5G is barely here: these are the innovations we’ve been waiting for

Sure, 5G networks are expanding, and we’re starting to get high-quality video, lag-free gaming, and even wireless home internet. But that’s just a scratch on what’s possible. The most notable ideas for 5G promise things like connected cars that warn each other in milliseconds to avoid accidents, or nifty augmented reality glasses that guide you through a smart city full of sensors and connections.

Unfortunately, most of those killer apps are still in the works. These developments will only be possible when 5G networks are built enough to deliver reliable and fast connections. We haven’t gotten there yet.

“It’s just a very different ball game in terms of reliable higher speeds and greater ability to serve more users simultaneously,” said Phil Solis, director of connectivity and smartphone semiconductor research at analysis firm IDC.

Herein lies the dilemma with 5G and what we will eventually be able to do with these high-capacity networks: Companies can continue to promise revolutionary leaps in different aspects of technology, using better wireless networks as the foundation. But until these networks actually improve significantly, many will remain just talk or limited-scale experiences.

The good news is that carriers are working. Although millimeter wave, or mmWave, provides the absolute highest speeds of 5G, it covers less area than other types of 5G, so it is only used in parts of some cities and event venues. Low-band 5G networks are rarely faster than current 4G LTE networks in the United States, although their farther range can reach suburban and rural users. Midband 5G is the ideal place, it not only provides faster speeds but also allows more people to access the network at the same time over large distances.

Most global networks are built largely on the 5G mid-band, but US carriers have a mix of all three. Midband 5G makes up most of T-Mobile’s 5G network, which operates on frequencies of 2.5 GHz, while Verizon and AT&T have been activating C-band and another mid-frequency 5G service over the course of this year.

Read more: 5G Aviation Industry Continuing Beef: Everything You Need to Know

With these advances in the network, along with incremental improvements from internet providers and cloud computing companies to bring servers closer to people, 5G could change the way we entertain ourselves, connect with others, and move around our world — at least as much as we can imagine. We probably won’t discover the best uses of 5G until high-speed networks provide fast, reliable service across cities, suburbs, and rural areas.

5G at home and on wheels

Driving on a road with tire awareness circuits and on-road data flow.

New car technology will use 5G networks to see upcoming traffic and accidents – and then use 5G to warn other cars in turn.

Hopper and Stark / Getty Images

Smartphones have been connected to 5G since 2019, and as networks improve, video streaming and gaming are getting better thanks to high-speed connections. Besides devices, 5G will expand connectivity in the home and on the roads.

Home internet over 5G reaches speeds comparable to wired broadband internet, and once 5G networks are established – again, carriers wait for 5G mid-band to extend coverage to more areas – it can be used in buildings that don’t. You have fast wired internet and rural areas that still handle dial-up or DSL.

Every US carrier has its own 5G home internet service, although AT&T only offers it in a few select regions. Verizon and T-Mobile are expanding to offer their own, but they still aren’t offering them everywhere where the fastest 5G connections are available. Compared to its mobile subscriber base, not many customers signed up for wireless internet — Verizon reportedly had about 433,000 fixed wireless subscribers in March and hopes to increase that to 4 million or 5 million by 2025, while T-Mobile has announced He had reached 1 million subscribers in April, and is aiming to reach 7 million by 2025.

Carriers still had an uphill battle educating customers about having 5G internet at home at all, so they were offering the service at discounted rates. For example, T-Mobile charges $50 per month for 5G home internet, which is discounted to $30 for eligible customers who have already signed up for Magenta Max mobile plans. Verizon’s offer starts at $50 per month, although customers with unlimited Verizon mobile plans can save 50% on their monthly internet bills.

Read more: I Tried 5G Home Internet From Verizon and T-Mobile To See If I Could Really Get Rid Of The Cable

5G is coming to the roads, too. Automobile 5G technology allows your car to connect to nearby 5G networks, essentially upgrading the car’s 4G LTE network capabilities to the network that enabled things like automatic fault detection and cloud services like maps, route directions, and traffic information.

5G networks could form the backbone of driverless travel. In Las Vegas during CES 2021The startup Halo has launched its own car service, which picks up passengers in electric cars that are controlled by remote drivers using the T-Mobile 5G network.

But it also means that regular cars will use 5G spectrum to talk to each other from hundreds of meters away using a technology called Sidelink to warn other cars about vehicles and pedestrians ahead.

“Maybe I hit the brakes and other cars will realize that, maybe react faster,” says IDC’s Solis. Sidelink’s inclusion in automotive chips has begun, so he expects the technology to approach mainstream adoption in 2024 or 2025.

