5G may be described as the network of the future but there’s still a lot of work to be done before it really makes an impact. While 5G promises super-fast broadband connections up to a hundred times faster than 4G and the advanced cellular capability needed to enable something like autonomous vehicles, the much-anticipated rollout of 5G has had its fair share of hiccups. Building the infrastructure needed to enable 5G comes at a colossal cost, while safety and security remain a concern too. And in some regions, roll outs are being held back by politically motivated restrictions.
Despite this, progress is being made. According to reports from CCS Insight, there will be almost a quarter of a billion 5G connections worldwide by the end of 2020, with this figure set to triple in 2021. Global 5G connections are expected to reach 3.6 billion in 2025.
But when will 5G be accessible to you? We unpack below.
- 5G has already arrived, depending on where you live, but it’s still not fully evolved into the next major wireless Internet innovation, as promised by industry proponents.
- If you can get a 5G signal where you live, you’ll experience improved performance over 4G (LTE) networks – provided that you have a 5G-enabled phone – but the experience won’t be all that different from LTE at this point.
- Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on 5G rollouts. We explained these challenges here.
- At the start of 2020, only a few brands had released phones capable of working with evolving 5G networks. Over the course of the year, newer versions of these have been released. But these handsets are pricey and unlikely to experience significant price drops in the near future.
- 5G is coming to our phones first but it will enable so much more. For example, the lower latency enabled by 5G is set to make innovations like augmented reality and virtual reality more viable because there won’t be any lag. This could enable schools to bring concepts out of textbooks and into real life. It will also enable medical innovations like holograph-assisted surgeries.
- Connected PCs, IoT products and gaming consoles are on the horizon. These won’t be around in 2020 but we can expect to start seeing some new use cases emerging the near future.
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