We’re on the cusp of a digital transformation that’s expected to change the way we live and work. Wireless service providers are building and launching new 5G networks to replace 4G technology for cell phone and internet service, and the upgrade is being called revolutionary. Data transfer will undergo a supersonic boost compared to what we’re getting now. That’s expected to have a big impact on every industry, including real estate.
5G stands for the fifth generation of cellular wireless technology. Cellular service providers rolled out the first generation in the 1980s and have upgraded to the next generation about every ten years. According to Realcomm which reports on real estate, technology, automation, and innovation, 5G will give us blazing fast data rates, much higher network capacity, massive device connectivity, less energy use, and lower costs. (1)
What Is 5G?
The technology will vary a bit from place to place depending on which 5G spectrum is used. There will be three of them. MacRumors says that mmWave technology will be the fastest and will likely service dense urban areas. That’s a high-band spectrum. Suburban and rural areas would probably get mid to low band 5G technology. That will be faster than 4G LTE but not as fast as the mmWave technology.
Digital Trends says that most people think of the mmWave technology when they refer to 5G because it’s the fastest. But, it also has its drawbacks with a lower coverage area and poor building penetration. There are always trade-offs!
Consumers will also need to upgrade their smartphones to 5G. Verizon is offering the new Motorola 5G Moto Mod to its customers in Chicago and Minneapolis. Samsung is about to launch its new Galaxy S10 and is taking pre-orders. MacRumors says, Apple may introduce its first 5G phone next year. So if you want to go 5G right now, it may not be with an iPhone. (2)
Where Can You Find 5G?
Major U.S. carriers Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint are working on building their 5G networks, and some 5G service has been launched in a number of cities. Verizon is offering 5G service in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis. It is planning to add 5G to another 30 cities this year. AT&T is launching 5G in 19 cities. The cities, or parts of cities, include big metros like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, along with other hot real estate markets like Orlando, Atlanta, Houston, Jacksonville, and Las Vegas. T-Mobile and Sprint, which is owned by T-Mobile, are also planning 5G roll-outs this year.
Mobile Broadband on Steroids
What, exactly, will 5G do for us? Verizon explains it like this:
“Get ready to change the way you live, work, and play. Massive bandwidth through millimeter wave spectrum, awesome speeds, and super low latency. Life on 5G will move faster than the blink of an eye, and the use cases are limitless. From autonomous vehicles, smart medical procedures, the boundaries of 5G are only limited by our imagination.” In other words, it’s a big upgrade to our cellular broadband service. Call it wireless internet on steroids.
Download and upload speeds will be 10 to 20 times as fast as they are now and will be able to accommodate more people and devices within a smaller perimeter. It will also provide much greater internet access to people in remote areas. That will have a big impact on the real estate industry as businesses move to more remote, less costly locations.
It will also promote the use of the self-driving cars because it can transmit data much faster, and that could push homebuyers farther away from big cities. As the car drives them to the office, they can be working on their laptops, and the 5G technology will make the autonomous vehicle safer. For example, if a vehicle slams on the brakes, it can relay that information quickly to other cars so they can slow down.
5G tech will also improve the function of smart devices for homes, businesses, and city infrastructure. Forbes offered an example of a city with solar-powered street lights which are monitored by a 5G network. The network would be able to monitor the streetlights for outages, and make sure they are turned on when they are supposed to be.
Ugly cables that connect internet boxes on phone poles to homes will also be eliminated. The 5G mini cell towers will be mounted on the same phone poles or on rooftops, but without the cables to homes and businesses. Not only will that improve the look of the neighborhood, it will provide more reliable service during bad weather, which can often knock down poles and wires.
But 5G will require more cell towers, and that could cause a backlash. The 5G bandwidth carries more data but is shorter, so mini cell towers will need to be mounted all over the place. Business Insider says, “To ensure a reliable 5G signal, there needs to be a lot of 5G cell towers and antennas everywhere. We’re talking on every lamppost, traffic light, etc. because even trees can block 5G signals.” (3) That could create leasing opportunities for people with rooftop space they’d like to rent out, along with opposition from neighbors.
But the benefits will be huge. As Forbes contributor, Miriam Tuerk, comments, “5G is what will really kick the Smart City infrastructure into high gear, which will revolutionize America, driving new service and industries.” It will also have a more direct impact on the real estate industry by providing near instantaneous data downloads to mobile devices. We have virtual tours now, but 5G will enhance their performance.
(1) Realcomm Article
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