5G has been rolled out in several countries around the world. The United States, South Korea and China were some of the first to benefit from the new technology and, as of 2020, Canada has joined them.
The 5G rollout began in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal for customers of Rogers. As of March 2020, customers in those cities who subscribe to the Rogers Infinite service and who have a 5G compatible phone can take advantage of the benefits it offers.
Some other mobile operators began switching on their 5G masts in June, with both Telus and Bell offering 5G to customers in Montreal and several other Canadian cities in the first stage of their rollout.
So what benefits can Montreal citizens expect from the switching on of 5G in their city? Let’s take a look.
Faster Download Speeds
The technology that goes into 5G has three major advantages over 4G LTE. The first is faster download speeds, the second is increased bandwidth, and the third is low latency. For the average consumer, it’s the faster download speeds that they’ll notice most.
It means you’ll get fiber broadband speeds on your smartphone. Entire movies will download in seconds instead of minutes, and you’ll notice a distinct benefit from having to wait less for webpages to load.
However, 5G is much more than just slightly faster download speeds.
The Internet of Things
Currently, the internet is mainly made up of people and the devices they use. In the future, the “Internet of Things” will grow, incorporating sensors in many everyday objects like street lights, roads, buildings and even cars. They’ll need the extra bandwidth that 5G has to be able to connect, as 4G doesn’t have the capacity.
Together, these sensors and devices will be used to create what’s called “big data”, which will allow for the layouts of roads, buildings and more to be optimized more efficiently. This type of technology is already used in casinos, where they use machines, loyalty cards, cameras and sensors to build up profiles on customers and offer them rewards and incentives.
The Internet of Things has the potential to make our lives more efficient and reduce our environmental impact.
It’s hard to imagine a world where we can’t stream just about any movie or TV show we want, on practically any device, and it be available on demand. Streaming has taken over our lives in about a decade, and there are large numbers of Montrealers who couldn’t live without their Netflix subscription.
Streaming 4K isn’t overly practical on the current 4G LTE infrastructure, as the speeds don’t allow for a smooth streaming experience. With 5G, speeds of up to 10 Gbs, around 100 times faster than 4G, will make 4K streaming a breeze.
To benefit from the improved picture quality, you’ll need a smartphone with 4K compatible screen. Thankfully, most of the 5G models on the market today have a high enough resolution.
The low latency element of 5G offers benefits in many areas, including the possibility of remote surgical procedures. For the average Montrealer, the most immediate benefit will be in online video games.
Lag, when an online video game becomes jerky, is a gamer’s worst nightmare. In the worst case, it can result in victory or loss. In the best, it can just worsen the playing experience. It’s caused by high latency, which is the time it takes for information to begin transmitting. Gamers usually measure it by conducting a “ping test”, with a lower number being better.
4G has a latency of around 50 ms, while 5G can reduce this to as low as 1 ms. Playing video games via 5G will prevent rage-inducing moments in first-person shooters where your connection drops and you get killed, and in racing games where a car flies across the track because of lag.
Unless you’re a gamer, or want to stream movies in the highest possible quality, 5G may not be overly important to start with. Over time though, new technologies will emerge that will offer previously unimaginable benefits to our lives that will only be possible because of 5G.