What Will 5G Mean for Rural America?

by James Dykes
July 16, 2019 • 1 minute read

You’ve probably heard about 5G cell phones.  What’s 5G—and what does it mean for farmers and others living in rural areas?

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the new 5G (fifth generation) cellular technology will provide upwards of 1,000 times faster internet speeds and 100 times less latency than its predecessor, 4G.

The expected capabilities of 5G cellular network technology are remarkable, with applications ranging from telemedicine remote robotic surgeries in rural areas to increased functionality of automated self-driving vehicles, remote control of equipment and farm machine-to-machine computing.

5G will also enable mobile cloud computing. This technology is based on the idea of anyone and everyone accessing their software, movies, photos and music at any time from any device.

But if you live in rural America are you included in this pool of anyone and everyone?

When it comes to mobile cloud computing, two components play a role in your connectedness. One is your mobile device. The other is the available network in your particular location.

Ag and rural lifestyle marketers have known for years that folks living in rural areas of the country have adopted smartphone technology similar to their consumer counterparts. However, one differentiator for rural residents is the available network.

People living off the beaten path still struggle with connecting to the internet using capricious satellite services, dead zone-littered 4G network access and copper telephone line digital delivery. Can 5G solve this issue with data connectedness?

Many telecommunications companies have been preaching that in the next five years, 5G will help solve rural America’s internet problem. I’m a little hesitant to jump on this bandwagon, though. 5G technology requires a massive amount of infrastructure before it can be fully implemented, which I suspect will be a significant obstacle.

In conclusion, it is astounding to think about how 5G will affect life in rural areas, through everything from farm equipment communications to seamlessly streamed virtual reality. However, the implementation of the network is needed first.

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