Dear M & M: Can you tell me about 5G technology? What is all the fuss about? How will this help my business? – John

Dear John: What has changed was advancement in radio frequency (RF) and an ability to transmit. One fundamental difference is 5G’s use of unique radio frequencies to achieve what 4G networks cannot. The radio spectrum is broken up into bands, each with unique features as you move up into higher frequencies. 4G networks use frequencies below 6 GHz, but 5G uses extremely high frequencies in the 30 GHz to 300 GHz range. 5G also uses shorter wavelengths, which means that antennas can be much smaller than existing antennas while still providing precise directional control.

Since one base station can utilize even more directional antennas, it means that 5G can support over 1,000 more devices per meter than what’s supported by 4G.

What all of this means is that 5G networks can beam ultrafast data to a lot more users, with high precision and little latency. Fourth Generation (4-G) started in late 2000, making internet speed 500 times faster than third generation (3-G) devices, making streaming, downloading movies and video conferencing available.

The promise is 5G will be 100 times faster than 4G. The biggest gain is latency. Latency is the time it takes from the moment information is sent to the user before they can use it. You shouldn’t have any problems with what they call buffering (waiting for download). According to Digital Trends with 4G networks, you’re looking at an average latency of around 50 milliseconds (ms). That could drop to 1ms with 5G technology.

Just to give that some context, it takes at least 10ms for an image seen by the human eye to be processed by the brain. Low latency is vital for real-time reactions in machines or cars and it could also make cloud gaming possible. The prime benefits of 5G devices will be significantly faster speeds in data access, downloading and streaming content. In addition, 5G devices will have increased computing power and make use of the lower latency, meaning that the devices will enjoy virtually instantaneous connections to the network, as well as greater connectivity when on the move due to the use of advanced antenna beam steering. Massive machine-to-machine communications, autonomous driving, manufacturing and business communications and connecting billions of devices without human intervention at a scale never seen.

Ultra-reliable low latency communications; meaning real time applications in language translation, robotic surgery, telemedicine with wearable technology and hologram technology becoming more reliable.

Overall advanced capacity to keep networks connected at faster and more reliable means.

ASK M&M is prepared and submitted by Mark Schmitt, director of the Small Business Development Center at Cochise College; and Mignonne Hollis, executive director at the Arizona Economic Development Foundation. To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Cochise College (520) 515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Arizona Regional’ Economic Development Foundation at (520) 458-6948 or email hollism@aredf.org; www.aredf.org.

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