The term "5G" to many means faster smartphones. But the fifth generation wireless technology will also create "smart cities," advance autonomization and roboticize the medical field, a San Diego company says.
Inseego is a San Diego-based company exploring the possibilities of the next stage of wireless technology.
"What the consumer at home will see is a myriad of things that they can do that they couldn’t do before," Inseego CEO Dan Mondor said. "It’s a gamechanger and I would say it represents a societal shift from that technology."
Broadband uses several high-speed transmission technologies to provide the consumer with the fastest internet speeds.
But 5G will create instantaneous speeds that connect more than just computers, phones and tablets; The network could link robots, cars and other sensor-equipped products and infrastructure, NBC News reported.
Tiny antennas smaller than a car key will be peppered throughout a city that can push super-fast internet connectivity to your phone, Qualcomm's Sherif Hanna told NBC 7 in 2016 when the company announced they were working on the new technology.
Mondor said to think of it as a wider pipeline that can never get clogged no matter how many users are on the network.
"4G was the foundation of creating Uber, online shopping, all kinds of other things that you couldn’t have imagined that would happen," Mondor said. "5G I think will turbocharge, supercharge that kind of a market dynamic and it will create all types of industries."
"That's the secret sauce in the technology," he said.
So what can 5G do?
- Faster speeds. 5G is predicted to download 4K Ultra High Definition movies in seconds
- Send wireless signals virtually instantaneously. This means autonomous cars can receive signals fast enough to change routes at a moment's notice and prevent crashes.
- Handle large-capacity usership at once so users in crowded sports arenas, concerts and other populated areas won't see a lag in usage
- Advance robotics; Inseego is working on technology that allows doctors to conduct surgery remotely
- Allow users to see augmented reality in real time
In April, both AT&T and Verizon made announcements about 5G in San Diego.
AT&T launched 5G service in San Diego but it can only be used through the NETGEAR Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot so far.
The city partnered with Verizon to expand Smart City capabilities in San Diego though 5G wasn't yet available through the network.
The partnership gave San Diego police and firefighters hundreds of new mobile devices that will improve critical incident communication, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said.
Verizon will also be installing new technology at five of the city's most dangerous intersections, which could also allow for autonomous driving in the city.
What are the cons?
5G is expensive. Bloomberg reported that it will cost $200 billion a year to upgrade to 5G technology. That cost will likely be offset to consumers.
Some residents worry that cell phone towers will ruin the feel of their neighborhoods. In San Diego's Kensington neighborhood, residents are already fighting against planned towers near their homes.
The free-standing 5G cell phone antenna towers, moving through the permitting process for Kensignton, will be smaller than current towers seen as pseudo-palm trees and light posts.
This week, the San Diego Planning Commission launched a study to see how 5G cell towers will affect residential neighborhoods.
Experts are concerned the frequencies on the broadband spectrum needed for 5G will interfere with those used for weather forecasting. The concern wasfirst brought up in a memo by a U.S. Navy captain and two U.S. senators have written to President Donald Trump asking for more research.
How will I need to adjust to 5G?
5G will operate without any cables, so the way providers get internet to your home will change. Instead of multiple cables running from the outside world to your home, you will likely need to plug in just one hotspot to an electrical outlet, Mondor explains.
While companies may allow smartphones to operate on both 4G and 5G technology for a time, it is likely that eventually you will need to get a new phone to operate the new technology, NBC News reported.
The use of 5G technology is expected to grow significantly in 2019 and companies like Samsung and Apple plan to have 5G smartphones available by 2020.