What to expect from 5G
With each new generation of cellular technology comes fresh excitement and anticipation. Mobile 5G, or 'fifth generation,' is the latest development soon to hit Europe. But what makes 5G different from the other generations, and is it really going to be worth the wait? We take a look at 5G in more detail to find out.
What is 5G?
Mobile 5G is the latest in a line of cellular technology developments - 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G. From the text message revolution of 2G, the ability to transmit data with 3G to the improved stability of 4G, mobile technology has evolved rapidly.
To meet the standards established by the IEEE 802.11ac standard of broadband technology, 5G connections should be based on:
- Business models
- Management and operations
- Enhanced services
- System performance
- User experience
In a nutshell, this latest generation of wireless technology promises to build on the pattern set by its predecessors - with increased speed and data handling capability to improve communication across wireless networks.
What are the key features of 5G?
It's rumored that 5G will be so revolutionary that there will be no need for a 6G. But what makes 5G so impressive?
- The ability to download and run more complex mobile
- Less of a lag between machine communications, or
reduced latency. 5G promises almost instant sending and receipt of signals.
- Internet speeds almost 100 times faster than 4G. This
means a user on a 5G network could download a High-Resolution movie within
around 5 seconds.
- It's hoped that 5G will actually make the need for
wired networks obsolete for the most part.
- Improved network coverage and range.
- Improved battery life and security features.
- Growth of the IoT (Internet of Things) - more on this
The Internet of Things and 5G
The Internet of Things is more than simply everything connected to the internet. It's about devices and objects which talk to each other - from fitness bands to smart thermometers. These smart devices all gather and exchange data which then allows for an action at the end.
From monitoring your home temperature via your smartphone, to syncing fitness bands with smartphone apps, we've entered a whole new world of connectivity. This has obvious benefits for industry, manufacturing and construction, whereby processes can be streamlined and productivity improved by directing staff and resources where they're needed most.
How does 5G fit into this? 5G promises to facilitate and improve remote access between all smart devices, allowing for devices to communicate over different network types across the world. For example, this could mean remote healthcare monitoring or sensor-driven traffic control.
5G is nothing but ambitious in scope - and the challenges are considerable:
- Low wavelengths due to 5G's high frequencies mean signals will struggle
to penetrate solid obstructions such as walls and trees.
- Hot spots will vary in size, particularly as each
carrier adopts a different means of rolling out 5G coverage.
- There needs to be investment into systems capable of handling a prolific surge
There's going to be a real issue of too little radio spectrum available for 5G coverage, at least in the short to medium-term. It's also unlikely that ordinary end users will ever need the full benefits offered by 5G coverage, and so it's questionable whether this spectrum will ever be made available to large areas.
Do we need 5G?
Arguably, most of us won't ever use 5G to its fullest potential. It's difficult, then, to see the financial sense in investing heavily in rolling out residential and suburban 5G coverage across Europe. There's likely, however, to be a growth in products looking to capitalize on IoT growth - which in turn means we'll see a promising increase in tech companies and commerce.
But is it really necessary at the moment? Many experts estimate an initial rollout for 5G network technology in 2019 to 2020, but it's still unclear how 5G will be rolled out and how practical concerns will be addressed; it's too early to see the benefits in practice.
It's safe to say, however, that 4G coverage won't be going anywhere anytime soon.