The roll out of 5G has everyone talking. We all want to experience reliable connection with low latency, fast upload and download times and the ability to connect to the world’s fastest network.

5G will deliver technologies we’ve never experienced (or even thought of yet) and will connect us to futuristic things we never imagined possible like autonomous cars, auto-dosing washing machines, smart cities and much more. 5G will be 10-100 times faster compared to the 4G connection we’re currently using. As we all anxiously await the arrival of 5G in our neighborhood, some are unsure if their current technologies will be able to connect to the latest and greatest 5G network. To put it simply, in order to harness this powerful new network, you’ll need upgraded technologies to do so.

Before we dive too deep to how 5G will affect your current technology, let’s take a step backwards and explain how 5G works. Wireless networks function on various waves on a spectrum, broken down into a low, mid and high-band frequencies. The 3G and 4G we all know works on the low and mid-band spectrum, leaving the high-band essentially untapped. 5G will utilize all three bands in multi-band strategy that hasn’t been implemented previously. The new high-band, enables Gbps speeds with an ultra-low latency. And because 5G will being using this new high-band, it opens up space on the low and mid-band spectrum so those bands become faster and more efficient. For 5G devices to work, both the carrier technology and your device need new antenna technology and a few other upgrades to work on the high-band spectrum. Which brings us to our main point.  

If you have a 4G or dare we say, a 3G phone or device it unfortunately will not pick up the 5G network. To experience the speed of the 5G, you will need a 5G capable device. This is because the 5G network will require devices to have new software upgrades and equipment which is something currently most phones don’t operate on.

Both the 4G and 5G network will work in harmony for the time being, but over time that will change as cities become more 5G accessible. This doesn’t mean your 4G device will become a brick! You will likely see an increase in speeds on 4G connections because carriers will be building out their 5G networks on the backs of their LTE networks.

If you consider yourself an early tech adopter, you’ll definitely need to pick up a 5G enabled device, you can find a full list here. In addition, you’ll need to be in an area where 5G is available, which you can find here.

We are expecting more 5G enabled phones to hit the market in 2020 as 5G increases its coverage. There’s a reason why there are just a handful of 5G capable phones available right now.  That’s because everything we know about 4G phones and hardware has to change to accommodate the speed of the 5G network and that requires research and time. We can look to chip manufacturers like Qualcomm, Qorvo and others to build the chips needed for the new network. Antennas and batteries are also added to the list of updated hardware we can expect in phone to come.

If you’re a Samsung fan, rumor has it they’ll be releasing new 5G capable phones in February 2020. If you’re more of an Apple user, there are industry-wide murmurs that the iPhone 12 set to release in September 2020 will be 5G capable- but will carry a price tag of almost 30% more than the iPhone 11.

As we’ve stated previously, 5G is poised to change everything we do, starting with our wireless services and products. Just on your mobile phone, you’ll see significantly faster mobile speeds, better signal coverage and a lower latency. What does this mean for you though? It means if you want to download an entire HD season of your favorite TV show on-the-go, you can in seconds. Are you wanting to stream a football game while at a restaurant completely separate from Wi-Fi? Go right ahead, you can do it with zero lag and watch everything in real-time and no screen freezing. You’ll see an exceptionally better experience on your phone and that’s just the start.

With all the chatter around 5G and what it will do for our phones, the Internet of Things will grow because of 5G. This can affect you from the technology in your home to the world around you. When you think of your home, 5G will power a more efficient household. One example is a smarter way to water your lawn. Your sprinkler system would know when to water your lawn based on current weather conditions and adjust as needed. Another great example is smart temperature sensors. Your home’s AC or heating unit will adjust based on outside temperature, who is in the home and other household factors. What about lighting that can turn on when you’re walking in the door because it’s connected to your phone?

Outside of the home, IoT that uses 5G can power a smarter city. Think about sensors along the roads you drive every day, that interact with your traffic lights to enable more efficient traffic signals, that result in less traffic, less congested roadways, and better air quality. 5G could also power traffic alerts that send real-time communications directly to your phone or car, enabling you to take faster ways to work or wherever you’re going. This would go beyond what’s currently available through Waze, Google or Apple maps.

While there are some definite pros to 5G technology, there are a few things to consider, like security or privacy impacts that 5G will have on our current technology. One of the great things about 5G and the growth of IoT networks, is the ability to support more connected devices on cellular networks, thus increasing the number of possible vulnerabilities. This is because some IoT devices have lighter security measures to allow a simpler communication and connection. For privacy concerns, the faster speeds and low latency will mean better products and services, which could result in increased privacy risks because of data collection and personal information use. Because of the smart devices that can connect with online services, the new technology will create more personal detailed data sets for service providers and device manufacturers.

Another concern for privacy, is 5G’s ability to provide a better-quality picture and video experience, which means facial recognition technology will become even more prevalent. This means things like public video surveillance will see major improvements, in turn making faces easier to analyze by AI systems so they can be identified and tracked while moving around in public spaces. The ability to collect and share data in the realm of privacy and security is a double-edged sword. It’s great for personalized services that can improve your day-to-day life, but on the flip side it increases concern for users’ privacy and security because of the growth of data collection on individuals.

5G coverage isn’t widespread yet, and most major carriers are making big moves for 5G rollouts to come in 2020 for U.S. consumers. The technology is still new and there’s a lot to uncover before we can all truly harness the power of the 5G-enabled spectrum. There are absolutely no doubts 5G is going to change our current technology in a major way and provide massive upgrades to everything we do.