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An Early Look at 5G Technology

While most mobile users are satisfied with the speed and connectivity of their 4G devices, those who want even greater performance are already looking forward to 5G. Although early iterations of the platform are available to developers, and a preview was shown off at the 2018 Winter Olympics, it's not expected to hit store shelves under 2020. Nonetheless, excitement is already building.

What is 5G?

Simply put, 5G is the fifth generation of broadband cellular connectivity. It's the successor to the current platform, 4G, which has remained in widespread use since 2010. Although 4G has performed well enough to accommodate most mainstream uses of mobile technology, the future will demand even more speeds, performance and reliability from next-gen hardware.

We're not just talking about the average smartphone here – although that will see some benefits from 5G, too. The biggest advantages of 5G will likely be experienced by smart-devices that connect to the Internet of Things – IoT – and other areas of industrial automation and advanced robotics.

Daniel Gleeson, a consumer technology analyst with Ovum, touched on this subject in a recent interview with Al Jazeera. He was quoted as saying: ''"It's going to be faster and more reliable internet speeds on your phone. But more than that, it's all about having very reliable and quick responding connections, and that's going to be very important for enabling new use cases for this technology."''

Strengthening the Mobile Workforce

5G technology will help companies transition to the mobile workforce, too. As this is a trend that's already occurring – with the 4G format – interest in mobile offices and working environments will certainly increase.

Recent estimates predict that mobile workers will comprise 1.87 billion people – or 42.5% of the entire global workforce – by the year 2022. This happens to coincide with the expected mainstream release of the 5G format, which could drive these numbers to even greater heights.

Weighing the Risks

But there are some risks involved with migrating workers to a mobile platform. For starters, there are still millions of people across the globe that lack reliable Internet access to begin with – never mind having the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the amounts of bandwidth needed for technology like 5G.

Although there are also privacy and security risks to consider, especially when using 5G to transfer data to or from remote storage servers, industry experts are already highlighting the enhanced security that 5G offers over 4G. Because of this, some believe it's better suited for use in the IoT and the next-gen smart factories of the future as opposed to consumer-level applications. But why do we have to limit it to one area or another? Thankfully, we don't.

Playing the Waiting Game

We currently don't know much about 5G, but the facts we do have are already making headlines throughout the industry. With projected speeds up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G has the potential to perform 1,000 times faster than current-gen 4G devices – although it will be limited by local infrastructure, service provider availability and the capabilities of each individual device.


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