Like any other state, tech enthusiasts within Maine have been enraptured by the arrival of 5G mobile systems. For most users, however, questions remain regarding how 5G will rollout, and what it could accomplish. Still far from commonplace, this new technology has some big steps to take before it can catch up to the ubiquity and coverage of its older 3G and 4G cousins.
What Is 5G?
Simply put, 5G stands for the fifth generation of mobile connective technology. Referring to online data, 5G is up to a hundred times faster than its predecessor 4G, though it does come with some major limitations. The most significant of these relate to a much smaller radius of access per tower when compared to prior generations, and a much poorer penetration of solid surfaces like walls and trees.
The first steps of 5G rollout in Maine were initially reported to begin in 2017 according to website Waveform, though it’s important to note that this was a misnomer. At that point, official definitions of 5G had not been presented, so this claim by the host company was more of a marketing ploy than a factual generational leap. This is especially obvious considering the actual first 5G rollout was recorded in April 2019, in South Korea.
Instead, the real earnest rollout of 5G in Maine only began in late 2019 in Portland. While temporary 2020 setbacks had slowed system adoption, the addition of further 5G within the city now continues. So far, Portland is still the only city in Maine with 5G, though expansion into other cities is considered by experts as inevitable.
The Maine Problem
Due to the mentioned issues of range and penetration, 5G integration within much of Maine faces major hurdles. With low population density and around 89 percent of the state covered by forest according to the USDA, 5G within our state is of somewhat limited feasibility. In many cases, 5G doesn’t have the reach. When it has the reach, in many cases it lacks the penetration.
Because of these problems, don’t be surprised to see 4G tower production become far more common that 5G placement in the coming years, especially in rural areas. It should be noted that this is hardly a negative development, as in many situations 5G is still not useful for the average person.
For an illustration of this, consider the most common uses of mobile technology such as watching videos and light entertainment experiences. For videos, 5G is only really necessary for those wanting to stream mobile video of 4K resolution. Given how small mobile screens are, users chasing this ideal are rare, with the standard 1080p resolution videos still playing perfectly on 4G.
When it comes to playing video games online, games likes Fortnite or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will continue to run smoothly on a 4G connection as multiplayer isn’t data intensive. Similarly, online betting systems like those from William Hill also work on existing 4G or even older connections as they don’t require much bandwidth to run efficiently. Whether playing games like slots or bingo to placing sports bets 5G, in these instances, is nothing short of massive overkill. In short, for most existing uses, 4G can easily meet demands.
A Matter of Futureproofing
So why, if 4G works so well, are we pushing for 5G at all? The best answer to this question is that we want to be able to futureproof coming mobile online experiences. True, most users today couldn’t get the most out of what 5G has to offer, but then that’s what mobile users often thought of 4G when it rolled out just over a decade ago. 5G is fast, it’s safe, and it’s the future, it’s just a matter of when.
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