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A Glimpse into the Past and Future of Connectivity

Mark Bauer 08/12/2020

Technology always seems to be stuck in a bit of an ironic conundrum. The smallest delay on a YouTube video will drive people crazy, but they forget to compare it to download speeds a mere 5-10 years ago. Take our previous mobile generation for example. The most recent iteration of 3G mobile connectivity was reaching download speeds of ~8Mbit/s on average. 4G connections (the current connectivity in your phone presently) reaches ~50-60 Mbps on average. That takes downloading an average song down from 10 seconds to 3 seconds and accessing a web page from 4 seconds to just half of a second.

Pretty fast for just one generation, yeah? Well, although we don’t have a fully articulate view of reasonable download speeds for 5G just yet, current tests all point to one thing: 5G is insanely fast…

A third party ran some tests and found a 5G download speed of approximately 494 Mb/s over the 4G average of 53 Mbit/s. Now that’s fast, but 5G purports speeds much faster than that of around 1 Gbps with future speeds potentially being capable of up to 10 Gbps

So, what exactly is 5g and how did we get here?

5g is the fifth generation of mobile connectivity that’s being implemented to take over for the incumbent 4G LTE. Each generation has seen great leaps in mobile connectivity, starting with generation zero:                                                                                                                                                                                                               

  • 0g – Known as the “pre-cellular” era that included mobile radio telephone technology. These were often mobile telephones in cars and trucks using a transceiver Think anything used to communicate before true cell phone connectivity.

  • 1G – The true first generation of wireless cellular. Introduced back in the 1980s based on analog connectivity, with Japan being the first city to have a full, nationwide network.

  • 2G – The second generation of connectivity brought in data services and a more efficient digital signaling rather than the analog connection of 1G. With mobile data services, users were then able to use new mobile staples such as SMS texting, albeit with relatively slow connections. 2G saw two different iterations of itself as 2.5G and 2.75G with 2.75G bringing EDGE technology that increased data transmission.

  • 3G – Large increase in telecommunication efficiency and speed of several Mbit/s that enabled new features such as video calling and reliable internet access. Similar to 2G, 3G also had several iterations with 3.5G and 3.75G that furthered speeds and connectivity.

  • 4G – Our current generation. Even faster speeds and connectivity, however, this generation pulls in a bit of confusion with the “LTE” inclusion. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, and is basically a placeholder for “true” 4G. When 4G was released, the speeds weren’t up to the actual standards that needed to be met on a global scale, so 4G was released as 4G LTE; an evolving generation. Although 4G LTE is a huge step up from 3G, it’s not nearly as fast as a true 4G connection.

Enter 5G

As seen above, each generation brings along more connectivity features, however, 5G’s potential features are a little more impressive than anything brought in previous generations. The true power of the next generation lies not only in the massively increased speeds, but the new capabilities that those speeds enable such as smart cities, internet of things devices and endless entertainment options.

What if a city’s traffic infrastructure and cars on the road were all interconnected today? What if they were all connected via a 5G connection that’s dozens of times faster? With nearly no latency and blazing fast speeds, we can expect improvements such as more efficient traffic flow, improved law enforcement response that keeps everyone connected and safe.

Video games would have vast new worlds to partake in as well with the increased up and download speeds along with low latency. Massive amounts of data could be downloaded in seconds not only to native video gaming consoles, but to augmented reality headsets that keep you fully immersed in the gaming experience.

The list of applications goes on to basically anything that needs an internet connection, which is basically everything in today’s world, including industries such as construction, healthcare, education, manufacturing, and retail. According to an independent study commissioned by Qualcomm, these applications will power the digital economy by over $13.2 trillion dollars by 2035.

In short, 5G’s upcoming abilities have the potential to completely change the way the world lives, works and plays forever instantaneous access to almost everything. Efficient would be an understatement to what’s coming and with that we remain excited about what tomorrow has in store for our data center solutions.





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