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Hold on tight — 5G mobile Internet is coming

By Jean-Claude Elias - Mar 16,2017 - Last updated at Mar 16,2017

Are you happy with the Internet speed that your telephone operator provides you with over its network? Are you stuck with the sluggish 2G, or are you enjoying 3G or even the faster 4G?

Arguments will never end about speed and performance in technology. Whether it is the speed of hard disks, of processors or that of the Internet connection, the consumer never has enough of it, and the industry keeps pouring oil on the fire by making everything faster all the time.

Whether continuously increasing speed is actually needed or is relevant is another topic. Many will argue that it is good to have anyway, for you never know when you may really need it. I agree.

Enter 5G, the upcoming ultrafast Internet for your phone, tablet or even computer, for that matter. It is going to be the next big leap in mobile connectivity. For the emotive ones and the tech-heads, let us say from the onset that it is not yet available. It is not a distant dream either. First tests may take place as early as next year, and nowhere else than South Korea, the world champion in terms of extensive and high-performance Internet services.

Because it is all but still experimental at this stage, no precise data is available yet as to the actual speed of 5G, though tests indicate that it would be in a range comprised between 3 and 10Gbps (gigabits per second), according to China’s Huawei and South Korea’s Samsung. In layman’s term this is about 10 to 12-fold the speed of the current 4G network! An even more striking illustration: it will allow you to download an entire high-resolution full-length movie in just a few seconds.

Such speed actually will mainly improve and positively affect the streaming of high-definition multimedia contents, a segment of the Internet usage that is growing exponentially. Internet voice and video calls and conferencing also will strongly benefit from 5G. The whole YouTube, Vimeo or Deezer experience will have new meaning. But obviously, you don’t really need such speed to send a simple email, a Whatsapp text message, or to read the news online. 

5G already raises a few questions, even if it may take two to four more years to be practically available.

When you consider that 4G is not yet everywhere, that most of us are still on 3G, that once you have 5G the quantity of downloads and uploads is going to reach gigantic proportions, and last but not least the cost this may involve, you just stop and think. Not forgetting that no smartphone on the market today has 5G capability… well, perhaps except for the model announced just a few days ago by ZTE and that claims to have “pre-5G” functionality and 1Gbps download capability — a claim yet to verify.

Still, like any technology trend towards more-and-faster, it is going to happen and we will get used to it, not to say hooked on it, and will gladly pay for it.

 

Who would have thought 10 or 12 years ago that we would be taking photos or videos that are 5MB or 10MB large, and would be sending then instantly and wirelessly by phone at the other end of the world? I can’t wait to see what 5G will make us do.

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