What's With All The Gs?
Certification Magazine|July 2020
5G is what you think (faster, more powerful) and not what you've heard (a vector for infectious deseases)
AARON AXLINE

During a recent conversation with a non-techie friend, I was asked about the impending rollout of 5G cellular networks. Specifically, my friend wanted to know what the big difference was compared to the established 4G standard. I answered their question in a serious tone: Well, it's one G better, isn't it?

While this answer was not particularly helpful to my friend, it does reflect the current level of confusion, misinformation, and downright kookiness surrounding the upcoming 5G revolution. Let's take a closer look at what this new wireless technology is, what it isn't, and how it will likely impact the wireless world.

What is 5G?

As its name suggests, 5G is the fifth generation of cellular networking technology. After existing wholly in the research and development stage over much of the last decade, 5G has finally begun trickling down to the consumer level.

5G cellular networks will offer faster data speeds than current 4G networks — up to 10 times faster, according to most expert opinions based on real-world testing. 5G will also have higher bandwidth capacity, allowing many more devices to be simultaneously connected to a network without bringing it to its knees.

5G also offers lower latency rates than 4G (down to one millisecond in some cases, comparable to many wired broadband connections), which further speeds up the communication between 5G-enabled devices. This feature will become rather important in the near future, for reasons that we’ll get to a little bit later on.

The trade-off for this greater speed is that the operating range of a 5G network (which uses higher frequencies than previous cellular standards) is shorter than the range of existing 4G networks. You may be familiar with this phenomenon if you own a dual-band wireless router.

While the higher frequency 5 GHz band offered by such a router typically provides faster data transfers, the lower-frequency 2.4 GHz band offers greater connectivity range than the 5 GHz band. The dual-band functionality offers flexibility, but each band also comes with limitations.

The reduced range of 5G will complicate the rollout of new cell networks. 5G networks will need more cell towers, spaced closer together, than existing 4G networks. From an infrastructure perspective, the material and labor costs required for 5G installations will likely be reflected in the pricing of new contracts.

No matter how fast 5G is, consumer adoption will likely be slow until the available inventory of 5G-enabled devices grows to a decent size. As of this writing, there isn't a wide selection of devices capable of taking advantage of 5G networks, and the devices which can handle 5G are fairly expensive. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is arguably the current flagship 5G network phone. The OnePlus 8 and Motorola Edge Plus phones are also well-reviewed 5G candidates. Apple's next iPhone release, likely to be called iPhone 12, won't take place until later this year.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM CERTIFICATION MAGAZINEView All

Wanted: Your Cloud Computing Skills

Employers need cloud computing expertise, but demand is outstripping supply

6 mins read
Certification Magazine
October 2020

The Job Before Your First Job

An IT internship can be your strong first step toward a rewarding professional career

10 mins read
Certification Magazine
October 2020

Professionalizing the CLOUD

A conversation with the exam architect behind the hottest certification in cloud security

7 mins read
Certification Magazine
October 2020

SETTING HIS SIGHTS ON SUCCESS

Ohio IT student has mastered computer repair, cybersecurity, and certification

10 mins read
Certification Magazine
October 2020

The Typist Who Became a Technologist

Long time Utah IT educator got her first exposure to computers in high school

10+ mins read
Certification Magazine
October 2020

Pick a Cloud, Any Cloud

Which cloud computing models best support business aims — and which ones should you learn?

7 mins read
Certification Magazine
October 2020

Here, There, and Everywhere

Distributed cloud computing is bringing the cloud closer to all of us

7 mins read
Certification Magazine
October 2020

Master of Efficiency

A skilled operations analyst fine tunes processes to help organizations flourish

6 mins read
Certification Magazine
October 2020

Learn Smarter, Not Harder

Everyone is doing online learning now — but that doesn’t mean they’re doing it right

10 mins read
Certification Magazine
October 2020

From Horizon to Horizon

No matter where you look, cloud technology is blanketing the IT industry

9 mins read
Certification Magazine
October 2020
RELATED STORIES

Linksys MR9600

A versatile and impressive dual–band Wi–Fi 6 router

3 mins read
Mac Life
May 2021

Asus ZenWiFi AC (CT8): Reliable Home Network Protection

These days, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) mesh systems have taken a backseat to those that use the latest Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) technology.

6 mins read
PC Magazine
April 2021

SEEDS of CHANGE

Nuts may get all the glory, but seeds have plenty of healthy and culinary benefits too. Here are the ones to sprinkle into your diet more often as proof that great things come in small packages.

7 mins read
Better Nutrition
March 2021

How to Set Up and Optimize Your Wireless Router

Although manufacturers have been making installation utilities easier to use, getting the best out of your new wireless router usually means delving a little deeper than the standard installation routine will go. Just because you’ve plugged everything in and all the blinking lights have turned green doesn’t mean your network’s performance or its security are as strong as they could be. Follow these basic steps to properly configure your router and optimize your wireless network.

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
March 2021

How to Troubleshoot Your Internet Connection

Do you have a full house of social distancers working, gaming, streaming, and news binging, all at the same time? Before you schedule a service call with your cable company, check out our tips for troubleshooting your internet connection.

7 mins read
PC Magazine
March 2021

What Is Wi-FI 6E?

If you’re in the market for a new router or any device that uses Wi-Fi, you should first understand the new Wi-Fi 6E standard and what it means for the future of wireless networks at home and in offices around the US. The Wi-Fi Alliance, a group of Wi-Fi platform vendors that work with the FCC and electronics manufacturers to set standards for Wi-Fi technology, announced the Wi-Fi 6E designation in 2020 for any IEEE 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) products that support 6GHz wireless spectrum. Essentially, this means Wi-Fi 6E enables faster speeds and lower latencies than Wi-Fi 6 and earlier iterations.

5 mins read
PC Magazine
March 2021

Must-Know Facts About Nutritional Yeast

This vegan-friendly and B vitamin-packed ingredient adds a cheesy flavor to everything, from popcorn to potatoes.

5 mins read
Better Nutrition
February 2021

What Is C-Band, and What Does It Mean for the Future of 5G?

What's New Now / 5G

6 mins read
PC Magazine
February 2021

FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS

Mods to remaster the Mojave in 2021.

8 mins read
PC Gamer US Edition
February 2021

Brydge Stone Pro Thunderbolt 3 Hub

A rock–solid way to connect and power high–end devices

2 mins read
Mac Life
January 2021