Each decade has seen a massive upgrade to cell phone infrastructure, and telecommunications experts are calling the latest iteration, 5G, a breakthrough. Initially introduced in 2018, 5G is following in the footsteps of 4G LTE, which doubled the data speeds of 3G. At their full potential, 5G networks will add significant capabilities, including serving the communications needs of a growing IoT (Internet of Things) ecosystem.
5G is the fifth generation of cell phone technology and operates on less-cluttered higher radio frequencies with the goal of providing higher bandwidth and lower latency network. Currently, 5G is in the buildout phase, and its coverage is not better than what the latest version of 4G networks provides. However, according to telecommunications experts, within several years, 5G networks are expected to improve coverage and include in many of the most rural parts of the US and Europe.
One of the biggest challenges facing all wireless networks is large physical obstructions. Trees, tall buildings, and even mountains can block a signal over large distances. This is especially true in rural areas but can affect more dense metro areas as well. 5G’s use of multiple signal boosting input and output antennae solves this problem. 5G will also make use of small transmitters placed on buildings, lamp posts, and other street furniture to transmit signals.
5G will use slicing to better meet the needs of numerous applications and devices. Slicing partitions a larger physical network into many smaller virtual networks. For example, operators can deliver streaming a video on one slice and service an autonomous vehicle on another. Operators will be better able to manage their networks by separating simple devices from more demanding and complex applications.
Slicing will result in greater network capacity. A 5G network can be divided into three different bands or frequencies, which will allow for different uses on each band. 5G also uses shorter wavelengths than 4G, which means antennas can be shorter without interfering with the direction of the wavelengths. As a result, a 5G network will also be able to support 1,000 more devices per meter than 4G.
5G’s theoretical top speed is between 10 and x100 faster than what you may get with 4G. Real-world performance on a 4G network is approximately 35 Mbps with top speeds of 100 Mbps. 5G’s real-world speeds start between 50 Mbps and 3 Gbps, with top speeds of 20 Gbps. The shorter frequencies on the network are the source of 5G’s speed. While the potential for very high speeds exists, speeds still vary widely from region to region.
Another major upgrade from 4G is low latency. 4G has a latency of about 200 milliseconds. 5G takes this down to 1 millisecond. Reducing latency is critical for many applications, like those used by self-driving cars, as they will need to send and receive data from the cloud as fast as possible. Beyond self-driving cars, low latency improves immersive virtual reality gaming, telesurgery, and simultaneous translation. Telecommunications experts also believe low latency will enable the introduction of new IoT (Internet of Things) applications.
The 5G Rollout
According to telecommunications experts expect 551m 5G subscriptions by the end of 2021 and 1.8 billion by the end of 2025. Eventually, mobile phone users will, of course, need to upgrade from a 4G to a 5G phone, which will accelerate adoption. However, the massive uptake of 5G will be by IoT applications like self-driving cars.
Get Ready for 5G
As 5G technology continues to roll out worldwide, now is the time to get prepared. Telecommunications experts are already upgrading their applications from 4G to 5G or developing new IoT applications and other pieces of technology to run on 5G networks. Sidespin Group’s telecommunications experts have assisted wireless communications companies in various technology consulting projects, including patent litigation and technology strategy.