The dream is for cars to talk to the streets around them in the same way, perhaps to warn of traffic or emergency vehicles nearby, and to recommend turning down the next street instead. It’s not hard to imagine the advantages of cars that get real-time updates of street and city conditions. But to do that, they need to connect neighborhoods and cities around them to a 5G network.

5G through your eyes

Screenshot of an Asian worm wearing Google's augmented reality glasses with translated text on top of it.

Google has plans for augmented reality glasses that translate language in real time. What else will AR change with 5G?

The Google

5G on the go will power something even more exciting: augmented reality. To get information about everything you look at through augmented reality glasses, you will need to increase the data speeds and reliable connections of the 5G network. With this connection, you can have an instant language translation of anything in your sight, as shown in the . file Augmented reality glasses concept It was revealed at Google I/O 2022. Or it can give you augmented reality elements clear visual directions On your way to the destination. Google revealed this week that it She started testing out her new glasses in public.

Qualcomm’s general manager for modem and cellular infrastructure, Durga Malady, told CNET that the complexities of connecting personal devices such as augmented reality glasses to large networks have largely been resolved. The big drawback is battery life: Although phones have large 4,000mAh and 5,000mAh batteries in their large rectangular shapes, there is much less room on eyeglass frames for larger battery packs, which may limit how long they can last. They stay connected to 5G networks.

“It’s really about being smart about the way you communicate,” Mladi said. “If all you care about is sending some brief notifications back and forth from your glasses, you don’t need gigabit speeds for that.”

We’ll almost certainly find out before one of the tech world’s most dangerous predictions comes true — famed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple is working to completely replace the iPhone with AR within a decade, according to a note seen by MacRumors.

5G supports healthcare and smart cities

Tokyo intersections with inconspicuous pedestrians, and above that, a network of data observations spreads across the city.

Hospitals and cities can use 5G to track accident hotspots and send information quickly and securely.

Getty Images

While 5G’s faster download speeds are important to customers, they are also important Less latency for 5G networks It will make advanced applications possible. Some of these, such as remote surgery, have been in the headlines for years, but reducing delays between surgeon and patient will ideally improve response and outcomes. Add in AR/VR, and surgeons can feel closer to being physically present in the room where the procedure is being performed.

“This type of application will only be possible due to this aspect of the low latency of 5G,” said Parv Sharma, senior hardware and ecosystem analyst at Counterpoint Research.

Telesurgery is just one aspect of telehealth, which is becoming more and more popular during the COVID pandemic as medical professionals find more ways to treat patients from afar. Devices like the Butterfly IQ ultrasound monitor send data via smartphones over mobile networks to healthcare providers, and are so portable that they were recently brought to the International Space Station.

5G could make things easier elsewhere in traditional healthcare, too. In March 2021, AT&T switched on a local 5G network at the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformational Medicine in Los Angeles to track patients and accelerate the secure transmission of data for cancer research. UK company Virgin Media O2 has turned on a private 5G network at London’s Bethlem Royal Hospital, allowing staff to monitor patients and update records faster and more securely than Wi-Fi, TechRadar reported. The Internet of Things or IoT, sensors and technology will monitor drug temperatures, air quality, and room occupancy.

But 5G has more hope in terms of where we live. Lining streets with sensors will warn those 5G-connected cars of traffic, while also monitoring environmental conditions to alert civilian workers about the risks.

These sensors will become cheaper with new, lower-capacity devices. RedCap devices have intentionally lowered connection speeds to reduce their power consumption, opening the door to long-lasting sensors and wearables that act as nodes in a connected ecosystem.

“5G is going to make a difference because it is already being built at a frenetic pace and with the capabilities in the network to create a chip for these types of services,” said Peter Linder, Ericsson’s Head of 5G Marketing in North America.

IDC’s Solis said the networks needed to support these citywide applications will come much later than mid-range 5G networks, especially after the proliferation of multi-access edge computing, which moves processing from remote server farms to physical locations on the edges of the network, which are closer to the population. and faster access.

The acquisition of 5G networks is only part of what will lead to a new era of connectivity. Without these speeds and reliability, we can’t yet imagine the best apps, because we’re still thinking about how we use phones with 4G LTE. Back in that era, it took some time for developers to think about how they could take advantage of the high mobile bandwidth of completely new apps.

Solis compares it to how we access data on the go, back in the 3G days, it was so limited that we couldn’t even imagine something like ride-hailing apps, yet these days Uber and Lyft are basically modern travel infrastructure.

“No one said, ‘Oh, we need a faster network so we can[support ride-hailing apps],” Solis said. It’s kind of like the ‘If you build it up, they’ll come’ mentality.

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