10G vs 5G: What’s the Difference?

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10G vs 5G – you may have heard of these terms before. But while the names of these two technologies may be similar, they have two very different meanings. 

In fact, some may be surprised to learn that the “G” signifies something different in each. The G in the cellular industry’s 5G means “generation”, while the G in the cable industry’s 10G means “gigabit”. 

But, despite their differences, both 5G and 10G have the same objective – to provide seamless connectivity that is fast, reliable, and secure.

What is 10G?

In 2019, broadband innovators announced their plans for the 10G platform, a combination of technologies that, when launched, will deliver internet speeds that are 10 times faster than today’s networks.. 

While 10G, which stands for 10 gigabits per second (Gbps), speeds are far in excess of what many home networks require today, they will make sure networks are prepared to handle whatever future technologies are around the corner. In addition, 10G will provide networks with greater security, more reliability, lower latency (lag times) and more capacity to meet future connectivity demands.

Progress towards 10G is well underway as demonstrated by a recent CableLabs event which showcased how these superfast speeds are being engineered. Additionally, demonstrations by Charter and Comcast accomplished speeds over 8 Gbps and gave a peek into how cable Internet Service providers (ISPs) will deliver multigigabit speeds.

As the 10G future gets closer, it is important to note how this new technology works with, and how it is critical to, the 5G mobile networks that are rolling out across the country.

What is 5G?

5G stands for fifth generation, because 5G is the fifth generation of the cellular technology our mobile phones use. Before 5G, there was: 

  • 1G: Supported voice only calls (1980s)
  • 2G: Introduced digital voice (early 1990s)
  • 3G: Offered mobile data alongside the early production of smartphones (early 2000s)
  • 4G: Ushered in mobile broadband (2010s)

Now with 5G, we have even further upgraded bandwidth and speeds that are available on mobile data networks.

But these upgrades would not be possible without wired networks like those operated by ISPs. In fact, the vast majority of the wireless data we transmit ultimately travels across a wired broadband network. Without wired networks, mobile networks would slow down and have difficulty delivering broadband speeds. 

How does 5G work?

5G data carried between mobile devices takes a journey that involves several steps. 

When you make a call or send data through your mobile device, it first makes a short trip on wireless frequencies to a nearby cell tower, which itself is connected to other towers via a wired broadband network. The data spends most of its journey traveling through these wired networks, utilizing the robust infrastructure that ISPs have been investing in for decades. Then, once the data has traveled across a network it reaches another tower, where it is then relayed over wireless frequencies again to another mobile device. 

To put it short, both mobile and wired networks work hand in hand to quickly and securely transport data across networks, without any interruption to the user.

To learn more about the technology advancements that power 10G and what the platform can do, be sure to head over to the 10G website and read some past articles on the future of broadband.