In 2020, many of us utilize the internet on a near-constant basis. But that doesn’t mean everyone has this luxury — nor does everyone benefit from having the same level of secure capacity connectivity. There’s a lot of discussion about whether 5G wireless internet could replace fiber optic networks like broadband. But is that a realistic goal? And are there some potential drawbacks to this idea? In today’s post, we’ll explain some of the main differences between broadband fiber optic internet and 5G wireless connections and talk about whether 5G could replace the need for broadband altogether.
First, let’s discuss one of the most familiar methods of accessing the internet: broadband. With a broadband connection, you’re always able to be online (in contrast to older dial-up connections). While you can use a few different methods to access broadband internet, fiber optic internet has emerged as the leader. Over the past five years, fiber capacity has increased; in fact, the fiber optic cable manufacturing industry has grown by 11.8%. That’s largely because broadband internet is fast and fairly accessible. Fiber optic broadband connections are among the speediest options available and provide the secure capacity connectivity that customers have come to expect.
However, broadband isn’t perfect. Although it offers impressive speeds and the kind of secure capacity connectivity many customers are after, it’s not always available in all areas — especially in spots that are rural or otherwise remote. What’s more, fiber optic broadband connections require the use of cables. For some, that can make it more difficult to use the internet on-the-go or in a way that fits their lifestyle. As a result, customers may look for alternatives that won’t tie them down or place limits on their ability to access the internet.
Wireless internet is another popular option for secure capacity connectivity, but it often requires the use of a router. However, there are now wireless internet options that can be used via mobile devices, thus eliminating the need for a traditional wireless internet setup. One of those options is 5G (or fifth-generation cellular wireless) internet. Every U.S. mobile carrier has now launched some type of 5G cellular network, which makes it possible for someone who has only a cell phone or smart device to gain access to speedy internet.
Some of the benefits of 5G include speed, responsiveness, and even the ability to connect more than one device to its network. And because 5G internet options can provide greater connectivity in areas that might otherwise place limitations on access or reliability, using this type of connection is appealing to many consumers. What’s more, some providers have already launched 5G internet options specifically for residential use, allowing customers to replicate the high-quality connection on their phones for their home usage.
That said, you’ll still need to use a receiver for this type of service — and that means an increase in electrical usage within your home. In addition, the speed of 5G isn’t always what it seems to be. And since 5G signals can also be interrupted due to external factors, this might not be a completely reliable option as of yet.
Could 5G Replace Broadband Connectivity?
While it’s true that widespread 5G use could address some of the shortcomings experienced with other types of internet connections, the reality is that 5G is still relatively new on the scene and needs to be improved before it could truly replace any type of broadband connection. It’s also worth noting that some groups may be opposed to a nationwide 5G network due to health concerns; although there’s no proof that 5G uses any negative health effects, it may be an uphill battle to convince some that these networks pose no harm to the public.
In other words, there are some major barriers that stand in the way of widespread implementation of 5G networks. And while 5G could solve certain issues, the reality is that those who depend on heavy internet usage may prefer the secure capacity connectivity that broadband connections provide. In essence, these two types of networks will probably need to work together — rather than in opposition — to ensure that everyone can access the internet they need.