COVID-19 has made one thing crystal clear: Society needs the Internet to function. During the pandemic, the Internet has been critical for buying groceries, working, educating children, getting medical care, accessing news and being entertained. The health and safety of the population depends on the reliability of the network. Since January, the daily broadband use of individual Americans has increased 3 gigabytes —enough capacity to browse the Internet for 90 hours or watch HD movies for an hour. All this demand for fast, reliable and diversified communication has increased pressure on countries to quickly adopt 5G—the latest generation of digital technology.
The promise of 5G
Approximately every ten years, new wireless mobile technology emerges that improves on the previous generation. 1G, which came out in the 1980s, supported only voice calls. 2G, born in the 1990s as cell phones went from analog to digital, enabled messaging and call and text encryption to keep communications secure.
In 1998, 3G made video calling and mobile Internet access possible. 4G, introduced in 2008, supports HD TV via mobile, video conferencing and gaming. Today most cell phones use 3G and 4G technology.
5G, which began deployment in 2019, can deliver enhanced broadband for cell phones, super fast and reliable communication, and machine-to-machine communication. It promises to be 100 times faster than 4G. But beyond speed and connectivity, 5G also has ultra low latency—latency is any delay in communications— and 1,000 times more capacity because it is expanding into new frequencies of the spectrum. This will eventually make wireless Internet possible everywhere, from smart cars to the Internet of Things (IoT), which can connect all kinds of devices and sensors through the Internet and allow them to communicate without human involvement.
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