There has been a lot of talk recently about 5G networks, the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, which provides faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and any other devices. The hikes in speed are expected to be many times the current speeds offered by 4G LTE mobile networks, with an expected average speed of 1GBps. This will have significant impacts on the tech world, especially in the realm of the Internet of Things, which needs networks able to carry huge amounts of data at very high speeds, resulting in a world more connected and smart than ever before.
It is expected that these 5G networks will launch sometime in 2020, and since it is a matter of a year, we thought you might wanna know what is 5G and what it’ll mean for you.
Similar to 4G and 3G, 5G is a wireless connection built specifically to adapt to the expanding set of devices that use the internet. But we’re not talking about phones and computers anymore, but home appliances, door locks, security cameras, cars, wearables, dog collars and many other things that you might not expect. To give you an idea about what 5G will mean, Gartner expects that over 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet in 2020, compared to a mere 6.4 billion today, meaning the number of devices will triple within the next year. So what is 5G?
What is 5G and how fast is it?
The “G” in “5G stands for “generation”, as this will be the 5th generation of wireless phone technology, which started with 1G and moved to 2G in the early 1990s, which allowed users to send texts between to cellular phones. Eventually, we moved to 3G, which allowed people to browse the web, make phone calls and sent text messages all through the internet. When 4G came about, it enhanced many of these functions and provided speed that enabled users to upload and download large files, only to later add LTE, short for “long term evolution”, which made 4G the fastest and most consistent mobile network out there. 5G will build upon what we have so far. It will still allow people to do all that we can do now, but it will dramatically increase speeds, thus expanding the potential uses of this technology.
The current top recorded speed of 4G LTE networks reaches 1 gigabit per second, but the problem is that most people do not experience this high speed because the signal can be interrupted by so many things from buildings to microwaves and other wireless signals. 5G will boost this download speed to 10 gigabits per second, meaning a full HD movie will take a matter of seconds to fully download. Furthermore, the new generation will decrease latency giving users faster load times.
How does it work?
There is yet to be consensus on worldwide standards for 5G, since it is not in use yet. But many major telecom companies are working on these standards. While many of these standards have not been solidified, experts expect 5G to be backward compatible (i.e. compatible with 3G and 4G) as well as have some interoperability across the world.
At the essence, cell phones are basically two way radios. When you call someone, your voice is translated into an electrical signal and transmitted to a cell tower, which then bounces it off to other cell towers to eventually reach the other person’s phone. The same process is needed to send files through these cell networks.
When a new generation of wireless technology comes along, it is usually assigned a higher radio frequency. 4G has a 20MHz frequency while 5G is expected to have a frequency band of up to 60 GHz. There is a problem here and that is that higher frequency signals do not travel as far as lower ones, meaning that multiple input and output antennas will be needed to boost signals everywhere 5G is offered.
When to expect 5G?
5G is already available in certain test location in the United States. Verizon recently announced that it has begun limited trials in Texas, Oregon and New Jersey, while AT&T will be having trials in their labs before commercial release. However, most experts think that 5G will not be available before 2020, which is not that long as it will certainly be worth the wait. One thing we can all agree on is that fast internet is great and more and more necessary in our times.