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What Is 5G?

Now that DISH is set to become the fourth largest wireless carrier in the United States (if the Sprint/T-Mobile merger goes through), more DISH fans are beginning to ask the question: What exactly is 5G? Let’s take a closer look at what 5G is and why DISH is so focused on making it the crux of their upcoming wireless services.

If you follow the wireless industry at all, then you know the race for 5G has been on for some time. At this point all four major wireless carriers offer 5G in some form or another. If the Sprint/T-Mobile merger goes through, then DISH will be a new carrier that also has plans to create a 5G infrastructure.

5G stands for fifth-generation cellular wireless. Like the generations that came before (3G, LTE etc.) the biggest difference will be the wireless speeds that 5G will bring with it. However, what many people don’t realize is that with each generation not only do data speeds change, but so to do the air interfaces. The change in air interfaces means that the new signals are incompatible with the previous generation.

PC Magazine took the time to break down the major changes that each generation brought to the table. “1G was analog cellular, 2G technologies, such as CDMA, GSM, and TDMA, were the first generation of digital cellular technologies. 3G technologies, such as EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS, brought speeds from 200kbps to a few megabits per second. 4G technologies, such as WiMAX and LTE, were the next incompatible leap forward, and they are now scaling up to hundreds of megabits and even gigabit-level speeds,” writes PC Magazine.

Knowing all of that, it may seem like the race for 5G is over. That couldn’t be further from the truth. All of these carriers are waiting for major upgrades in early 2020 that will help them improve their speed and coverage. Coverage is the biggest roadblock at the moment. Current 5G base stations only have a range of about 600 feet.

A true 5G wireless service will improve on the current generation in three major ways. First, faster data speeds. Second, lower latency—which means more responsiveness. And finally, the ability to connect more devices simultaneously. In the brave new world of connected devices, the ability to connect more devices to one network is going to make a huge difference.

5G is undoubtedly the future of wireless communications in the U.S. The current bottleneck is simple infrastructure upgrades, which the four major wireless carriers are all working on. DISH Network is finally finding itself in the right place at the right time. If this Sprint/T-Mobile merger goes through and DISH is allowed to purchase their wireless assets. DISH will become a major player almost overnight.


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