Internet connectivity is a luxury many of us take for granted. in 2018, the Internet plays such a vital role in our everyday lives, that it’s hard to imagine a future without it. We needn’t worry, however. It looks as though Wi-Fi technology will continue to advance in the coming years, creating what the BBC refers to as “the future in which data powers everything.”
Both utopian and dystopian predictions exist of a future determined by data. However, the way for Internet connectivity is already being paved. These are just some of the advances we have to look forward to in the coming years.
While Wi-Fi might be a common feature of most of our lives, over half the earth’s population (54%) still lives without it. One goal of major tech companies for the future is bringing internet connectivity to remote, underdeveloped areas. To this end, Loon (an Alphabet Inc. subsidiary) recently announced a linked network spanning over 600 miles using seven balloons, achieving a new world record.
Using these balloons, Loon sent data packets a total of 621.3 miles, which is 20 to 30 miles greater than traditional ground-based Internet. Then, a few weeks later, Loon beat its own record, bringing Internet connectivity to 373 miles using just two balloons.
This begs the question – will widespread Internet access be the norm in the future? Loon plans to launch its service commercially next year, hoping to bring Internet connectivity to all areas without Internet infrastructure with the help of 5G.
Enhanced IoT technology
In its broadest sense, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to all devices connected to the Internet. However, it is known today as a network of physical devices, such as vehicles and home appliances, that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors and actuators that enable them to connect and exchange data.
Gartner estimates that 20 billion devices will be communicating with one another by 2020, and not just mobiles and computers. According to the study, the future will involve items like washing machines and self-driving cars that rely on Internet connectivity.
The introduction of 5G
Much like its forbearers, 3G and 4G, 5G promises faster Internet connectivity than ever before. Major network providers around the world have already begun trialling 5G networks, with the first 5G-ready smartphones set for release sometime in 2019. When it arrives, 5G will be able to handle more data and connect more devices at faster speeds – 100 times the speed of an average 4G device to be exact.
This new technology will rely on bits of the electromagnetic spectrum, rather than radio waves. This will allow 5G networks to communicate using very low and very high frequency waves for the first time in our history. Many have speculated that 5G could also be a force for equality, as everyone with Internet connectivity will have the same instant access to all the knowledge in the world.
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