The Wild Technology That Will Make 5G Wireless Work

Posted October 18th 2016


via Fast Company

Wireless technology is a stone soup of acronyms, jargon, numbers, and marketing gibberish that the industry likes to boil down into terms like “4G,” the technology used by today’s phones. (It’s also known as LTE, which stands for “long-term evolution”—as if that clarifies anything.) Now tech companies are talking about 5G, and Qualcomm has announced its first 5G modem chip, the Snapdragon X50, for phones and other gadgets. No surprise: 5G will be faster than 4G. But it will also bring tens or even hundreds of billions of new devices online.

Yes, the new standard will download apps and web pages way faster, and allow higher-resolution video streaming that doesn’t stutter. But it could also create a whole new connected world. Realistic scenarios include fleets of delivery drones flying in formation, tens of billions of wireless sensors constantly measuring every aspect of our planet, and a doctor on one side of the planet controlling a robotic scalpel on a patient on the other side. It could also finally kill landline broadband, cutting one more cord into the house or office.

“If all goes as Qualcomm hopes, its chips might go into final products in 2018. 5G probably won’t get a wide rollout until 2019 or later,” writes Fast Company‘s Sean Captain. 5G technology will also require a “complex jiggering of physics principles, government regulations, and corporate interests,” before it becomes the standard. How will 5G change things? It’s most promising effect – the significantly reduced lag time in receiving wireless signals – will enable future technology like autonomous cars and flying drones to operate safely and efficiently.