What is 5G?

5G will be the lifeblood of the new economy.Self-driving cars, virtual reality, smart cities and networked rob...

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 5:29 AM
Updated: Jan 30, 2018 5:29 AM

5G will be the lifeblood of the new economy.

Self-driving cars, virtual reality, smart cities and networked robots will all be powered by 5G networks someday soon. 5G promises to open the door to new surgical procedures, safer transportation and instant communication for first responders.

It's no wonder the Trump administration is considering a government-funded 5G public utility, according to a report Sunday in Axios.

There's no reason to believe that will happen. A publicly financed 5G project would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. It would be a moonshot unlike anything the government has taken on since it sent people to the moon.

5G is on its way whether the government backs it or not. Major internet companies are far along in their 5G network development, and the first networks will be up and running in the next couple years.

What is 5G?

Like every "next generation" wireless network technology, 5G will give your phone a speedier connection -- about 10 times faster than 4G, industry experts expect. That's enough to stream "8K" video or download a 3D movie in 30 seconds. (On 4G, it would take six minutes.)

The extra capacity will make service more reliable, allowing more gadgets to connect to the network at the same time.

But 5G is about much more than smartphones. Sensors, thermostats, cars, robots, and other new technology will all connect to 5G one day. Today's 4G networks don't have the bandwidth for the vast amounts of data all those devices will transmit.

5G networks will also reduce to virtually zero the lag time between devices and the servers they communicate with. For driverless cars, that means uninterrupted communication between a car and other vehicles, data centers and outside sensors.

To accomplish all that, 5G will need to travel over super-high-frequency airwaves. Higher frequencies bring faster speeds and more bandwidth. But they can't travel through walls, windows or rooftops, and they get considerably weaker over long distances.

That means wireless companies will need to install thousands -- perhaps millions -- of miniature cell towers on top of every lamp post, on the side of buildings, inside every home and potentially in every room.

That's why 5G will complement 4G rather than outright replace it. In buildings and in crowded areas, 5G might provide a speed boost. But when you're driving down the highway, 4G could be your only option -- at least for a while.

Who is building it?

Each of the four nationwide cell phone carriers -- Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint -- are developing and testing 5G network technology. Chipmakers, including Qualcomm and Intel, are building processors and radios that enable 5G communications. And the major network equipment companies, including Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei, are building the backbone and equipment to support 5G.

The research and development alone is costly, but building out 5G networks will be wildly expensive -- even for an industry accustomed to spending tens of billions of dollars every year in infrastructure costs. Rolling out 5G to the entire United States will cost $300 billion, according to Barclays.

The government could spend that kind of money, but it would be getting a very late start. And it would have to contract with the network equipment and telecommunications companies, which are already building and testing their own networks anyway.

A White House official confirmed that a 5G network, as reported by Axios, is part of the administration's national security strategy. The official said the memo reported by Axios, however, is "dated" and "not representative of the administration's thinking," declining to provide further details.

Verizon and AT&T declined comment on the Axios report.

When is it coming?

The wireless industry expects 5G networks to launch in 2020.

This month, 5G cleared a significant hurdle when 3GPP, an international wireless consortium, approved a technology standard for next-generation networks. Next year, the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union is expected to review 3GPP's standard. After that, wireless companies can begin buying and selling 5G equipment with the assurance that it will all work together.

Meanwhile, Verizon and AT&T have made strides in testing 5G networks. AT&T says it will start to roll out its 5G network as early as this year, though virtually no one will be able to use it until 5G-compatible devices land on store shelves. That's unlikely to happen before 2020.

-- CNN's Betsy Klein contributed to this report.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 593622

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1228171731
Ramsey51446875
Dakota45976452
Anoka41782439
Washington26948283
Stearns22266222
St. Louis17787304
Scott17296124
Wright16082140
Olmsted1325598
Sherburne1173087
Carver1050745
Clay816392
Rice8063107
Blue Earth751541
Crow Wing666290
Kandiyohi656283
Chisago601351
Otter Tail575478
Benton571697
Goodhue478572
Douglas468575
Mower466232
Winona455050
Itasca439156
McLeod424559
Isanti422464
Morrison419660
Nobles408048
Beltrami397059
Steele388715
Polk384868
Becker380953
Lyon361051
Carlton345654
Freeborn342029
Pine329022
Nicollet326243
Brown305440
Mille Lacs305053
Le Sueur292423
Todd282432
Cass273428
Meeker256640
Waseca236322
Martin230732
Roseau209419
Wabasha20613
Hubbard190041
Dodge18513
Renville180343
Redwood174337
Houston171916
Cottonwood165823
Fillmore156510
Wadena155922
Pennington153719
Faribault152419
Chippewa152338
Kanabec144726
Sibley143810
Aitkin135036
Watonwan13289
Rock128319
Jackson121812
Pipestone115926
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11056
Murray10639
Swift105618
Stevens91411
Marshall88117
Clearwater86916
Koochiching83615
Wilkin81612
Lake81120
Lac qui Parle75322
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5788
Mahnomen5539
Norman5399
Unassigned49293
Kittson48622
Red Lake3977
Traverse3705
Lake of the Woods3253
Cook1640

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 367236

Reported Deaths: 5940
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57666626
Linn20892335
Scott20060241
Black Hawk15824308
Woodbury15138228
Johnson1449183
Dubuque13380208
Dallas1118398
Pottawattamie11132168
Story1062348
Warren577988
Clinton555893
Cerro Gordo540689
Sioux514474
Webster512293
Marshall483075
Muscatine481399
Des Moines458066
Wapello4303122
Buena Vista424840
Jasper419372
Plymouth401280
Lee376055
Marion362875
Jones299057
Henry291937
Carroll285752
Bremer284860
Crawford266240
Boone265034
Benton256655
Washington254050
Dickinson248543
Mahaska230451
Jackson222142
Clay215725
Kossuth215564
Tama209871
Delaware209741
Winneshiek196835
Page192722
Buchanan191432
Cedar190023
Hardin185643
Fayette185141
Wright184737
Hamilton180049
Harrison179673
Clayton169556
Butler165034
Madison162519
Mills162422
Floyd161142
Cherokee158938
Lyon158241
Poweshiek154934
Allamakee151451
Iowa148824
Hancock148434
Winnebago142531
Cass138654
Calhoun138513
Grundy136333
Emmet134240
Jefferson132435
Shelby131137
Sac130419
Union128333
Louisa128149
Appanoose128049
Mitchell126442
Chickasaw124116
Guthrie121530
Franklin120721
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112823
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100224
Unassigned9710
Keokuk96031
Monroe95329
Ida90435
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis83024
Monona82730
Osceola78716
Greene77710
Lucas77223
Worth7478
Taylor66012
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Ringgold55824
Van Buren55818
Wayne53923
Audubon51010
Adams3384
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