5 things to know about 5G

5 things to know about 5G
Pole-mounted "small cells" necessary for high-speed, fast-response 5G communications, "talk" to each other in Houston, one of four metro areas where wireless market leader Verizon plans to introduce fixed wireless service before the end of 2018. (Verizon/Courtesy)

1. You won’t need cable or satellite TV anymore.

Verizon and T-Mobile will market their 5G fixed wireless residential offerings as alternatives to traditional TV services, with Verizon bundling Apple 4K TV and YouTube TV.


2. Some cities won’t like all the cells.

5G works by having a dense collection of “small cells” installed about 500 feet from each other around neighborhoods and business districts. Some cities have already taken steps to regulate them and charge steep fees, prompting calls for federal standards. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature last spring smoothed the path for the industry by passing a law limiting how much say cities can have.

3. You’ll need a new phone to take 5G on the road.

And that new phone won’t be cheap at first. The Motorola Moto Z3, the first 5G-enabled phone to hit the market, is priced at $480. And customers will have to buy another device to go with it when mobile 5G is introduced. Apple has not yet announced a 5G-compatible iPhone.

4. It will speed development of virtual reality.

Yep, just what we need. A bunch of yahoos walking the streets with VR glasses, seeing apparitions the rest of us don’t see, like monsters walking across cars and spaceships landing on buildings. If you think gamers are obsessed now, just wait.

5. Bandwidth and latency are terms to know.

These are two key phrases you’ll hear as carriers explain why they need to position all those “small cells” around your neighborhood.

“Bandwidth” refers to the amount of data traffic that can be moved simultaneously across networks — and with all of the personal and commercial uses that carriers say will be possible, much bandwidth will be needed. As with speed, more bandwidth is good for 5G

“Latency” refers to the delay between commands and responses. In this case, the lower the latency, the faster the communication.

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