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Here’s Why 5G May Not be Happening Anytime Soon

Despite a projected arrival date of 2020, most telecom executives and industry analysts insist that we’ve got more time to wait — a lot more.

As the technology industry produces more home appliances, security cameras, dog collars, cars, and of course, cellphones, that must access the Internet in order to operate properly, Gizmodo predicts that there will be over 20.8 billion appliances using the Internet by 2020. In order to accommodate this exponential growth, telecom engineers are working to develop 5G, an available data network that will speed up downloads and connectivity by a lot.

However, despite predictions that 5G will be available by 2020, the reality is that the enormous financial burden and complexity of finessing this transition will cause significant delays in its universal availability. There are many obstacles standing in the way of this grand-scale upgrade. Two of the most crucial hindrances are: the necessary creation of new, high-frequency radio base-stations and the immense size of the investment needed to finance the implementation of 5G.

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Modern cell-phone technology functions on a radio frequency, transmitting your voice into an electric signal which is then transmitted to the nearest cell tower in order to reach the person you’re trying to call. 4G operates on a higher frequency than 3G, so naturally, 5G is looking at operating on the highest frequency yet. In order to achieve this, there would need to be a much higher number of available base-towers, so that the amount of cell users per tower would be proportionally divided with fewer people using one specific base at a time.

Right now, there are simply not enough base-towers with a strong enough spectrum of bandwidth. According to Mike Fries, of Liberty Global’s Virgin Media, it could cost taxpayers in England over 740 million pounds just to finance the equipment and licenses needed to create a sufficient radio spectrum.

Furthermore, Fries said that consumers are increasingly expecting to see low-priced smartphones and mobile devices on the market, which is stalling industry growth and keeping telecom and wireless operators from having enough funding to pursue establishing widely accessible 5G.

Peter White, Founder and Analyst at Rethink Tech Research, also spoke of the issue of “cell phone commodification,” stating that consumers now view the handheld phone as a daily appliance, as commonplace as a microwave, refrigerator, or car. Adversely, a cellphone with 5G connection would cost nearly $1,800 to build at the moment, and without the proper industry mergers and subsidized funding, 5G is simply too expensive. Both gave 2030 as a more likely estimate for 5G’s arrival.