Image Blog 5G vs 4G
July 3, 2019

5G vs 4G: What It Means for Your DevOps Team

Mobile Application Testing
Industry News

5G is the latest-generation network protocol set to deliver faster and smoother data than ever before. The new 5G network packs major speed. More importantly, though, 5G supports a larger number of connections with higher precision and lower latency compared to existing 4G networks.

 Today’s technology includes an almost-infinite number of devices and mobile apps requiring faster internet connectivity. 5G will soon take the reins and power all our increasing digital demands including futuristic cases like smart home appliances, UHD streaming, virtual reality, and connected-city safety. 

For DevOps professionals, preparing for the switch to 5G means performing some serious under-the-hood mobile app testing to ensure compatibility with older protocols, closing security loopholes, and configuring apps to harness the full power and potential of this new ultrafast network. 

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An Introduction to 5G vs. 4G

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What Is 5G?

5G isn’t a mere improvement on the 4G network. It’s a brand-new protocol altogether. You can’t just zoom over to the Play Store and update to 5G. It’s a powerful technology that requires new devices, new radio stations, and a lot of strategic planning.

Mobile carriers have already flipped the 5G switch in some major cities around the US. On a larger scale, however, the tech and mobile worlds are still fine-tuning the technology for more widespread commercial and consumer use.

Since 5G is a current buzzword, it’s important to clarify two things:

1. 5G Is Not Your 5GHz Wi-Fi at Home

This is a short-range Wi-Fi band that has been found on most wireless routers since the late 90s. 5GHz Wi-Fi refers exclusively to the speedier, shorter-ranged alternative to the 2.4GHz default band used by Bluetooth devices and even your microwave oven. 

2. 5G Is Not “Millimeter-Wave 5G”

In order to sell 5G-certified devices ahead of actual 5G availability, some mobile carriers have been marketing so-called “millimeter-wave 5G.” Don’t believe the hype. In reality, this “millimeter-wave 5G” uses the same towers as 4G and has most of the same bandwidth and device limitations as 4G (despite a slightly lower latency and 35% speed boost). 

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5G vs. 4G: The Key Differences

One of the biggest upgrades from 4G to 5G is speed. So how fast is 5G? The 5G network will be able to handle much higher volumes of complex data than existing 4G technology and do it all at speeds up to 20x faster. The key difference driving this ultrafast speed comes down one thing: radio frequencies.

4G technology uses radio frequencies below 6 GHz, while 5G operates anywhere between 30 GHz all the up to 300 GHz. What this wider range of frequencies means for consumers and their devices is less traffic, less interference, and a huge bump up in speed.

Wider channels also mean more data can be transferred in a single radio cycle. This makes many more device connections possible per square mile than current 4G technology. Consumers at home will be able to connect more of their smart devices to a network without noticing any lag or worrying about their connectivity dropping.

At a larger level, 5G supports greater interoperability and connection across platforms, smartphones, cars, businesses, homes, IoT devices, and anything using an internet connection. 

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5G and the User Experience

Besides a major boost in speed, 5G will be able to support more device connections without existing bandwidth issues. Home security cameras, smart lighting, tablets, laptops, wireless thermostats, and any other devices requiring a network connection will be able to connect and stay connected.

5G will also support faster transfers of large, complex data and media. Websites that loaded quickly in the past may even appear to load instantaneously with 5G.

What about 5G vs 4G latency? Any voice-related apps like Skype and Facetime will deliver smoother, more realistic video with less latency and choppiness. The same goes for UHD and 4K video streaming — with video traffic being one of the key factors that drove the development of 5G technology in the first place. 

Since augmented reality and virtual reality technology are becoming much more widespread, 5G will also have the horsepower to deliver a much more seamless experience. Car-to-car communication, smart traffic lights, and wireless sensors of all types will benefit from the greater speed and device capacity as well.

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5G Challenges for DevOps

Like any new technology, plenty of DevOps challenges are on the way once 5G becomes more widely available.

1. Compatibility

It will be crucial that apps have compliance with older network protocols like 4G and 3G, as well as older devices and operating systems. There are many devices on the market that aren’t 5G-certified yet. 

2. Interoperability

Apps will need architectural changes, and these will continually need to be discovered and supported as 5G technology improves. Ensuring interoperability between apps, platforms, and operating systems will be critical. 

3. Security

Closing security loopholes and vulnerabilities will be especially important as 5G-compatible apps connect to external platforms and operating systems. 

4. Coverage

Many geolocations will not be fully compliant with 5G at first. Existing 4G towers need to be updated to support the new 5G network since it uses shorter, more precise radio frequencies. This will require strategic (and costly) placement of new base station radios in order to support long-range 5G coverage.

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4G to 5G: Richer Functionality

Mobile apps and platforms must be 5G-ready, especially when it comes to quality, functionality, and network compliance with older protocols. App architecture will need to be thoroughly reviewed and changed as new 5G doors open and the technology matures.

5G will give app developers the power to create new UIs with richer functionality than ever before. But in order to keep improving app functionality and performance over time, DevOps will need to use advanced AI/ML algorithms to learn and process data across different platforms.

When it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G is the network that can support this vision. With such a high volume of devices, all requiring longer battery life, the 5G network can use intelligent switching for the type of data being requested — ensuring that internet resources are used with the greatest efficiency and power. 

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5G Is On the Way and DevOps Can Prepare

The demand for fast and flexible internet connectivity is non-negotiable in today’s digitally-dominated world. Video streaming and the multitude of wireless-ready devices demanding access to the internet have collectively been the driving force for the upcoming 5G network.

DevOps has a crucial role in ensuring that existing and future apps and devices can fully utilize the power of the new 5G technology. Apps will need to be reworked and thoroughly tested for functionality and quality as more and more consumers and businesses jump on the 5G airways in 2019 and 2020.

 From smart homes and traffic lights to virtual reality and healthcare, 5G is the next network protocol we need to power our digital world. Your DevOps team can play a major role in bringing the high-quality 5G experience to your customers.

When 5G hits the mainstream, your DevOps team needs to be ready. With Perfecto, your teams will have go-to access to test under all conditions, including 5G. Perfecto enables mobile app testing in real-world user-conditions with Perfecto’s Real User Simulation.

Be perfectly prepared for 5G. Give Perfecto a try.


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