Broadband has always been a staple in developed countries, offering super-fast Wi-Fi for families all over the globe. However, has broadband really developed for everyone? People in distant villages know the pain of waiting for online content to load, so what if there was an alternative that eliminated the factor of where someone lives in terms of Wi-Fi speed? In comes 5g, with fifth-generation (5G) mobile technology now offering superfast internet speeds without the need for a fixed-line connection. This raises the question, could we one day do away with cables altogether?
A 5G network would support ultra-high-speed data rates of up to 10 Gbps, low latency or delay and can cope with up to a million devices per square kilometre. A HD blockbuster movie can be downloaded in a rapid 40 seconds with 5g, smashing the speed of 4g which would take 7 minutes. In fact, 5G can let you smoothly play multiple HD videos, make 3D hologram phone calls, access virtual reality apps and enable driverless cars to communicate with each other and traffic infrastructure.
One downside for the average consumer is that 4G devices are not compatible with these networks and to access them you will have to invest in a 5G phone with higher processing power and larger memory capacity (12 GB or more), as well as things like 3D holographic projectors if you want to use those features. But for home access, you would just need a 5G router to connect to your existing devices.
Of course, the big challenge in replacing cable broadband with 5G would be putting the infrastructure in place. The UK’s superfast network (24 Mbps or higher) already reaches 96.4% of addresses, whereas 5G is available only in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, etc. The controversy over 5G in terms of health risks also makes this implementation process even more difficult, with theorists believing 5g causes things such as cancer. However, these claims appear to be false, with the WHO (World Health Organisation) saying, “after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.”
To upgrade cable speeds to those offered by 5G would require connecting every house to the network with its own fibre. Enlarging the 5G network requires the installation of many more transmitters, which themselves would be connected to the fibre network, but each can cover many homes. Because the two approaches involve very different infrastructure challenges, it’s very hard to compare the costs of each option.
However, just putting the infrastructure in place isn’t enough. To compete with cable broadband providers or to replace the cable network, 5G needs to support similar data rates. The typical or practical data rate of mobile networks is much lower than their theoretical data rates. So, although 5G theoretically supports up to 10 Gbps, its practical data rate can be as low as 200 Mbps. While this would still support typical internet use, it might not be suitable for heavy users who stream multiple simultaneous videos or play high-speed online games.
Another challenge for mobile networks is guaranteeing a reliable service for customers because their signals can be affected by several factors such as distance from the transmitter, obstacles and interference from other devices. This is a major concern for businesses and people who often work from home.
So in conclusion, the most likely outcome would be that the people will be offered a choice between 5G and regular broadband. Therefore, I don’t see the death of broadband coming anytime soon.