The mobile internet has come quite a way since the GPRS days – which for those old enough to remember using GPRS for an internet connection, then you really know how far its come. GPRS was the first generation of mobile internet which had speeds between 120 and 384Kbps. These days that’s slow even when your throttled. Then came EDGE or 2G, which was popular at the time of BlackBerry’s popularity. In fact, the very first iPhone launched without 3G (not because it wasn’t available, but it wasn’t widely available). EDGE speeds capped out at 473Kbps. So while on paper it didn’t seem like a huge improvement, it really was (remember, that back then we didn’t have websites that were as data intensive as they are now).
At the end of the 3G era is when smartphones really began to take off. 4G LTE really changed things for the mobile industry. Where we typically have speeds that can cap out at 150Mbps – of course that’s theoretical speeds and something you won’t see too often. 4G LTE has been around for quite a few years now. Verizon actually started rolling out their LTE network in late 2010. And now they, and the rest of the industry have their eyes set on 5G, which is the next evolution of mobile internet. 5G speeds have been defined as something around 20Gbps, which is a whole lot faster than what we have with 4G LTE. Heck it’s about 200 times faster than even the fastest internet from ISP’s in the US.
So with all this speed, and extra capacity for more devices, what can 5G do for us? Well the most obvious thing is allow us to watch videos in higher resolution faster (like 4K). As well as download files even faster than ever before. But more important than that, it’s great for the future, which includes the Internet of Things. These days we have thermostats, crock-pots, light bulbs, smoke detectors and so much more connected to the internet. With all of those devices being connected, it’s bound to slow things down, and use up bandwidth on the network. 5G adds a whole lot more bandwidth which means speeds will stay pretty solid. Ericsson believes that 5G can transform our world, which is going to be a pretty tall order.
With 5G, we will definitely have to get new devices, since our current smartphones and tablets don’t support 5G. Similar to when 4G LTE started rolling out. But consumers don’t need to worry about that for a good little while, considering 5G isn’t due to start rolling out until at least 2020, even though Verizon and AT&T are already testing their 5G networks. But it is going to be a very exciting time.