Will 5G Make Your Cable Modem Obsolete?

Tim Ventura
Dec 31, 2019 · 3 min read

Over a decade ago, smartphones democratized the internet by allowing people who couldn’t afford a computer or didn’t have local internet access to get online. It gave first-world citizens greater convenience by making the internet available anywhere — and it brought emerging nations into the 21st century with access to an online world that was previously beyond reach.

Today, nearly half of all website visitors are on mobile devices — but there remains a stubborn gap in performance between cellular network data-speeds & dedicated hard-line connections.

Despite the ubiquity of mobile access, the higher performance of cable & fiber still ties us to costly monthly bills & wifi-networking for peak performance. Cellular LTE connections work, but not as well as a hard-line — leaving the majority of users paying for 2 separate types of services to solve a single basic need — it’s cumbersome, expensive, and it’s about to change.

5G LTE = Low-Latency, Gigabit Cellular

5G introduces a completely new paradigm to the communications world with the potential to rapidly transform not only the mobile & smartphone industries, but also greatly influence the internet itself — perhaps as much as the advent of mobile a decade ago, maybe even more.

So what is 5G? According to Wikipedia, it’s the the fifth generation of cellular network technology. The industry association 3GPP defines any system using 5G NR (5G New Radio) software as “5G”.

I realize that definition isn’t very helpful, so here’s a layman’s version: the technologies being developed are an evolution of 4G wireless technology designed to reduce latency, allow more simultaneous connections, and deliver faster speeds. How much faster?

  • Data rates of tens of megabits per second for tens of thousands of users
  • Data rates of 100 megabits per second for metropolitan areas
  • 1 Gbs simultaneously to many workers on the same office floor

How 5G Will Transform Your Internet Connection

As CNBC suggests in “How 5G Will Change Home Internet”, the reduced latency and 100 megabit data-rates could mean the ability to use your cellular network device or potentially a home-based cellular modem as a replacement for your cable modem, and possibly your wifi router too.

For many people, this means no cable modem, no router, no wifi dead-zones, no paying exorbitant prices for both “home internet” plus “cellular data”. You can consolidate everything into your cellular connection and do just fine.

This will also empower a revolution in mobile device technologies to take advantage of the massively-higher data-rates, including predicted advantages for upcoming IoT devices as well as better access to data for smartphones, which can be used in Augmented Reality, video-conference, and other applications.

Additionally, 5G will help overcome an information delivery bottleneck that currently limits websites & online portals. If mobile can achieve parity with hard-line connections, it means that web-technologies can focus less on compressing CSS & Javascript code and more on delivering a truly rich media experience that leverages today’s web technology is capable of.

Global 5G Deployment Is Already Underway

T-Mobile in the United States has already rolled out the first nationwide 5G network in the USA, with other carriers close behind. Down under, Australian mobile carrier Telstra launched a working 5G Gigabit LTE network back in late 2018, and competitor Optus followed suit shortly thereafter — with average speeds between 100 and 300 megabits and peaks of 930 megabit download speeds.

China will launching it’s 5G national network at the beginning of November 2019, along with South Africa, South Korea, San Marino, and a host of other nations either in live operations or testing with 5G networks.

In addition to carrier adoption, several smartphone models have also added 5G compatibility — including the Galaxy S10, OnePlus 7 Pro, LG V50, Note 10 Plus, and several others. Unfortunately, iPhone users like myself will have to wait until the iPhone 12 comes out, but overall this is an indicator that this technology is on-track to a successful global rollout.

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Tim Ventura

Written by

Futurist, marketing executive and sometime writer with 25+ years of tech industry experience and a passion for the future. https://www.timventura.com

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