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June 5G Update

June 02 2020

We are almost halfway through 2020, and it's time to evaluate where we are with 5G. This is my third article about 5G, and if you want to become the office geek on 5G, there is much you need to know. Before we get into the nuts and bolts of what is happening with 5G, let's take a moment and think about how technology and telecommunications have changed since February.

In my last article, I discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and live. Record numbers of users on Zoom and other videoconferencing services, virtual tours of homes on the market are almost required, and the sheer amount of e-commerce is mind blowing. I am happy to say our communication infrastructure held up during probably the highest demand for service to date. In my article, I discussed the fact many of the changes made due to the virus have now become a normal function in life, as many had their technology skills upgraded—your grandparents on Zoom; who would have thought?

What a great lead-in to discuss 5G and how the need is becoming greater for speed, capacity and latency. Not sure what all that means? Here is a review:

Speed

This is a big one all the phone carriers will be talking about because we consumers can relate to how long it takes to download and use our mobile devices. True 5G is billed as 100 times faster than 4G—let me give you an example. You want to download a full-length movie? 4G would take about 48 minutes, and 5G about seven minutes. As you can see, the time saved would be 41 minutes. Think about how much time you currently spend on your phone using apps, visiting websites and email. A few seconds saved every minute will add up!

Capacity

This one you might have experienced and will love the change. 5G will give us more capacity, which can be called bandwidth. Here's a visual: take the busy road you drive on and change it from two lanes to 100 lanes. In the real world, you are attending a sporting event, concert and trying to share a Facebook Live or Instagram to brag about where you are. With 4G, you have no service or it's very slow. 5G will be very noticeable when you have thousands of people trying to use the internet. Today even smaller groups can tax the network depending on the bandwidth.

Latency

The word "latency" you will be hear a lot as being one of the biggest advantages to 5G. With 5G, some of us might notice a slight difference when it comes to latency. If you are a gamer or use virtual reality—oh, your world will change with 5G. To understand latency, it's the time between your request for data to a server and the amount of time the data is returned to you. Before I share facts, you need to understand what a millisecond is—1/1000th of a second. To give you a reference, a blink of an eye is 100-150 milliseconds. Let's start with 3G, which was introduced in 2003. Latency is 100-500 milliseconds. 4G was released in 2010; latency is 50-100 milliseconds. 5G latency is 1-10 milliseconds.

To you and I, these improvements will be noticed but really won't change the way we use our mobile devices. When we are away from Wi-Fi, most of the time the difference can hardly be noticed, so when we enter a 5G area, we might see the benefits of speed, capacity and latency if we plan to download a full-length movie in seven minutes. The biggest benefit to 5G is artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and many changes in the way we live and work. It is predicted that by 2035, 5G will be responsible for over $3.5 trillion in economic output and more than 22 million jobs.

Remember that since December I have advised to hold off buying anything? Turns out due to a recent merger, some phone users who bought a 5G phone will not work on the new merged system—told you so!

I found a complicated rating system done by an independent resource that grades the carriers based on three factors: coverage, speed and devices, all weighted equally with a perfect score of 100%—not naming names, as of May we have 40%, 49% and 60%. What does all the mean? WAIT to buy; your 4G phone is just fine for now!

For the geeks in the room and those wanting more details, I will attempt to explain the three bands—low, middle and high—next month. Now there is exciting news!

Dick Betts is a REALTOR® in The Villages, Fla. for Touchstone Real Estate in Mount Dora. He's also a national speaker, trainer and consultant. Learn more at www.DickBetts.comwww.DickBetts.com