Posted on Feb 28, 2021 by Chad Sylvester
5G is coming, 5G is coming….we’ve all heard the rumors. Maybe you’ve seen carrier commercials advertising 5G networks and speeds. Maybe you’ve caught a social post or forum discussion with folks commenting about 4G products soon to be outdated and irrelevant. Heck, maybe you've seen the 5G icon on your phone, because it's already here! So what does all this mean to cellular trail camera users, are 4G LTE products going to get left behind?
Not that long ago, most of us can recall the transition from 3G to 4G where as 3G was decommissioned and cellular trail cameras operating on 3G networks were rendered paperweights or at a minimum left to operate as standard SD card cameras. A lot of trail camera users were left with a bad taste in their mouths, frustrated, and quite frankly pissed off. Luckily, that does not seem to be the case for the build out of 5G networks by carriers and we’re going to walk you through the reasons why.
THE WILD WILD WEST
To understand this situation we need to take a look at how carriers approach building out their networks. Since the 90’s and throughout the early years of cellular communication, telecom has been the Wild West. It’s been a race of which carrier can offer the broadest coverage with fastest speeds without much long term thought and/or financial worry. Think of the 90's as a modern day gold rush. That mind set and business model is what has led to network technologies rolling over from first generation wireless technology to 2G then to 3G. Prior to the 4G or 4th generation wireless technology and networks, carriers had no long term vision of consistent technology and network coverage. Which is ultimately the reason why devices were left useless during new network rollouts. The technology gaps between cellular technology generations were large enough to support complete overhauls of not only cellular networks but also cellular devices. For example, the progression for cellular devices/technology can be seen below.
Those technology gaps and the mindset behind network overhauls changed with 4G LTE buildouts. Carriers finally understood the need for a longer term solution now that network speeds were fast and stable enough to support most cellular functions of mobile and connected devices. In addition, coverage was consistent enough to offer coverage for the vast majority of the US due to the last 30 years of tower infrastructure across the landscape. Technology finally reached a point to offer stability.
iOT AND BEYOND
So that brings us to the present day of 5G. What is 5th generation wireless and what is the purpose? To fully understand the objective of 5G networks, you have to understand the concept of the connected world. The internet of things or iOT, where ALL devices are plugged in to infrastructure with a massive data pool. That is the future.
Self driving vehicles, self serve consumer shops, streaming manufacturing data processes, and instantaneous medical data is all the driving force behind 5G.
5G networks consists of broader band frequencies that have the ability to move massive amounts of data, nearly instantaneous over very short distances. The key point to remember this...…fast speeds, low latency, short distances. Thus leaving the priority of 5G build outs in populated metropolitan areas through what the telecom industry labels "small cell" sites. Starting 5g network rollouts in densely populated areas is not all that different from past network rollouts. Carriers like to focus on what they call major markets….Chicago, NY City, LA, Houston, etc. and then continue to fill in the gaps between coverage after they have the majority of the population serviced. Historically, as new network rollouts are happening and when carriers would install new equipment on location they would also decommission the old equipment. This is where the BIG difference is happening with 5th generation cellular networks.
The difference between 3g to 4g and 4g to 5g is that carriers plan to leave 4g LTE networks up and running until sometime between 2030 and 2035 where dedicated 4g networks are to handle data traffic from voice calls, texts, and other low priority communications and devices. Again, going back to the solution of 4G/LTE networks offering longer term networks because of the speeds and stability of the technology.
4G LTE TRAIL CAMERAS
So what does that mean to trail camera users who are currently running 4G LTE cameras? Well in short, the impact will be next zero over the next 10 years. Most cameras simply will never last that long so existing 4G LTE cameras owners really have no concern. And for the time being with the proposed lifespan of 4G LTE networks ranging out to 2035 there is really no need for any hesitation for consumers to continue buying 4G LTE certified cellular trail cameras.
There will be a day where cellular trail camera technology transitions with additional speeds and capabilities to 5G but we are many years away from that. And ultimately it’s important to note that regardless of what module or technology is provided inside your cellular trail camera, you need to have that coverage at the camera location. With most cellular camera locations being in rural areas outside of what network carriers consider to be major markets we are all safe with 4G LTE cellular trail cameras.