Forefront of Technology: 5G

If 5G signals can effectively find a way to penetrate naturally occurring objects like rain and trees along with man made buildings and materials, it can unlock the fastest speeds of wireless connectivity we know of to date.

David Lin

Staff Writer

As technology is approaching the fifth generation of wireless connectivity, it is time to take a look back at past technologies that have led to such impressive technological strides. In the first generation of wireless connectivity, a set of analog communication standards are set into place in 1979 and continue to be popular until 2G was introduced in the 1980’s. 1G introduced the first set of “wireless” phone options that used a channel of communication that was more prone to interference from outside sources. This was dangerous because phone tapping was very easy and the static or “noise” in calls were present regardless of phone quality. The phones of the 1G generation that were brick shaped and served the purpose of calling only was soon replaced by the era of flip phones and early models of smartphones that had capabilities, most notably, texting. Texts were introduced through digital signals which made it easier to encrypt and send messages more accurately and quickly. This was especially important and even led to phones that had an actual keyboard under the phone itself. The shift from analog to digital signals was an important step in the scope of wireless information exchanging because of the encryption factor especially when people are actually sending out “written” messages rather than a muddied, obscure voice recording. 3G is when the divide between established messaging services divided because the emphasis was shifted more on internet streaming and speeds which played a big factor in 4G and 5G as well. With significantly higher bandwidth (rate at which data is downloaded or uploaded in a network), video streaming, texting speeds, and voice calls over the internet were improved along with services we take for granted today such as E-mailing and Web-Browsing. 4G, which came out in 2010 well after the initial period of 3G, which launched in 2001, continued to provide on the promise for faster connectivity. Speed was improved fundamentally and in cases of 4G LTE speeds can reach 10 times that of 3G which had bandwidth data rate (speed bits or data are transferred over time) of 2 Mbps (Megabytes per second) compared to 20 Mbps in 4G. This improvement made it possible to have a constant healthy connection that was able to serve all the tasks you could possibly want to accomplish including intensive actions like playing games which require high amount of bandwidth and reduced latency. If 4G has served such a wide audience and needs then why would there be a need for 5G and what is the next step forward in wireless technology? The push for a constant connection to the internet for connections reliable enough to challenge home network connections. Although it won’t quite reach the most reliable connection types of wired connections through ethernet connectivity, which can reach speeds of 100 GBs, the push for 5G speeds are projected to reach speeds of 10 GBps which is the equivalent of a smaller ethernet connection although 1 GBps may be more likely to occur in many areas. The main problem in implementing this type of connection into the real world includes countless amount of resources that are needed in maintaining the network. Through opening the channels to allow more connectivity, higher frequencies generally result in signals that cannot as easily travel through buildings and even simple natural occurrences like rain and wildlife. As the quest to provide higher connectivity and promote internet usage continues, we must ask ourselves how secure is our information with 5G on the verge of implementation in years as early as 2020.

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