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The New Internet, Coming Soon

Posted on 03/01/2019

5G mobile device surrounded by devices and appliances

In 2019, we are going to hear a lot more about 5G. 5G is the latest generation of cellular mobile communications, soon to succeed 4G that we have become accustomed to with our mobile devices. 5G promises to seriously ramp up our digital lives. 5G will be up to 1000 times faster than 4G and will decrease latency (the term for how long it takes for the signal to go to the source and come back – imagine asking Alexa or Siri a question and getting an answer) from 10 milliseconds to 1 millisecond.

5G networks, combined with the computing power behind artificial intelligence that is growing at exponential rates, means that mobile devices will be sold at drastically reduced prices (in the $10s of dollars), since they will no longer require the expensive components that do all the work. The heavy lifting (5G + AI) will be done remotely in the cloud. 5G and AI will undergird the Internet of Things, making virtually everything (your TV, your refrigerator, your toothbrush) a smart device. It will also give many more people around the world access to smart devices due to the greatly reduced costs.

It will take some time to physically build a network of cell towers and base stations to provide 5G service nationwide. This is due to the physics behind 5G. New 5G devices will use higher-frequency radio waves which travel shorter distances than the lower-frequency radio waves that travel farther distances between 4G devices. This might slow the sales of 5G devices at least initially as the infrastructure is built across the country, but demand for 5G devices promises to be strong.

As 5G spreads, we will start to see products and services (and the jobs behind those products and services) in the 2020s that, at the moment, we can't conceive of. It is similar to the rollout of 4G around 2010 and 2011. Very few people at that time could envision, for example, ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft that 4G enabled and are now commonplace in many cities across the US. This is a very powerful reminder of the message we hear in education that it is difficult to prepare students for work, for school, for civic participation, and, indeed, for a future that are unknown. It is important for us as educators to understand this momentous shift that is coming and think deeply about how to prepare students for this brave new world.

All we can say with certainty, though, is that the new Internet will be here soon.

Source: AI + 5G = New Internet in 2020 External link opens in new window or tab

Source: 5G is going to transform smartphones - eventually External link opens in new window or tab

Source: What is the future of 5G? External link opens in new window or tab