Editor’s Note: This week, The Bleeding Edge is highlighting one of the biggest trends on our radar: the rollout of the 5G networks. As Jeff says, 5G isn’t just evolutionary; it’s revolutionary. For three days, we’ll be spotlighting the investment potential of 5G with special morning editions of The Bleeding Edge. Here’s day one: the evolution of a wireless network.
As a reader of The Bleeding Edge, you’re likely already familiar with the historic implications of 5G.
As I’ve been writing in these pages, 5G represents an exponential leap in wireless network technology. And it will be one of the biggest investment opportunities this decade.
But for newer readers and longtime readers looking for a refresher, let’s go back to the very beginning…
What is 5G? And why is it so essential?
Evolution of a Network
If you have a modern smartphone in the U.S. – or the developed world, for that matter – it’s likely that you’re using a fourth-generation (4G) wireless network. About once every 10 years, the world goes through a major wireless infrastructure build-out.
In the 1990s, it was second-generation (2G) technology. In the 2000s, it was third-generation (3G) technology. And in the 2010s, it’s been fourth-generation (4G) wireless technology.
4G led to an explosion in mobile data usage. It enabled companies like Uber, Snapchat, Google Maps, and Facebook Messenger to become regular parts of daily life. Deployed in the 2010s, 4G had a significant increase in data bandwidth.
It enabled internet browsing and streaming of high-quality video as well as voice over IP technology (basically, free phone calls anywhere in the world using services like Skype or any kind of messaging application).
Most of us can’t imagine our lives without these now “basic” features at our fingertips.
But all of the additional functionality of 4G came with a cost.
The chart above shows the amount of data and voice traffic transmitted over the world’s wireless networks since the first quarter of 2014. And it shows the exponential growth in demand for sending and receiving data (like images, music, and websites) over wireless networks.
The amount of voice traffic (in gray) has been roughly constant over the last five years. But what’s striking is that data (in blue) has exploded. In the first quarter of 2019, nearly 30 exabytes of data were transmitted per month. This almost doubled from the start of 2018.
An exabyte is equivalent to 100,000 times all the printed material in the Library of Congress. All the words ever spoken by human beings can be contained in five exabytes. It’s hard to get your head around.
So what does this mean for internet users?
Have you had a dropped call in the last 12 months? Or how about when you dial a number and someone picks up, but you can’t hear them? Has the internet been slow to download a web page? Can’t seem to download or send your email?
These issues are almost always due to network congestion. Just like when there’s a traffic jam on a highway and the cars aren’t moving… there can be too much data on a wireless network – and the digital packets of information just can’t get to where they are intended to go.
The problem is compounded by the growth of other technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), which is bringing “connectivity” to everything from your toothbrush to your doorbell.
So how does 5G solve this problem?
5G to the Rescue
As I’ve been showing you in these pages, speeds on a 5G network will be as high as 1 Gbps (gigabit per second), which will be 100 times faster than what a consumer experiences today with 4G. And our recent 5G speed test confirms that those speeds are very real.
With that kind of speed, you’ll be able to download a two-hour movie in 10 seconds. Dropped phone calls and slow-loading web pages will be things of the past.
And there will effectively be no latency (delay) over 5G networks. Latency will drop by 99% from more than 100 milliseconds down to a mere millisecond.
And 5G-enabled smartphones will be able to send and receive data and information through four separate antennas through the wireless network.
Ultimately, 5G isn’t just evolutionary. It’s revolutionary.
And it will enable other equally amazing technologies. With self-driving cars or remote surgeries, for example, you’re going to want extremely low latencies. It will be the difference between life and death.
And 5G will deliver.
Check your inbox tomorrow morning for the next part of our special 5G series. I’ll show you how the 5G network build-out is unfolding in three phases.
And I hope you can join me this Thursday, August 22, at 8 p.m. ET. On that day, I’ll be hosting my 5G investment summit, The Final Phase of the 5G Boom.
During the free event, I’ll share my method for picking the best small-cap 5G stocks. I’ll even give you the name of a small 5G company to add to your watchlist. Reserve your spot right here.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge