Tech

5G: 4 reasons why it's about more than just high speed

The next generation of cellular connectivity is almost here.

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Lower latency

What it is: 5G is set to offer faster response times than its predecessor. In February 2018, Qualcomm demonstrated how latency dropped from 114 milliseconds on 4G to 4.9 milliseconds on 5G. Verizon suggests 5G should typically offer latencies less than 30 milliseconds.

Why you should care: Lower latency means 5G will work better for applications like video games, where response times are everything. It also means latency will be more in line with home connections, which the FCC suggests are between 12 to 37 milliseconds.

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Lower latency could enable all-new smartphone games, like a multiplayer zombie game that requires fast reactions. It could also enable players to connect to their home video games console via PlayStation Now or xCloud.

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More devices at once

What it is: 5G enables more devices to stay connected at once. Altran claimed in 2018 that the network could support one million devices per square kilometer, 10 times more than 4G.

Why you should care: Ever been to a concert and you've struggled to get online? 5G should help maintain a connection even in crowded places.

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More devices means more possibilities, like smart cities and tiny Internet of Things devices.

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Devices moving at faster physical speeds

What it is: 5G can hold a connection with a device moving at higher speeds. The International Telecommunications Union in 2017 noted that the system is designed for devices traveling at speeds of up to 310 miles per hour. 4G, meanwhile, is only designed for speeds up to 218 mph.

Why you should care: If you ever find yourself on the Shanghai maglev, or potentially a future hyperloop, you can expect to maintain a connection.

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More efficient resources

What it is: 5G could lead to better energy efficiency in some situations. For example, a 2018 IEEE paper found that network components could use 10 times less energy when there are no users, thanks to a new network design that enables components to go to sleep faster.

Why you should care: Less energy consumption would mean a more eco-friendly network.

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