Buckle up, folks—next-gen wireless connections are coming. 5G and Wi-Fi 6 both promise extreme speeds and enough bandwidth to support homes packed with connected devices. But what exactly are these new technologies, and how will they help you build your ultimate smart home? Let’s find out.
What Is 5G Cellular?
5G is the next generation of mobile data. Currently, the most advanced mobile data standard is 4G, sometimes called 4G LTE or just LTE. 5G promises not only vastly improved speeds compared to 4G but also greater capacity and a more seamless experience. And 5G is coming sooner than you might think—the first consumer 5G devices and networks are expected to hit the market in 2019.
Initially these devices will be mostly high-end smartphones. It’s rumored that Samsung’s Galaxy S10 will incorporate 5G connectivity in some way, for example. And Chinese company Xiaomi has already released a handset with the technology built in.
After this initial wave of 5G phones comes to market, the technology will start to be incorporated into other devices, like smart home and security gear. It may even take over for your home broadband internet one day—Verizon and AT&T have already started rolling out fixed in-home 5G service in select cities, including Sacramento, CA. T-Mobile and Sprint also have plans to start rolling 5G out to select cities in early 2019.
The greater capacity of 5G will allow even the most tech-packed homes to operate seamlessly and at high speeds. You’ll be able to have all your smart home gear connected and operating while seamlessly streaming video on a smart TV and using your computer. No more planning your Netflix binges around your roommates or disconnecting your Nest Cam because it’s eating up all the bandwidth.
What Is Wi-Fi 6?
Wi-Fi 6, technically known as 802.11ax, is the next-generation Wi-Fi standard following the current 802.11ac. Wi-Fi 6, much like 5G, promises both faster speeds (up to 40%) and better performance in “dense” areas, like crowded offices. Also, like 5G, Wi-Fi 6 is expected to start hitting the market in 2019.
Just as exciting as the speed and capacity improvements are the nontechnical changes Wi-Fi 6 will bring. That’s right—you can kiss those confusing 802.whatever strings goodbye. 802.11ax will be known as Wi-Fi 6, and 802.11ac, the current standard, will be rebranded Wi-Fi 5. 802.11n, which is still in use on some budget equipment, will be Wi-Fi 4. These numbers may also appear in the software your devices use, so you can tell at a glance what type of network you’re connecting to.
As for the Internet of Things, Wi-Fi 6 will use less power than older standards, allowing for new low-power connected devices. It will also perform as much as four times faster in congested areas, according to Intel, which makes it ideal for smart homes with multiple devices running simultaneously.
How Will 5G and Wi-Fi 6 Impact Smart Homes?
These new wireless technologies will transform the way our devices communicate with each other and the way we interact with our homes and gadgets.
That might sound a little over the top, but Qualcomm, one of the leading manufacturers of smartphone processors and cellular modems, doesn’t think so, saying, “We see 5G as technology as transformative as the automobile and electricity.” That’s a pretty tall order, but it’s exciting to consider the possibilities.
Imagine Everything in Your Home Connected, All the Time
As for the future of your smart home, 5G and Wi-Fi 6 networks will combine with increasing broadband speeds and gigabit availability to provide faster internet to your home, allowing you to add more smart devices without compromising wireless performance.
These speeds mean you won’t have to worry about lag on smart TVs or with streaming devices. Using your network to stream TV, movies, and music can clog your internet’s bandwidth, but 5G and Wi-Fi 6 can increase each device’s ability to operate seamlessly in the background with no impact on your other online tasks. As networks get faster and better able to handle more connections simultaneously, this setup is the future we’re moving toward.
Faster connections mean better communications between security devices like smart security cameras and home security hubs. You won’t have to worry about how many devices and sensors are connected to the network and whether they’ll impact performance or compromise your security.
These new wireless standards mean exciting possibilities for the future, both for the promise of better mobile connections and for the new smart home capabilities they’ll enable. 2019 is shaping up to be a great year for tech fans and smart home enthusiasts.