5g: The Future of the Internet?

By Matt Zhang

Our society is dependent on technology and the internet. From watching the NBA Finals to working on a daily basis, we all depend on technology to help us maintain our daily routines. To maintain such a lifestyle, we are in increasing demand for faster, more secure connections to our devices. Enter 5G. 5G is the fifth generation of wireless network technology, and is expected to revolutionize our society. From long-distance surgeries to near-instant virtual reality interaction, 5G is predicted to be 10 times faster than LTE or 4G, our current fastest networks. However, these enormous benefits do not come without drawbacks. 

Although 5G is extremely fast, it also has a very large cost associated with it. The reason 5G is so fast is due to its frequency waves, which have much higher data transmission rates than our current network technology. However, this also means that they are less reliable over longer distances and can also be blocked easily, from walls to potentially even trees and rain. This can create data losses and large chunks of missing packets, which could be very problematic to the user. To be effective, thousands or even millions of 5G towers will have to be constructed through cities and suburbs, costing billions of dollars and potentially disrupting citizens’ lives, costing a lot of resources and time to build, not to mention the possible disturbances associated with construction. The time needed to implement such infrastructure would likely take years and mounds of funds, something which is feasible, yet still a very large hurdle that must be overcome. Some providers in the U.S. have already been developing 5G networks and devices, mostly as a test in larger cities. However, these have only been partially successful, with networks improving, yet not at the rate that most associate with 5G.

The usage of these networks is also a potential issue. Users of 5G have reported greatly decreased battery life, as the networks require large amounts of power to operate. The increase in power usage is mostly linked to the data processing speeds, which require a lot of energy to be able to load data so quickly. Some users say that their phones feel hot to the touch due to the massive power expenditure. In order for 5G to be implemented successfully, these burdens must be overcome, as this could be a large issue for consumers, and potentially even a health risk due to overheating parts (as has been the case in a few other phones). Further, users will also need to purchase new devices specifically built to handle 5G networks, as some companies have already been developing.

So is 5G worth it? Currently, the answers point to yes. Although there are drawbacks, they are definitely surmountable. 5G has the potential to revolutionize the internet and our society, and as we progress further and further online, new opportunities will emerge.