The recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona is typically where new smartphones are debuted. This year we saw a few impressive ones like the new Samsung Galaxy S7 and the LG G5, both running on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor which promises download speeds up to 600 Mbps. Some of the buzz at this year’s show was centered on the next cellular standard called 5G. As one journalist recently put it “Your world is about to change. 5G is coming.” Although it’s quite possible that your world is about to change, it’s probably not going to be from 5G, at least for a while. Based on the 10 year period it has taken to implement the next generation wireless standards starting with 1G in the 1980’s through 3G in the 2000’s and 4G in 2010’s, don’t expect to be able to buy and use a 5G phone anytime soon.
5G Will Be Many Times Faster Than 4G
“It's like the speed of fiber, without the fiber.” With promised speeds ranging from 1Gbps up to 10Gbps and beyond, we could be talking about downloading a 2 hour HD movie to a mobile device in seconds. On the other hand, you don’t have to look further than your own LTE phone to know that even 4G’s promised download speeds of 100 – 300Mbps end up more like 10Mbps as you watch a 50MB file take many seconds or even minutes to download. In a world where your download speeds may vary it will take a while for the infrastructure to catch up. As fast as the radios in towers and devices may be, the carriers will have to upgrade the backhauls or the connections from towers to switch in order to accommodate increased loads and demand when many users start using the new networks. This will take time and money.
When Will We See 5G Phones?