As mobile communications continue to improve and the demand for mobile services linked to the arrival of smartphones increases, the wireless industry has responded with substantial investments in infrastructure for 4G technologies.
It is again planning to invest billions of dollars in new devices and infrastructure to meet the growing demand, fueled by expansion from existing markets and by the communications needs of new categories of mobile devices, comprising optical readers and tiny sensors, better known as the Internet of Things.
What is 5G?
The fifth generation (5G) cellular network is coming, but will it be just an evolution of 4G or will it be based on emerging technologies that call for indiscriminate rethinking of ingrained cellular principles?
At the moment, 5G is just a concept. With consumers calling for faster connectivity and speedier downloads, networks are looking to deliver a seamless user experience by increasing data speeds and coverage, though there is no consensus on the standards yet.
That said, the International Telecommunication Union describes 4G as anything offering a considerable level of improvement in performance and capabilities over 3G. So, 5G has to be superior to 4G in every aspect, but this is still an understatement.
When Samsung announced that it had tested 5G at speeds of 1GB per second, the media quickly reported that the network could download a HD film in less than 30 seconds: remarkable indeed. However, technology analysts stated that 5G networks will be running at speeds of over 800 GB per second – a staggering rate that equates downloading around 33 HD films in one second.
What it means to have 5G cellular network
1. The ability to comfortably handle a rapidly growing wireless device customer base
5G is expected to revolutionize the way the globe is connected, and how users interact with the internet. According to ABI research, the number of active wireless connected devices in 2014 was more than 16 billion – a 20 percent increase from 2013. If this trend continues, this number will hit the 40 billion mark by 2020. Such growth of demand from both individuals and corporations is not sustainable on the 4G infrastructure, but it should be on the remarkable 5G network.
2. The end of peak time performance issues
Unlike fixed lines where the internet speed is fairly consistent throughout the day, 3G and 4G networks are susceptible to signal drops and occasional peak time performance issues. This is one of the biggest problems with mobile broadband, especially for users who are heavily reliant on cloud computing and remote working. The interruption can also mean that important international Skype calls get cut-out mid-conversation, which can hurt your business.
These interruptions are largely because 3G and 4G networks depend on bulky, static masts to relay signals. However, these masts find it hard to reach certain areas of coverage.
But with improvements in the technology behind antennae implies that 5G base stations can be installed in nearly every home and lamppost, providing constant coverage. If every individual user will be able to access his/her own antennae, it will be possible to operate at remarkable frequencies and enjoy the blistering speeds predicted.
3. Improved standards of living in emerging markets
Many developing countries have areas with no access to basic broadband owing to the high cost of installing lines. With telecom operators using mobile masts to provide faster internet services, it should be possible to deliver very fast internet to the most remote areas. This could help grow businesses at a remarkable rate, as more people take advantage of new opportunities.
In fact, emerging markets are expected to adopt 5G technologies at a faster rate compared to developed nations because of fewer infrastructure complexities, and lack of legacy constraints.
Other implications of 5G technology include:
- The ability for driverless cars to communicate with each other,
- Smart surgery – human remotely operating a robot to perform complex operations
- Air traffic control centres start to monitor multiple airports at one
It is not easy trying to imagine the extent that different countries and populations will benefit from adopting 5G networks, but it will definitely help increase people’s standard of living in unprecedented ways. For instance, it can spark innovation (like Netflix video streaming which works on 4G but not on 2G) and improve connectivity in the Internet of Things.