To 5G or Not to 5G

posted on Apr. 09, 2019, at 9:00 a.m.

NKBA Staff

Will 5G Replace the Wires or Wi-Fi in the Kitchen? By Ed Wenck, CEDIA

Short answer: It could, but …

Longer answer: … that’s really not a good idea.

You’ve likely heard the term 5G, whether via a newscast or even an advertising pitch if you live in a 5G test market.

So, what is it? And can it replace the cables, wires, router and modem in your home?

For starters, the “G” in “5G” stands for “generation” – literally, the fifth generation of cell technologies.

First, the upside: the frequencies used by 5G are incredibly fast and offer very low latency. (Latency is any kind of delay in transmitting or processing. Frustrating when you’re trying to see that funny cat video on Facebook; very problematic if you’re trying to get a look at the image from your video doorbell in a hurry.) The problem? The distances those signals can travel are a problem for the cell companies.

The proposed solution? Eric Bodley of the firm Future Ready Solutions explains the residential deployment scenario: “They’re taking this down to a micro-localization level. The idea is, ‘We’re just going to put a little cellular hotspot in your house’ – and that makes me a little nervous.” (Think of that router and modem rig in your home turning into a tiny little cell tower communicating with a bunch of other tiny little towers in your neighbors’ homes.)

“The next thing that some developers seem to be saying: ‘You don’t need a local area network (LAN) anymore, you’re just going to route everything through cellular,’” adds Bodley. The immediate concern here? With current technology, that’s a less secure proposition than a good old LAN.

To be sure, though, 5G offers some incredible upside: areas of the U.S. that have terrible (if any) internet service will have the chance to join the connected world, and 5G can ensure that, say, crash avoidance systems are vastly more effective when autonomous vehicles become available and are communicating via 5G signals. And, if you one day decide to purchase a fridge that can tell you when you’re out of milk, that message will be sent to your smartphone pretty darn quickly.

Kitchen and bath designers and remodelers looking to collaborate with CEDIA integrators who can offer solutions and deeper explanations of smart-home communications can find local experts at www.cedia.com.

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