The buzz about 5G is everywhere, the fifth generation of cellular technology.
It promises to be super crazy fast, and it can change the future of technology as we know it.
And it's right around the corner.
But before we get caught up in all the hype, let's rack up the facts and have some real talk about the expectations.
And I figure, why not do that over a game of pool?
I'm Bridget Carey, let's break it down.
Now, to understand 5G, first you gotta know a little history.
In the beginning, cell phones were all about voice, 2G brought texting, 3G/4G, that was boosting your Internet speed.
5G is the next stage.
And there are three angles to this upgrade.
First up is speed.
It can ten to 100 times faster than a typical cell network.
Even faster than what most people get at home.
We're talking downloading a TV series in seconds.
It's also about connection density.
That means getting way more people and devices on the networking without congestion problems.
And it's about eliminating latency.
That means there's no delay in the information getting to you.
We're talking a lag time of one millisecond.
That's as fast as a camera flash.
When they bring all these features together it means we can think differently about how we use the internet.
It means self-driving cars can talk to each other on the road without delay.
There's gonna be way more gizmos and gadgets online tracking data.
And for you, it'll be so smooth, you can watch a live sports game in VR from anywhere.
There's a lot of potential, but to build this world we need technology that cap into a new section of the electromagnetic spectrum.
It sounds wow but it's not that complicated.
[SOUND] Information is carried in airwaves all around us.
And the easiest way to think of the spectrum is to break it down in a line.
Now, most of the technology we use today is in the lower end.
We're talking radio waves, TV signals, microwaves.
And what the cellular networks are using now.
On the high end, that's where you got your visible light, UV light, x-rays.
The higher you go in frequency, the faster speed you can achieve.
And there's this section of frequency that's higher than anything we're using right now.
We're gonna put from that to get 5G.
It's called millimeter wave, but it comes with its challenges.
[UNKNOWN] waves can be kinda finicky.
It doesn't do well with obstacles in the way, like buildings or trees.
I mean, even a leaf can get in the way, and it can cause interference.
To get around this, carriers can beam signals in specific directions.
Targeting customers directly, or sometimes that means pulling a trick shot where the signal bounces around obstacles to get to you.
Millimeter is fast, but it doesn't travel as far.
Let's say this dart is a typical cell phone tower.
It disperses a signal to a wide area.
But with 5G, the signal doesn't cover as As much.
You need many more cell sites to cover the same space.
More antennas all over the place.
On street signs and lamp posts and rooftops.
Wireless companies will have to install hundreds of thousands more antennas all over.
They're also trying to cram more antennas on existing cell towers.
This is a messy project and it costs a lot.
Plus you got neighborhoods upset about how ugly it looks to have antennas everywhere, and people are concerned about the health consequences of having all of these high frequency beams all around us.
Now, the first 5G networks are rolling out over the next two years.
But the 5G you get may not even be the technology I'm describing here.
Some carriers are just boosting their 4G networks and calling them 5G.
And the speed you get really depends on the wavelength that's used.
It's complicated, and that's even if you have a device that can tap into 5G speeds.
5G holds a lot of promise, but it's a challenging path to get there.
So the next time you're buying a phone and you hear all that cool marketing lingo, consider this, I wouldn't want you to get hustled.