Gearing up for 5G

Business ramifications of the mobile data speed revolution

What is 5G and why do we need it?

Wireless technology has come a long way since its humble beginnings, starting with analogue 1G in the early 90s, when only simple phone calls were possible between subscribers. With 2G came the ability to send text-only messages, and with the third and fourth generations (3G and 4G) we could do everything under the sun through our smartphones. Today we can download and upload rich media formats including pictures, audio and video on our mobiles, use VoIP, browse the web, send/receive email and even shop.

Mobile 5G stands for the fifth generation of cellular connectivity, which is expected to be gradually rolled out starting in 2020. We explore what 5G will bring and what its projected impact on future wireless systems is.

How does 5G work?

5G is based on the foundation created by 4G LTE, which is the fastest and most consistent type of 4G connectivity available today. With 5G, we get to keep all 4G functionality, though mobile operations are going to dramatically speed up in terms of data transfer (both uploading and downloading).

Whenever a new mobile wireless technology is introduced, it is assigned a higher radio frequency than those before it. 4G currently occupies the bands up to 20MHz, and when 5G is rolled out, it will most likely occupy even higher bands going all the way up to 40, 150 and 700MHz. In the UK, higher spectrum bands are already being allocated through auctions.

In parallel, associations of global telecom providers are working on establishing worldwide standards to govern the implementation and management of 5G. Although guidelines haven’t been agreed to and finalized yet, telco experts predict 5G will be backwards compatible with 3G and 4G and somewhat interoperable; of course, we’re yet to see how this will pan out.

What makes 5G better than 4G?

With speeds of up to 10 GB per second, 5G technology is slated to provide mobile data speeds faster than some of the most rapid home broadband networks currently in place in Europe. Present-day top 4G networks can deliver peak download speeds of 300 Mbit/second.

5G would improve wireless networks in several areas:

  • 1. Quicker response time: loading times slowing you down? You won’t be dragged down by slow response times with 5G anymore as it will be as much as 100 times faster than 4G. 
  • 2. Faster data transfer: Ultra HD and 3D video will be like child’s play on 5G and the difference in user experience will be significant.  You’ll be able to not just stream but download an entire HD movie in less than 10 seconds on 5G. 
  • 3. Higher number of connected devices: Due to its expanded frequency spectrum, 5G will allow an increasing number of connected devices to join the network, without experiencing issues in overloaded or dropped connections. Given the rate of proliferation of mobile devices globally, this will be an important consideration in the years to come. 
  • 4. Edge computing gets better: The faster speeds and low latency data transfers possible on 5G-connected edge devices will further propel the transition towards edge computing.

Getting ready for 5G

While 5G isn't expected to enter cellular networks for a few more years, an increasing number of companies are now making investments in preparation for the new mobile wireless standard, which will noticeably improve our entire mobile experience, Countries like Japan, China, South Korea and the U.S. are projecting that they will be ready to launch 5G in late 2018, though, in most markets its rollout will not start before 2020.

Cellular model suppliers are all racing to launch new 5G modems, and the competition in that space is expected to pick up as we get closer to the launch of 5G. What this means for businesses and advertisers is that consumer appetite for online video and rich media will only increase further, once their cellular connectivity has been supercharged.

What about 6G?

Telecommunications experts forecast that if we get 5G right, we will not even need 6G.  Up to now, mobile data technologies were built around hardware; thus, advances were slow and expensive. 5G, on the other hand, will be entirely software-driven, and software can be updated quickly and easily.

The future is looking bright and lighting fast thanks to the new model of cellular connectivity that has us impatiently looking forward to 2020 and beyond.

Copywriter: Ina Danova

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