As of now, 4G is the best widely available telecommunication technology available across the globe. However, its been in use for over a decade. And the biggest news is that researches have been trying to improve it for the entire decade. Now, the improvement in telecommunications technology is just at the brink and we cannot wait for it to go global.
Selected carriers had started rolling out the next generation 5G technology in select cities around two years ago. Now, it is expected to see a global rollout this year. This will put the human civilization into the 5th generation of mobile communications.
As of now, it seems like there are more questions about 5G than there are answers. Many are wondering what is 5G and how will it impact our lives. Others are waiting for 5G services to launch in their area. Some are also wondering whether their phones will be able to run on a 5G network or not. Today, we will be answering all these questions.
What is 5G?
The first question that most of you might want to ask is, what is 5G?
The answer is pretty simple, 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace or at least augment your 4G LTE connection much as 4G did to 3G almost a decade ago now.
The 5G network will bring exponentially faster download and upload speeds. This will also affect the latency/ping or in layman terms, the time taken to connect with a server in a positive manner.
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How does 5G Work?
The next question that might arise in your mind is, how does the 5G network work?
There are several factors that affect how 5G works and it is very different from how traditional networks like 4G LTE work. One of the biggest factors is the spectrum. It works on different spectrum bands, which might not seem important to a layman, but will have a dramatic effect on daily usage.
The first one is the low-band spectrum, which can also be described as a sub 1GHz spectrum. Most 4G LTE network work on this and the bandwidth is nearly depleted, that's why we have started facing a number of network problems these days. It offers great coverage area and wall penetration capabilities, but the data speeds peak at 100Mbps.
Then there comes the mid-band spectrum, which provides faster speeds and lower latency compared to low-band networks. However, its wall penetration capabilities aren't so great when compared to the low-band spectrum. Users can expect speeds to peak at around 1Gbps.
Lastly, there is the high-band spectrum, which delivers the highest performance for 5G. However, all that power comes with a number of drawbacks. The high-band spectrum is referred to as mmWave. It can offer peak speeds of up to 10Gbps and has extremely low latency. All this sounds like a dream, but its coverage area and then wall penetration capabilities are not so good.
How fast 5G really is?
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a specialized agency in the United Nations with the sole purpose of setting up technical standards for communication technologies. It also sets the rules for radio spectrum usage and telecommunications interoperability. The standards set by them for the 5G performance targets are as follows:
Peak data rate: 5G will offer significantly faster data speeds. At its peak, the data rates can hit up to 20Gbps downlink and 10Gbps uplink. That will be the speed shared by all the users from an endpoint. While the peak data rates for 5G sound pretty impressive, actual speeds won’t be the same. Users will experience up to 100Mbps download speeds and 50Mbps of upload speeds.
Latency: The time it takes data to travel from one point to another on the internet is known as the latency. In ideal circumstances, it should be around 4 milliseconds. In high priority cases, it can drop up to 1 millisecond. This will enable video calls in sensitive situations like surgeries.
Efficiency: Radio interfaces, in theory, will be energy efficient when in use, and will drop to a low-energy mode when not in use. In a perfect world, the change between low-energy mode and out of it should take less than 10 milliseconds.
Spectral efficiency: The optimised use of the spectrum and the bandwidth to maximise data transfer with minimum transmission errors is called the spectral efficiency. 5G theoretically should have a slightly improved spectral efficiency over 4G LTE.
Connection density: 5G networks should be able to support many more connected devices than LTE, thus having a way larger bandwidth. The standard states 5G will be able to support about 1 million connected devices per square kilometer. Considering the slew of IoT based devices launching every week, this absurdly high number is necessary for the future.
How will 5G improve our life?
Improve broadband: With so many people using the mobile broadband network with the bandwidth almost full, in order to continue using mobile broadband without any issues, the move to 5G is absolutely necessary. Also, there is an added benefit of speed. With increased bandwidths, we will see a lot more reliable networks.
Autonomous vehicles: We are expecting the rise of autonomous driving vehicles. In order to make sure it communicates with other vehicles on the road properly without any issue, 5G networks will help a lot.
Imagine, if the car brakes in front of you and that is communicated to your car and it brakes, it will save many lives. They can also communicate about traffic conditions and more, helping users decide the route in advance.
Remote device control: Since 5G support has remarkably low latency, remote controlling heavy construction machinery and more will become much easier. Keeping people out of harm's way while working in hazardous environments like mines.
Health care: The benefit of ultra-low latency extends in health care too. Things like telemedicine, remote recovery and physical therapy via AR, precision surgery and even remote surgery in the coming years might be a reality with 5G.