President Trump likes to count. It doesn’t really matter what he’s counting, he just likes the American people to know that he can do it. This could explain why, a few weeks ago, he decided to utilize his astute arithmetic proclivity to declare that he wants 5G and 6G technology in the U.S. as soon as possible.
Again, he probably just wanted to count out loud and needed to find a formal declaration to show off his skills, but really, who knows what goes on in that trans fat-addled brain?
So, uh… what’s he talking about?
Well, considering there’s a very good chance he’s not sure what he’s talking about, we can only assume, based on several other astute interpretations, that he’s referring to the next generation of wireless technology. “Like the jump from 3G to 4G, 5G will bring with it considerably faster speeds, lower latency and increased support for more devices,” reports Time. “Compared to 4G LTE, the wireless cell technology used in smartphones today, 5G promises speeds up to 100 times faster and a response time up to 20 times faster.” In other words, when Trump says he wants 5G, he’s basically referring to the fact that he wants the next generation of wireless technology to be readily available as soon as possible.
That… actually sounds pretty reasonable and good? So what’s the problem here?
For one, it’s not even close to being ready yet. “Nobody is going to go straight to the 5G standard; in fact, last year they finally started using the [full] 4G set of rules,” Doug Dawson, owner of CCG Consulting, told GovTech.com in 2018. “We will start seeing some radios as soon as next year with a little bit of 5G in them, but they will just be improved 4G. It takes them about seven years on average to implement the standards.”
Wait, before we go any further, where did all this “G” talk come from in the first place?
First, it’s important to note that the “G” stands for generation. According to the same GovTech.com report, wireless phone technology technically started with 1G phones — that just allowed the user to make a phone call — in the early 1990s. “As cellphone capabilities expanded, the technology went through a 2G iteration that allowed for both text and phone conversations,” per their report. “What followed was 3G, which gave consumers the opportunity to make phone calls, send texts and browse the Internet. The current generation of phone technology is 4G, which just enhanced and sped up many of the capabilities of 3G. Added to this was long-term evolution, or LTE, which made cellphones that much faster and more consistent.”
So when can we expect to see this sweet 5G technology explode out of our wireless devices?
Maybe by next year, sort of. “Developing an international standard for the 5G network is likely to be a herculean task tangled in red tape, but the deadline in sight is 2020,” reported Motherboard back in 2016. “Japan would like to have 5G up and running by 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, as would South Korea for the 2018 Games.”
Ironically, per the same Motherboard article, most of Trump’s supporters are going to have to wait a bit longer than the rest of us to get access to this new wireless technology. “Because of these infrastructure requirements, 5G will most likely be rolled out in densely populated cities first,” reports Motherboard. “Short-range signals aren’t great for servicing rural areas; instead, 5G may fill in the last bits to supplement a fiber internet backbone, and will need to be compatible with low and mid-range spectrum bands as well as 4G and 3G networks.”
Okay, but if 5G is still a couple years away, why is The Donald even talking about 6G?
This, average guy, is the right question, albeit with a funny but fairly disappointing answer. According to the same Time article, the issue with trying to predict a 6G release date is that technically speaking, it has yet to even be formally named. “While that will most likely be the name given to the next logical step in the advancement of cellular technology, no such standard has been defined, and any talk of 6G is purely theoretical at this point — we’re only just starting to deploy 5G, after all,” reports Time.