With the continued rollout of 5G infrastructure nationwide and broader availability of compatible mobile devices, many people will experience 5G wireless connectivity for the first time in 2021.
5G, which has already rolled out in many cities in the U.S. and around the world, is poised to pave the way for a new era of connectivity with a wide range of exciting new uses.
The first generation of wireless cellular technology (1G) was introduced back in 1979 and utilized the 800MHz spectrum. 1G arrived in the United States four years later, with cellular towers coming down from mountaintops to our streets.
The second generation (2G) was introduced in 1991, adding the 1.9GHz spectrum. 2G introduced text messages and the capacity to share images and videos (MMS).
Then 3G came along and made things interesting by adding the 2.1GHz spectrum and also added an advanced technology that allowed for a much higher bandwidth. This technology, known as multiple input multiple output (MIMO), added additional antennae to cellular equipment, permitting an increased level of capacity for devices and bandwidth. Theoretically, 3G could achieve speeds just above 40Mbps.
Just 12 years ago, 4G was deployed commercially and primarily used 700MHz and 5.2GHz frequencies. There was a significant increase in speed over 3G, offering up to 400Mbps. Also important, this major bump in speed provided dramatically greater capabilities to mobile devices.
Now there’s 5G (with 6G planned to appear around 2030). 5G operates within the 600MHz, 2.5GHz, 28GHz and 39GHz spectra. Theoretically, 5G speeds can reach 20Gbps. While it’s not at this range yet, real-world deployments have achieved 2Gbps in commercial network speed on mobile broadband — a substantial achievement.
5G is basically a different architecture from 4G and all previous generations. It uses small cell towers that require less power to operate.
With speeds as high as 4Gbps, the opportunities for applying 5G technology will expand to applications such as remote vital sign monitoring, automobiles, city infrastructure, telemedicine and even remote surgeries.
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