5G will finally get its U.S. spotlight with the expected debut of Apple’s next-generation iPhones on Tuesday. However, the faster speeds 5G of which is capable will not materialize for most people right away.
The device, dubbed the iPhone 12 by analysts, can tap into 5G, or fifth generation wireless technology, that theoretically operates as much as 10 to 20 times faster than current 4G wireless networks.
Current 5G U.S. networks mostly use low-band wireless spectrum, or airspace, that is slower than high-band spectrum, but more reliable over longer distances. It will likely take years before the massive speed boost phone carriers promise will make augmented reality and real-time cloud gaming seamless.
Several U.S. telecom operators have deployed networks based on lower spectrum bands, with slightly higher speeds than 4G. A noticeably faster variant of “mid-band” 5G is also being rolled out, but it is unlikely to reach three-quarters of Americans until 2025, estimated longtime Apple analyst Gene Munster of venture capitalist firm Loup Ventures.
The fastest speeds touted by carriers are a type of 5G called millimeter Wave, or mmWave, that work over shorter distances. Verizon Communications Inc has the largest current mmWave network, available only in limited areas.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple will have to keep people’s expectations in the proper range, but even slower 5G (30-250 megabits per second) has the advantages of being more robust in capacity and lower in latency. Mid-band 5G allows for speeds of 100-900 Mbit/s, with each cell tower providing service up to several miles in radius. This level of service is the most widely deployed. mmWave can deliver over a gigabit per second, but have a short range and are therefore most likely to be used in places like sports stadiums, convention centers, and hotels.