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What's The Deal with 5G?

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

WHAT IS IT? 5G is the quick way to reference fifth-generation wireless. While many disagree about the minute specs and details of 5G, the network will be incredibly fast, have a multitude of applications, and improve responsiveness to avoid latencies.

HOW DOES IT WORK? 5G will operate in the millimeter-wave spectrum, which is capable of data transfers at obscenely fast rates. Unlike 4G, however, which can transmit data over a long distance, 5G will require a dense network of small antennas to support it. Small cell radios are about to become ubiquitous.

WHY DO WE NEED IT? Though our 4G LTE network is quite capable, with the growing number of smart devices, sensors, drones, and even autonomous vehicles, our next wireless network must vastly outperform our current standard. While 5G will speed up our Instagram uploads, help us stream Netflix faster, and decrease Fortnite latencies during online play, the vision for 5G is much bigger. The future is going to be full of self-driving cars, constantly-connected health sensors, and drones that deliver life-saving assistance to people in need; none of which can thrive on our current network.

WHO IS INVOLVED? Telecom giants like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have all launched major 5G campaigns. Similarly, electronics companies are gearing up with the tech necessary to support and run on this new wireless standard. Samsung, Intel, and Nokia are the most notable of these organizations. Samsung is working on a full spectrum of tech (from home routers to RF chipsets), and Intel seems mostly focused on processors (but has also been researching interoperability and working to help develop the standards for the new network). 5G will require large-scale small cell deployment to support the improved bandwidth and lightning-fast speeds. This requires large-scale utility pole surveys by OSP data collection companies, followed by make ready moves and small cell installation by construction companies. Pole owners (power and telephone companies) will also be involved to ensure safe conditions for their distribution system (the poles) as well as for those installing the new small cell radios.

WHEN IS IT COMING? Test cases have already been put in place, such as AT&T's DirectTV Now trial in Austin, Texas. T-Mobile and Verizon will both rollout fixed 5G networks later this year. Nationwide rollout is expected for 2020, so it is likely we will see 5G-supporting tech (read: 5G smartphones) by this time next year.

READ FURTHER: Here are some great articles to dig deeper into 5G and the promise its future brings:

At Katapult, we're excited for the future of 5G, and proud to contribute a pole survey solution that makes rapid surveys and deployment possible. We're also gunning for a one-touch make ready solution, especially because we know that it can save money for all invested parties without sacrificing safety or measurement accuracy. Here's to 5G and the advancements it will bring to the telecommunications industry!

P.S. If 5G is old news, here's an article you may enjoy.

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