Article by: Rom Villarica
Illustration by: Sung Hee Bae
The evolution of telecommunications technology is a topic of great relevance in modern society; we live in a world that is defined by how quickly, how clearly, and most importantly, how efficiently we can talk to one another. More than ten years ago, the invention of 3G (3rd Generation Mobile Network) in 2001 brought about a new era in communications in unprecedented capability and speed. Ever since then, 3G has become a staple of cellular technology. Next, 4G, released in 2009, is at least a hundred times faster than 3G. And 5G, which is yet to be released, is slated to be even faster. The network requirements of 5G are defined as “1 Gigabit per second of cellular data to be offered simultaneously to dozens of workers on the same floor”- this is ten times faster than 4G’s requirements of “100 Megabits per second of cellular data”.
Many companies want to be the first to jump on the 5G bandwagon for the potential revenue it offers. A prime example of this is Chinese telecom equipment vendor Huawei, which stated in November 2013 that it would invest $600 million in research for 5G technologies over the next five years. With such immense interest from major companies, it is clear that we can expect 5G technology to grace our phones in the near future.
But, the question remains. What happens when it does? How will 5G change the world? Junior Nicholas Te believes that it is an exciting opportunity that will forever alter the way we view cellular technology, stating that “with 5G, we will be able to communicate with anyone anywhere. It will fix most of the problems associated with cellphones, such as dropped calls and poor network connection, and by doing so it will transform cellular communications into the wave of the future. We will not have to rely on computers for the majority of our online communication, as 5G will improve cellular networks to the point that we will never need to see the person we are speaking to and still enjoy crystal-clear communication.” Indeed, there is truth to this. The vast improvements introduced by 5G will ensure that cellular communication becomes much more popular.
As with all good things, though, there are downsides. Senior Lucas Ramos is particularly worried about the social implications of cellular communication becoming even more popular than it already is. “In our Computer Science class, we study the social and ethical implications of advancements in technology. Personally, the concept that talking over the phone will become so efficient that we will never need to see the other person face to face is horrifying to me, as I feel that we will lose something integral should this come to pass.”
However, in the long run, it is clear that 5G provides exciting new opportunities for society. How we choose to make use of these opportunities is ultimately up to us.