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Mobile internet is a service which once seemed to be a novelty but has since become an essential part of our daily lives. It stands a testament to technology’s constant habit to create reliance where there was previously no perceived need. The transition from third generation (3G) to fourth generation (4G) mobile networks has allowed us to do practically anything you can do with a home computer anywhere, from texting, to streaming videos and music, and even playing Fortnite while on the move. Modern handheld devices are capable of so much that it’s hard to imagine just 20 years ago less than 20% of UK households even owned a mobile phone. This pace of change shows no signs of slowing, with the next generation (5G) set to roll out in the next few years.
Though the current projected download speeds are only estimations, 5G could offer between 1 and 10 Gigabits per second (or between 125 Megabytes and 1.25 Gigabytes per second), which would give your phone the ability to download a HD film in well under a minute. This would also put an end to buffering times on videos, and websites and photos would load almost instantly. The UK isn’t set to begin rolling out 5G until 2020, according to the government’s 5G strategy, meaning widespread coverage would likely be seen from 2022 onwards. However some networks may be ahead of the curve, as EE claimed in February 2018 that 5G was just 18 months away.
There may be a slight time-lag in the transition for most consumers, as according to Howard Watson, chief technology and information officer (CTIO) of BT, in order to use the network, you will need a new device designed to do so. “We are expecting those to be in production in the second half of 2019, so our job is to prepare the network and carry out trials with those devices to get ourselves in the position to launch at the end of that year.”
However, far from just reducing your ping in online games, 5G also promises to revolutionise day to day life in the way that previous generations did before it. One major advancement 5G will facilitate is the expansion of ‘connected car’ technology, or a car equipped with internet access that allows it to communicate not just with devices, but also with other connected cars on the road, transmitting information about traffic and collisions. The current bottleneck is not the technology, but the network, and the shift to 5G will no doubt be met with a new generation of connected vehicles. This development would make cars a part of the ‘Internet of Things’, or the wide network of devices, appliances, vehicles, and more that are connected to the internet allowing them to exchange data and be accessed remotely.
There’s no doubt that it won’t be long before the novelty promised by 5G becomes the standard, and we’ll wonder how we ever lived without the conveniences that the network offers, and so the cycle will continue up until the day Skynet comes online.