A Primer on 5G Technology

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Telecommunications technology has enabled never before seen large-scale connectivity. A brief list of these technologies includes telephone, television, satellite, radio, and computer networking.  Behind the scenes, these technologies are connected through an array of wireless infrastructure.

One important aspect of this infrastructure is next-generation mobile networks (e.g. 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G). All these different generations made it possible to utilize voice, SMS, mobile web browsing, and video chat. However, its next evolution, 5G, promises to meet today’s growing data transmission and device connection demands.

What is 5G?

5G is the 5th generation of mobile broadband that will over time replace the current 4G LTE standard. This updated standard will increase opportunities for people worldwide by delivering a serious payload. The potential of 5G is found in its lower latency, faster speeds, and greater load capacity.

Lower Latency

Latency is the amount of time it takes for data to travel from one point to another. High latency is associated with longer load times for webpages, choppy video and audio, and lagging applications. Inside a 5G network, latency will be lowered to 1-10 milliseconds. It takes 10 milliseconds for an image seen by the human eye to be processed by our brain. This ultra-low latency will enable new smart technologies to hit the market.

Faster Speeds 

Each new generation of a device or technology tends to tout higher speeds. While most do offer higher speeds, the effects can sometimes be minimal. However, 5G claims to deliver a jump in speeds that is extreme. 5G has the potential to max out at 10 gigabits per second. This makes it 100 times faster than the current 4G standard. For example, this means you could download a two-hour movie in just 3.6 seconds on 5G, versus 6 minutes on 4G or 26 hours on 3G.

Digital Ecosystem

The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized the world around us. IoT is a network of physical objects that contains sensors, software, and other embedded features that exchange data over the internet. These devices can range from smart camera systems in our homes to robotic surgeries. Though IoT does carry with it some concerns. It is outgrowing the number of humans on the planet! In fact, it is projected there will be 30.9 billion units by 2025. This is where the 5th generation comes in. That projected number would be way less without the greater load capacity found in 5G. This will be huge for IoT and all those who use it regularly. This indicates industries like healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing will notice a significant improvement in their operations.

5G Rollout

Achieving worldwide 5G coverage is a work in progress. By the end of 2021, we should see about 25% of the global population having 5G coverage. Long term, there should be about 4.1 billion people by 2025, according to research from Banker. Delay in implementation can be due to numerous factors. Some barriers to rollout are the speed at which towers are deployed, devices lacking 5G capabilities, and the need for standardization.

Early research projects have even begun for 6G, although experts don’t have a clear vision of what’s in store.

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