5G: Next big thing is here

5G is the next leg in the race for smoother communications options

5G is the next leg in the race for smoother communications options

Joseph Mahiya
Remember the days of 2G networks? If you do then you know how far wireless network technologies have come. With the fourth industrial revolution rolling out in some countries, it is time to explore the next big thing that will certainly revolutionise the way we communicate and the way we interact with our devices.

5G is the next leg in the race for smoother communications options.

5G will probably be on the epicentre of the fourth industrial revolution which is why we have to address it. You have probably been at a crowded place, whether it’s a stadium or a concert and you experienced intermittent delays in your data transmission.

Let’s look at how 5G will change that and more.

After the successful implementation of 2G networks in 1992, the race was on by manufacturers to deliver more speed and lower latency. People could now send text messages which was impossible on the 1G network which used analogue technology.

In 2003, 3G enabled devices started rolling out which could clock speeds of up to 7.5Mbps (Megabits per second). Even in 2018, 3G still performs just fine.

The highly advertised 4G network came into mass production in 2012 spearheaded by companies such as Samsung and Intel.

This was a breakthrough as people could access the internet on their smartphones or routers at speeds of at least 100 Mbps even up to the Gigabit level. The higher bandwidth meant that even Internet Cafes could support a few extra people without a decline in speeds.

So what does the “G” stand for? It simply identifies the generation of the wireless network.

There is not an exact standard for 5G and some companies like T-Mobile deceive customers with 4G-LTE-U to make it seem as if they already have 5G when in fact it’s only a slight increment to what we already have.

But this we do know, 5G will bring speeds of up to 20 Gbps (Gigabits per second) which is at least 10 times faster than LTE and even lower latency of sub 1ms values.

So are we saying a full HD movie could be downloaded in a matter of seconds? You’re right.

The speed is not only the advantage you’re getting here as it will also be 90 percent more power efficient over its predecessor.

Very high frequencies in the millimetre wavelength band are used for this technology which means more signal boosters are required per area. The ability to instantly stream high quality videos is what most people are excited for.

Business people will be able to conduct efficient interviews online as well as video conferencing. I have been in a skype interview and it’s awkward when there is a delay and you end up “stepping into” your interview’s speech before they could finish or even when it keeps reconnecting.

Those who love online gaming are also covered here.

Earlier I mentioned how your internet significantly slows down when you move to a crowded area, this will no longer be a problem as 5G will have the capacity to support 1 million users per square kilometre.

Currently LTE towers are omnidirectional and signal is distributed in all directions despite there not having any residence. With 5G, the signal can be directed to a specific direction to supply signal to a more precise area which results in less signal loss and the kind of hardware required to do this is what mobile network companies are currently working to build.

Imagine owning an apartment building and only needing to install one router to provide internet access to multiple floors. Self-driving cars are also a part of the revolution and this is where the Latency issue comes in. Sub 1ms latency values means cars can communicate rapidly in fractions of a second for more convenient rides and better collision avoidance.

This is a big part because a delay of just 1 second might be catastrophic on the roads.

When the iPhone X was announced in 2017, it had a few tricks up its sleeves including enhanced artificial intelligence. The same goes for the Huawei Mate 10 which can use the neural engine to recognise objects when you’re using the camera. Samsung has its own VR gear which allows to experience virtual reality just by using their smartphones.

Interesting to know that with 5G network, more immerseful artificial intelligence is possible and everything will be done wirelessly so no need to entangle yourself in cables.

The idea of virtual reality is so that the experience is as close to real life as possible. Currently, the delays and the visual quality is what puts many people off. 5G combined with a higher refresh rate of 120Hz is the dream.

While we were waiting for the news at CES 2018 Qualcomm, a chip manufacturer company did not share much about the expected dates of mass production.

Neither did Samsung, Intel, Nokia nor Ericsson. Analysts have predicted that this technology will be available to the public as early as 2019. At last we will have access to true unlimited internet.

When you buy a high end smartphone in 2019, it is most likely that it will come equipped with 5G technology because we already know companies have been testing it and have concluded that the next generation of Snapdragon and Exynos processors will support it.

Joseph Mahiya is a former winner of the DSTV Eutelsat Star Award for 2015 on satellite technology. He currently is reading towards a dual degree in computer science and computer engineering from the West Virginia University.

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