The 5G Factor
Business Traveler|March 2020
The next generation of telecommunications is coming to a hotel near you – and changing the stay as we know it
Michael Alpiner

In the beat-your-chest world of technology, the natural evolution from a 4G network to a 5G network is akin to The Terminator’s progression from cybernetic organism to a robot made of liquid metal. Sure, the shape-shifting killing machine has more bells and whistles, but the “old but not obsolete” model still manages to save the day.

So although 5G is the buzzword for the future of hospitality, most owners and operators are sticking with 4G until they can be sure that 5G technology can catch up to its expectations. For one thing, 5G is not yet available in all locations. Second, not all buildings are set up to accept this emerging technology. Third, there have been troublesome health concerns around the type of radiation emitted by the 5G dome.

All that said, what exactly is meant by 5G? Think of it as technology through the ages – or in this case, generations: 1G delivered analog voice. 2G introduced digital voice. 3G brought mobile data. 4G LTE revolutionized mobile network capabilities. The 5th Generation is aptly named 5G, able to connect devices to other devices practically in real-time.

The covered areas, called ‘cells,’ are serviced by individual antennas which every major telecommunication service provider is deploying. The frequency spectrum of 5G is divided into millimeter wavelengths of mid- and low-band, using a similar frequency range as 4G.

Thus, 5G can transmit data up to ten times faster than 4G, reaching speeds of over a gigabit of data per second. The wavelengths have a shorter range even than microwaves, and therefore the cells are limited to a smaller size. Each cell will have multiple antennas, albeit smaller antennas than with previous generations.

These will connect to similar antennas in the paired devices, thus forming a network of data on multiple bitstreams. However, these waves will have difficulty passing through walls and other solid obstructions.

As soon as the obstacles and glitches are ironed out, 5G is set to become the new norm in an increasingly tech-based and tech-reliant world. The possibilities are as boundless as the landscape of human ingenuity since 5G will be able to support a million devices per square kilometer.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF WELCOME

What does this mean for the hotel industry? Of course, even now hotels are already bustling hives of digital devices buzzing around in hopes of connectivity. Properties also faces stiff competition for market share, as travelers seek an immersive and unique experience, and are able to shop around for it.

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