By Sophie Wang
NBC explains 5G with three points like a triangle — one of the points is labeled data rate. The increased data rate of the update allows internet speeds nine to 20 times faster than they are as of now, as well as “8K” videos, 3D streaming and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The next corner of the triangle is labeled latency and reliability. Latency is the pause between a call for data transfer and the transfer itself — 5G will slow this down dramatically. The last corner is number of devices, which means that the number of 5G devices in circulation is expected to increase dramatically.
The Internet of Things allows devices to connect and communicate over the Cloud
Another concept that has sparked excitement is that 5G will lend power to the Internet of Things (IoT), which allows many devices to connect and communicate with each other, creating a smart house. An example of a smart house goes this way: a man is sleeping, not expecting to wake up for the next 20 minutes, but his phone has just discovered that his route to work is bumper-to-bumper. The phone sends a quick message to the alarm clock, which wakes him up 20 minutes early, then to the coffee machine, which speedily begins making his coffee. The man wakes up 20 minutes early, has his coffee with toast and then arrives to work right on time. His grumpy boss then trundles away to harass a different employee, who is late and not blessed with a smart house.
However, 5G runs on a different frequency than 4G — the millimeter wave. A reason that the millimeter wave has not been used before, despite its benefits, is because it is very delicate and picky. Instead of the tall cell towers that are spread relatively far apart, Scientific American describes a plethora of trash-can sized cell towers, about one every city block — this makes 5G difficult for those who are living in rural communities. The need for replacements has caused worries over cost — Bloomberg reporters have estimated a cost of upwards of $200 billion.
Another worry that scientists are dealing with, Forbes reports, is that millimeter waves are delicate and may be disturbed by things as small as a falling leaf or passing car.
WHAT DO STUDENTS THINK?
Freshman Sury Dongre is eagerly looking towards the horizon for the update “These capabilities of 5G definitely outweigh the cons, including the 200 billion dollar [cost],” Dongre said.
Citing the law of creative destruction, which states that the constant destruction of old concepts and tool and the creation of new ones allows innovation, Dongre explained why upending today’s idea of electronic abilities is necessary discover new ideas.
“It’s just a way of moving forwards in our daily lives,” Dongre said.
On the other hand, some students, such as sophomore Aarushi Argarawal, doubt that the update will be worth it. Argarawal worries about the debt that the U.S. is already in and doubts that the update will be sustainable cost-wise. She also thinks that, given the delicate nature of the millimeter wave, the update will not be reliable.
Argarawal finds the concept of an Internet of Things enabled smart house somewhat “creepy,” though she is also excited about the heightened capabilities of the update.
Ultimately, the 5G upgrade is a machine that cannot be stopped. Estimated to hit California between 2018 and 2019, its shadow will soon hit the horizon, whether it is wished for not.