It’s only halfway through 2019, and mobile broadband has already taken a huge leap forward with the launch of 5G. As the fifth generation of mobile technology, 5G is poised to introduce countless breakthroughs that will revolutionise how we live and work.
The main benefit is a drastic increase in speed. 5G is projected to eventually reach a peak speed of 10 GBs, which is more than 100 times faster than standard 4G’s 60 mbps. This means that you’ll be able to download a movie within seconds!
Complementing the speed is decreased latency, which refers to how long it takes devices to communicate with each other. Under 5G, mobile devices will receive information right away, in less than one thousandth of a second. 5G also enables more connections between devices, so IoT (Internet of Things) as a regular part of life will be more feasible.
As with all networks, factors such as location and will lead to variations in speed and connectivity, but 5G’s performance is still a drastic upgrade over 4G’s, and technology as we know it will go through huge changes.
The Start of 5G
Because 5G will be developed in stages over several years, its effects will start kicking in noticeably at around 2020 to 2022. 5G was only released for the first time in April 2019 by Verizon in the US and SK Telecom in South Korea. Since then, a few other countries have rolled out their initial versions, including the UK, and others are set to launch later this year.
In the UK, top network operators EE and Vodafone have already made 5G available in heavily populated areas. EE was the first, launching 5G on May 2019 across six cities: London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Belfast, Manchester, and Edinburg, with plans of installing in 10 more during the year. So far its speed is at 1 Gbps. Vodafone launched during July 2019, covering fifteen cities, while other operators such as Three and O2have promised to enable 5G within the next few months.
5G Innovations for the Future
We may still only be at the beginning stages of 5G, but businesses are already gearing up for exciting developments in the future.
Technology will become much more advanced, leading to increased productivity and reduced costs. It’s predicted that 5G will create as many as 22 million jobs and power the production of £7 trillion worth of goods and services across the globe by 2035.
With 5G, businesses will enjoy extremely fast wi-fi. Lags in file sharing and other digital processes will significantly decrease, and it’ll be possible to crunch through larger amounts of data in a few minutes.
Remote work may become more widespread since employees will be able to use AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) for meetings, appearing in the same simulated space even though they’re continents apart. AR and VR will also be a huge boon to healthcare, with remote surgery and physical therapy only the tip of the iceberg.
The Internet of Things will become much more common as nearly every device out there will be connected to the cloud, from drones to fridges. Smart cities will evolve, installing sensors to make the environment more adaptable, and surveillance can better track crime. On the road, self-driving cars will be able to move around easily and send data to other cars, freeing up your time and attention.
How 5G Works
Although these may seem like the stuff of sci-fi novels, these developments are very much achievable over the next decade, if not sooner. What’s moderating the pace of 5G is the required infrastructure.
Previous wireless networks have focused on the same frequency range in the electromagnetic spectrum. This is already highly congested, so 5G relies on millimetre waves, which operate on a higher range of 30 to 300 Ghz that hasn’t been commercially used before.
Although millimetre waves can process information much more quickly, they’re easily blocked by buildings and other physical objects, so they can only travel for short distances. As a result, 5G relies on small stations on top of buildings and light poles, unlike 4G with its large, high-powered cell towers. Another difference is 5G’s use of multiple input and multiple output (MIMO) antennae in one station, which allows more connections to different users.
Structurally, 5G is still quite similar to fixed broadband, except the last mile of its connection is wireless. To achieve these speeds, most of its backhaul network would have to be connected through fibre optic cabling. Fibre optic is the only cable material that can process large amounts of traffic quickly, with limitless bandwidth potential.
The 5G Revolution
5G has already arrived this 2019, but expect widespread changes to be visible a few years from now, at around 2022. At the same time, as integral as 5G will be in the future, it won’t make 3G, 4G, wi-fi, and wired networks obsolete. Rather, all of these will work together, with 5G especially ideal for IoT and other advanced technology.
Even this early on, more and more businesses are looking into transferring several of their systems to the cloud and updating their networks. 5G may be far from mainstream yet, but businesses that are 5G-ready will be poised to take advantage once the inevitable technological revolution happens.