This is my continuing series on emerging technology trends and libraries. This week’s trend focuses on 5G networks.
5G. It’s short for 5th Generation, and is the newest mobile, cellular network. And it’s apparently going to be here really soon. In fact, in a few communities, it’s being rolled out now.
That’s awesome … but how will 5G affect me?
5G improves on older 4G (LTE) networks in at least 3 ways:
- Speed. 5G is FAST. We’ll get speeds anywhere from 50Mbps at a minimum to upwards of 1-10Gbps or more. Translation: a 1gb network for your phone. Wow.
- Latency. The latency target for 5G is 1 millisecond. 4G is currently around 20 milliseconds or so. Here’s how CNET describes latency: “Latency is the time it takes to get a response to information sent — for example, the lag between the moment you try to shoot a space invader and the moment the internet server hosting the game tells your app whether you succeeded.” So … lower is better!
- Greater capacity to connect devices. 5G antennas can support a lot more devices than the current 4G antennas. This helps to cut down on lag time you might experience, especially in a busy urban area.
So – better speed, better latency, and better connectivity. What should we expect to see in the next 5 years because of 5G?
Things like this:
- More phone companies getting in the home internet business. Why get cable or DSL internet when you can go 5G in your home? Verizon 5G Home is already working on this. They are launching in October in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. They are offering a pretty good deal, too: speeds over 300Mbps, no caps, throttles, or deprioritization, for about $50 a month for Verizon customers.
- Internet of Things (IoT) devices will become much more prolific in the home. Think about your own home for a sec. You might have a couple of computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs, gaming consoles, thermostats, smart lights, smart speakers, etc … all of which need to be connected to your router to work. And all of which suck up bandwidth. 5G will make that easier.
- Smart cities will continue to appear, as they can get stable connectivity to help monitor and control streetlights, traffic flow and congestion, irrigation systems, etc.
- Smart machines will take advantage of 5G. For example, smart cars will be able to interact with other cars (goal is to improve safety and better manage traffic). We also might start seeing remote controlled vehicles and machinery that take advantage of a robust 5G network.
- And of course, your phone. Better streaming capability, new apps and games that take advantage of the strengths of a 5G network.
What’s this mean for libraries? Just some thoughts:
- Mobile usage will continue to grow. Make sure your websites and web services work well on mobile devices.
- Smaller libraries that need better broadband/wifi might just make the move to a 5G setup.
- Smart Cities – Not really connected with 5G, but a good possibility. As cities start thinking about becoming “smart cities” and using newer technology (like 5G), it’s the perfect opportunity for the library step in and take a leadership role in planning your community’s future. That is, if you understand something about emerging technology trends and how they might be used locally.
It will be a few more years before 5G really takes off … and it will certainly be fun to watch!
Further reading on 5G: