An idiot's guide to 5G
by Jackie A
5 months ago
Let's get really basic here - what the heck does the G stand for?
Generation. As in 5th generation.
So back in the early 1990s (swoon) wireless phone technology started with 1G, which meant you could call each other wirelessly. Then came 2G and the revolution that was texting. After that came 3G, which allowed mobile phones to access the internet. Along came 4G which was the same as 3G but faster and allowed us to get Snapchat and Uber et al. Now here's 5G which is also the same but MUCH faster (about 10-20 times faster, some say 100) and allows tonnes more data.
So I can now get super fast connection on my iPhone? Exciting.
It's here, but not really. And definitely not available on that old iPhone 6 of yours. You need a special, new 5G phone and Apple aren't coming out with theirs until the second half of 2020. Samsung Galaxy's S10 5G is available now - yours for just $1,399. (Here's the full list of 5G compatible phones, most of which you've never heard of). Anyway 5G's only available in a handful of cities in the UK (launched by Stormzy from a barge in London last week) and according to Recode, in just two cities, Chicago and Minneapolis, in the US.
That 5G powered Stormzy concert looked like any old gig - what exactly does 5G offer?
Not a lot, ATM. (Although Stormzy was actually live-streamed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and was put through a VR widget so fans could watch him in 360 degrees.) However it has masses of potential. Soon 5G will enable drones to carry out a search and rescue operation if you ever get stuck up a mountain. Or allow you to be driven around in a driverless car. In the meantime, you'll wait seconds rather than minutes to download movies and get great reception at a festival, no matter how many people are on the mobile internet. And no delays when it comes to gaming. And lots of VR and AR. Like I said, not life-changing and only of any use if you live in a big city and are already cashed up. (Your mobile data plan will be insanely expensive).
You're not convincing me. Anyway isn't it dangerous?
But read this recent piece from the Chartered Institute for IT and you'd never go near a mobile phone again. Apparently in England the incidence of glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest brain tumour linked to mobile phone use, doubled between 1995 and 2015. More than 200 eminent scientists worldwide have expressed concerns that 5G, with all those radio waves, will have a devastating effect on the ecosystem and life on our planet. (You won't read that in the press as they're all desperate for the phone company's 5G adverts). BTW 5G needs many more phone antennas too - spaced every 10 to 12 houses in urban areas, which massively increases exposure to 5G radiation. Just saying.
Maybe it'll be worth it if 5G replaces the dreaded WiFI?
But it won't, not anytime soon. There's a lot of hype around 5G but the global WiFi market is ever growing and will be worth $33.6 billion by 2020. For home networks, WiFi, with all its flaws and frustrations, remains the most viable option for connecting us to the internet.
I hear there's a Trump-shaped problem with 5G too?
Yep, POTUS has picked a trade fight with China, banning telecoms giant Huawei - which is a massive cog in the 5G global wheel - from the US, over spying fears. The orange-haired one last week also threatened to limit intelligence sharing with whoever is in charge of Britain if it allows Huawei to build part of the UK's 5G mobile network. Trump's blackmailing bandwagon arrives in London tomorrow.
Don't remind me. So in truth we are years away from a globally connected, super fast 5G world.
Think 2022 and beyond before your fridge updates your Ocado shopping order or you can make a Google hangout call without sounding like you are down a black hole.
G5 promises so much but has yet to deliver.
NB: Not to be confused with the G7, G-Force, Ali G or the G spot.
We're not that idiotic.