What does 5G-ready mean, exactly?

What does “5G-ready mean exactly? Well, nothing. But not exactly.

With the recent write-ups we’ve been doing on Cradlepoint’s latest “5G-ready” routers, it occurred to us that you might be wondering what “5G-ready” means. So, here we go.

We’ve become accustomed to our trusty 4G connection. It has carried the burden of our texts, emails, video calls, movies, music, and file uploads for what seems like forever. Yet, one day our smart-aleck grandchildren will ask us wide-eyed what it was like as though we had lived in the days before indoor plumbing. Sure, 5G will help us do all our old, mundane tasks much faster and with fewer network interruptions.

But wait, there’s more…

Imagine opening your favorite video streaming service, selecting a show, and having it play right away, without buffering. From anywhere in the world. Or, imagine being able to lead a multi-user video conference call from a remote location. Without glitches or dropped connections.

Yep, the next generation network is poised to take entertainment, business, learning, and daily life applications to new and exciting levels. The next iteration of mobile networks will deliver a much faster and much more capable service than its predecessor 4G. For example, download speeds of up to 10 Gbps and latency (the time taken to open a downloaded file) of 1 millisecond. That’s more than 600 times faster than the typical 4G speeds on today’s mobile phones. Fast enough to download a 4K high-definition movie in 25 seconds, or to stream several at the same time.

Eventually anyway. While US carriers have introduced 5G networks in dozens of cities, the first ones aren’t nearly that fast. The reasons for that might need a whole other article.

But anyway, to put all this into context, the phone you’re most likely using right now is capable of download speeds of 300 Mbps. To download a full-length film on 4G it’ll probably take you around 2-3 minutes, but on 5G you’ll be ready to press play in 4-40 seconds.

Not only that, 5G will help expand our emerging technologies like augmented reality, self-driving cars, gaming, and so on. Imagine a near future where your car drives you home from work while you relax and catch up on tasks. Or, with a few swipes on your smart phone, you can have your washer start a load of laundry and your oven heat dinner to be ready when you get home. Next generation smart devices will rely on 5G.

So 5G-ready in a nutshell…

Naturally, what “5G-ready” means depends on the device you’re talking about. In order to connect to the 5G network, you’ll need to be using a 5G-ready device, but admittedly, ‘5G-ready’ sounds like a nebulous marketing-term. Basically, it means things like a 5G-specific modem, a larger battery and faster, more powerful processors to support the more data-heavy tasks enabled by using 5G, and semiconductor chips designed to respond to 5G frequency. But it’s important to remember 5G will complement and co-exist with 4G, not replace it, just as 4G co-exists with 3G in many networks today.

Comparing 4G to 5G (in theory, at least)4G
Latency200 milliseconds1 millisecond
Data Rate100x Improvement
Millimeter Wave SpectraSupports 4000 devices/sq. kmSupports 1 million devices/sq. km
Speed100 MbpsUp to 10 Gbps
IoT device PerformanceBattery life of low-power devices will increase up to 10 yrs.

So, it’s likely that the huge increases in speed and quality that 5G promises will happen gradually, rather than all at once. After all, the infrastructure has to grow into it, which will take time. But if you have any questions or comments at all about this, please feel welcome to reach out to Corporate Armor at [email protected]. You can also call 877-449-0458. Thanks for reading!