5G vs 4G Differences: 2019 Guide on 5G mmWave Technology

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A 2019 Research Study performed by SureCall found that 82% of respondents had heard of 5G cell phone signal technology, a tremendous 45% increase from the previous year’s 2018 Study.

5G 4G Cell Phone Call Man

While the buzz around 5G is certainly well-deserved, many folks are still in the dark as to what a 5G world will look like. You may already be aware of the monumental speed and latency improvements of 5G, but there are also some equally significant hurdles to be overcome before 5G finds its way into the phones of users across America.

5 Comparisons Between 5G and 4G

5G vs 4G Comparison Differences Pros Cons Performance
  1. 5G Offers Improved Throughput and Latency. Much of the excitement around 5G technology comes from the significant boost in data speed and reduced latency afforded by the higher and much broader 5G frequencies. The stories about downloading entire movies in seconds do not exaggerate, as maximum speeds under the 5G spectrum can be up to 100 times faster than what today’s bands offer. Furthermore, the latency of 5G signals is expected to be almost unnoticeable with expected delays that are 5 to 10 times shorter than current 4G LTE technologies. What’s most exciting about these performance numbers is that just like how telephones enabled us to transition from texting Morse code to calling, 5G will enable a deeper & richer level of communication between users that likely hasn’t even been discovered yet. These communications aren’t just limited to person-to-person, but also machine-to-machine (M2M/IoT) capabilities where all of your appliances will work together on a deeper level to further enhance the benefits of AI and automation on the road, at businesses, and in the home.

    In addition to the enhanced performance characteristics of 5G signals, shifting cellular data communications over to the 5G millimeter Wave (mmWave) spectrum will release built-up tension in an over-crowded 4G bandwidth landscape, enabling carriers to handle even more simultaneous users. This will be especially noticeable in crowded outdoor areas such as stadiums, arenas, and downtown areas that require large network capacity to handle all of the data that users are consuming.
  2. 5G Signal Propagation Disadvantage. However, there is one severe catch to this Pandora’s Box of glowing 5G promises. This disadvantage has to do with the way 5G signals propagate. Not only is the range of 5G signals up to 50x less than current 4G LTE cell towers, but those 5G signals will be incredibly sensitive to obstacles such as walls, terrain, weather, and even the water density in your hand. What this means is that there will need to be a signal booster/antenna in virtually every room of every building that wants to provide 5G capabilities to tenants inside. Without that supporting signal booster infrastructure to “catch” and “reproduce” that signal through buildings, users will simply not receive a reliable 5G signal indoors.
    5G Concern Network Coverage
    Another reason why signal boosters will become an absolute necessity for 5G at scale is due to the range of 5G mmWave signals. While current 4G cell towers can deliver a reliable signals up to 30-45 miles away, 5G cell towers will only manage about 1 city block before the combination of distance and obstacles reduces the signal to noise. A 5G signal booster will not only allow 5G signals to “bypass” your walls, but it can also amplify that signal for users who find themselves on the fringe of a 5G cell tower’s short range.
  3. 5G Will Not Replace 4G LTE for another Decade. Given these distinct challenges of 5G, it seems logical that current 4G LTE technologies will continue to thrive alongside 5G mmWave signals, providing good signal range and penetration for rural areas or low-intensity Internet usage while the 5G bands do the heavy lifting in close quarters. Research suggests that by 2025, only half of all cellular data communications will be over the 5G network with the first rollouts being in densely populated outdoor areas. This further solidifies the idea that 4G LTE is here to stay for a while yet.

    Part of the obstacle towards a complete 5G transition also lies in the way that the demand for such incredible 5G speeds has fallen behind the supply. Case in point, while it will be nice to simultaneously stream Netflix while uploading work files under 5G cellular mmWave bands, most people don’t need to download an entire movie in a few seconds. By and large, people today seem content with current communication technologies such as talk, text, and video. This means that there will be a period of months to several years where new 5G-enabled methods of communication emerge as as we continue to discover richer mediums which take full advantage of 5G’s performance.
  4. Although You Will Start Seeing 5G in Smart Homes and Buildings. Imagine your home being a network of appliances driven by an AI core that evolves alongside your tastes and habits. One exciting area that will immediately impact the lives of users is the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) into 5G bands. Not only does 5G performance enable more comprehensive IoT capabilities, but the same signal booster infrastructure that enables 5G cellular connectivity inside homes and buildings will also fulfill the requirements that allow your network of devices and appliances to communicate with each other over 5G frequencies.

    Given that IoT has been a budding industry with big name contenders such as Amazon and Google playing for keeps, it seems likely that IoT will be a strong reason for the first wave of adopters to upgrade their devices, appliances, homes, and buildings for 5G mmWave connectivity. Once the FCC lays down their 5G regulations, we can expect the IoT 5G ecosystem to explode as companies compete to be the next big thing in Home Automation.
  5. Long Term Impacts of 5G. IoT-enabling 5G technology in businesses will not only save big on energy costs, but are also expected to be integral across several verticals. Thanks to the latency improvements, remote surgeries relying on instantaneous haptic feedback will become more feasible under 5G mmWave bands. Smart cars, which tend to collect a wide variety of data about their surroundings such as road conditions, traffic lights, temperature, and weather, will find the low latency and high speeds of 5G to be key in helping self-driving vehicles communicate with each other to make the best decisions on the road. Google’s vision of expanding commercial applications to Smart cities considers 5G capabilities foundational to improving the Smart city network.
    5G Future Smart City Smart Cars
    Those of you who plan on waiting for the 5G industry to mature will likely have the chance to “test-drive” 5G mmWave technology at work or in public areas as businesses are often the first to pick up on economic opportunities.

5G in the Near Future

With 5G test cities sprouting up across the country, this technology is closer to fruition than ever. People are just starting to discover the amazing things which 5G will allow them to do. For example, the popular mobile gaming landscape will become even more hardcore as the low latency of 5G signals further enables the competition of skillful dexterity and quick reaction times amongst competitors.

However, carriers have their work cut out for them as they navigate through the unique challenges of true 5G mmWave signals. The cost of setting up a 5G cell tower on every block will be enormous, and then there’s the additional problem of getting those 5G signals through the walls of homes and buildings. Technologies such as Beamforming and MIMO can help optimize signal delivery and spectrum efficiency throughout a 5G cell tower network, but at the end of the day they are not enough to provide reliable 5G connectivity inside buildings.

5G mmWave Indoor Antenna with Hongtao Zhan
The Next Generation of 5G mmWave Technology

With nearly 20 years of innovative excellence under its belt, SureCall has anticipated these challenges long ago and recently finished developing a signal booster platform of 5G mmWave signal boosters and their accompanying suite of cables & antennas. These signal boosters overcome the 5G propagation challenges by not only amplifying a weak signal at the end of its range but also enabling that signal to travel intact through obstacles such as walls. By resolving the natural weaknesses of 5G frequencies, 5G signal boosters can serve as the missing link between carriers and your cell phone. This greatly increases the adoption potential of 5G, bringing it into the homes and lives of all users, not just the affluent.

SureCall has shipped hundreds of thousands of signal boosters with less than a 1% return rate, giving it a track record of developing award-winning boosters at reasonable costs while ensuring full compliance with FCC and Network Protection Standards. At the time of writing, SureCall is the first and only company to offer 5G boosters under both the FR1 and FR2 bands.

To browse our selection of signal boosters for Home, Office, and Vehicle, visit the links below.

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