new range of frequencies used for 5G connections, and you’re better off waiting until all the kinks are worked out.

The Truth

You don’t need 5G yet. You’re getting along just fine with 4G. Upgrading to a 5G device in a non-metropolitan location is simply too expensive to justify. This is one of those times where it’s best to avoid bleeding edge technology. Let us geeks get our hands on it and suss out those pesky bugs. We’ll let you know when it’s broadly available and worth the investment!

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