Do we need 5G networks?

Do we need 5G networks?
The Big Four, made up by Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, have all made it clear that they're very serious about the next generation of mobile telecommunication technology, widely referred to as 5G. Hell, the likes of T-Mobile say that, if lucky, theirs will be the first infrastructure of its kind to go online—likely at some point beyond 2020.

On paper, 5G sounds pretty amazing, with carriers promising up to 10Gbps of raw speeds. In simpler terms, that's around 1.25GB of data downloaded per second. Compared that to the theoretical 300Mbps with 4G LTE, or data speeds of about 37MB per second. An incredible difference, and a sure way to get geeks salivating. 

But do we need 5G speeds, even if half as good as currently projected? Don't get us wrong, we're all for faster internet—absolutely—but do you think there's a use case scenario in which you'd need download speeds as high as these? After all, Netflix recommends a data connection of 25Mbps or higher for streaming 4K UHD video, which is likely to remain the most bandwidth-intensive activity for a while going forward. Even a proper (3G) HSDPA+ can get you that.

Of course, it's important to keep in mind that there are other proposed benefits of 5G tech, such as extremely low response times (as low as 1ms) in addition to raw bandwidth. That means that not only will your apps load online content faster, but the window in between your device connecting to a given server will also drop. Thing is, such improvements can be implemented as part of the existing 4G LTE infrastructure, and there's already considerable doubt about the viability of a 5G network.

That's a lot of semi-techno talk to take in, but hopefully you've wrapped your mind around the basics. Assuming you have, do you think we really need 5G networks?

Do we need 5G networks?

Yes
54.24%
Only if a new, ultra data-intensive activity becomes commonplace
28.15%
No
17.61%

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37 Comments

1. legiloca

Posts: 1676; Member since: Nov 11, 2014

Humanity is doomed if Technology stops progressing that's for sure, so stop being doubtful about new technology if what it does is giving us a better life. *mic drop*

6. Unordinary unregistered

Now I know whoa dying first if the lights ever go out.

15. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Be careful, it could be you! lol

7. phonearenarocks

Posts: 606; Member since: Mar 26, 2015

I second you...this option is pure s**t - "Only if a new, ultra data-intensive activity becomes commonplace" - If they wait till the time that they have new ultra data insensitive activity, it will take 5 more years till they make 5G mainstream.

8. PhoneFixer unregistered

Of course I'd love to have it As long as they keep providing it for free, why not ?

16. krystian

Posts: 423; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

5G also improves coverage and will allow those who can't get good signals to get better ones. It could allow streaming gaming services due to superior latency and packet reliability methods. It's not just about speed. It has a host of improvements.

20. combatmedic870

Posts: 984; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

Let me know when the US actually meets 4g standards first.

21. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 966; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Exactly. 5-50mbps isn't the 1Gbps that 4G is supposed to have.

22. AlikMalix unregistered

Thank you!!!! The most appropriate post for this article. 4g isn't even 4g yet.

2. Barney_stinson

Posts: 672; Member since: May 30, 2016

Not at the cost of any bad radiation effect!!but 4g is enough man!!

9. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

It's enough for now but imagine things like live vr and ultra HD steaming by millions and billions. Plus, wireless is one way to fight these ridiculous home Internet monopolies in the states. With wireless infrastructure being cheaper to establish than wired, even rural places can get awesome speeds with ease.

3. tokuzumi

Posts: 1900; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Do we really need LTE? No, but LTE is very convenient. Could I get by without it? Yes (just had to, as I was using a Nexus 4 while waiting for my phone to arrive in the mail), buf it's nice to see the "LTE" in the status bar again.

4. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

its just gimmick for early adopter.. one of the carrier will brag "Me First" and the other will like "Me Too".. while the actual speed isnt that great, coverage area will be pathetic, and the price wont be cheaper than 4G.. sure I'll use it, but I wont rush it (4G and wifi coverage around here is good enough... for now)

17. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Well since not many people would have supporting phones, it actually would be awesome for early adopters. Consider this. Right now Verizon likely has roughly 70M of its 80M customers all on 4G. That means the 10M still on 3G are having it good because they have less traffic to deal with. Sometimes I switch my T-mobile phone back to 3G because less peeps are on it, clogging it up. The 4G is terrible for T-mobile. Once everyone has supporting phones, then obviously we will be back to square one. But the early adopters will have it awesome for roughly a year.

5. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I'm personally fine with 4G speeds. What we need more than anything is our unlimited data plans back.

24. AlikMalix unregistered

Never giving mine up (volunterily)!!! Probably, The only reason I'm with AT&T - they let me keep unlimited and still subsididize my phones.

28. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Dude! Are you a wizard? How the heck did you manage that?

30. AlikMalix unregistered

Not that difficult. Just make sure before they start typing anything when I upgrade my phone ,say "I want to keep my old unlimited plan!!" (Which includes subsidizing your devices on a 2 year contract).

31. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Oh, I don't have AT&T, but I was under the impression that they will allow you to keep your data plan, or subsidize your phone, but not both.

33. AlikMalix unregistered

Well it worked in September last year when I got a Note 4 from Craigslist - transferred to that phone (no changes to the plan, and then went back to iOS in couple months when I got 6s - no issues getting it subsidized and keep my unlimited. There's one trick, you gotto go to official AT&T store - not the third-party like parrot cellular, bestbuy or Apple Store, those guys are limited about what they can do.

10. hortizano

Posts: 294; Member since: May 22, 2013

It's the same ol' argument.. do we need QHD screens? do we need 6Gb of RAM? do we need VR? C'mon, just let technology advance and deal with it. They are going to charge us the cost anyways.

11. darkkjedii

Posts: 31045; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

In some instances they're needed, but for me it would be a want... I mean, why not.

23. deviceguy2016

Posts: 826; Member since: Jun 16, 2016

Agreed don't need it, than maybe all devices will have to possible copadible to 5G?? What's the cost on that?? That may mean everyone may have to buy a 5G device??? i don't see 5G anytime soon

12. Jevon5

Posts: 60; Member since: Feb 15, 2016

Sure but first can we perfect 4g and retire 3g for good

13. JMartin22

Posts: 2370; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

I wouldn't mind it. Even on this so-called 4G (LTE) network I'm getting less than 1.5 MB per second during peak hours of the day on T-Mobile and I can't even play 720p videos on YouTube without it freezing up. Maybe with "actual world usage", I can get at least 15 MB per second with 5G.

36. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

1.5MB/s is more than sufficient to stream 720p video. Something else is causing the problem, if you ask me. As for actual vs theoretical speeds, that's kind of the debate right now. The idea is, instead of investing in what is expected to be monstrously expensive infrastructure (due to the spectrum used), consumers may be better served by carriers investing in improvements to their existing LTE networks. If you, indeed, get 1.5MB/s speeds during peak hours (that's 12Mbps), then you're actually working with speeds WELL BELOW even 3G.

37. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

To make my point, I just tested my HSDPA+ (3G) connection at home, and I got 22.36Mbps downlink. I'm close to the sanitary minimum to stream 4K video through Netflix, though that's simplifying things a bit.

14. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Right now 4G sucks depending on where you live. The networks are now so crowded, that when I'm not at home, I don't even get half that data speed In order to use 5G, you'd need a supporting phone, so no rush. Just make 4G faster and we will be good to go.

18. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

I do not need faster speeds now. I need better coverage everywhere including very suburban areas. My parents happen to live at the very edge of service from all major carriers (probably all mounted on the same tower) and even with an external antenna and booster can still only make calls from certain parts of the house. So the problem is not speed it is coverage.

19. Senthilg

Posts: 49; Member since: Apr 07, 2016

It will be interesting to see if Binge on survives once 5G is in place for T-Mobile since John legere said all un-carrier announcements are permanent. Blow 10 Gig per day per customer!.lol

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