Every new generation of wireless networks delivers faster speeds and functionality to our smartphones. 1g brought us the very first cell phones, 2g let us text for the first time, 3g brought us online, and 4g delivered the speeds that we enjoy today. But as more users come online, 4g networks have just about reached the limit of what they’re capable of at a time when users want even more data for their smartphones and devices. Now we’re headed toward 5g – the next generation of wireless. It will be able to handle 1000 times the traffic compared to today’s networks and will be up to 10 times faster than 4gLTE. Just imagine downloading an HD movie in just under a second 5g will be the foundation for Virtual reality, autonomous driving, the Internet of Things and many more.
But what exactly is a 5g network?
5g is a software-defined network. While it won’t replace cables entirely, it could replace the need for them by largely operating on the Cloud instead. It’s not however only the internet capacity that will be upgraded, it’s also going to improve user response times. While the 4g network response to user commands in just under 50 milliseconds, with 5g it will take around 1 millisecond. Smartphone users will enjoy a more streamlined experience, but for a world that is increasingly dependent on the internet just a function, a reduction in time- delay is critical. Self-driving cars, for example, require a continuous stream of data. The quicker that information is delivered to autonomous vehicles, the better and safer they can run.
For analysts, however, this is just one example of how 5g could become the connective tissue for the Internet of Things: an industry that said to grow three-fold by 2025, linking and controlling not just robots, but also medical devices, industrial equipment, and agricultural machinery.
5g will also provide a much more personalized web experience, using a technique called network slicing. It’s a way of creating separate wireless networks on the cloud allowing users to create their own bespoke network. For an instance, an online Gamer needs faster response times and greater data capacity, than a user who just wants to check their social media.
Being able to personalize the internet will also benefit businesses. At big events like the Mobile World Congress, for example, there was a mass influx of people in one particular area using data-heavy applications, but with 5g, organizers could pay for an increased slice of the network boosting its internet capacity, and thus improving their visitor’s online experience.
So when can we start using 5g?
Well not yet, and according to some analysts not until 2020. 5g was created years ago and has been talked up ever since, yet it’s estimated that even by 2025 the network will still lag behind both 4g & 3g in terms of global mobile connections. Its mainstream existence faces multiple hurdles; the most significant of these, of course, is Cost. According to some experts, 5g could cause network operators to tear up their current business models for it to make ‘business sense’. In the UK, for example, 3g and 4g networks were relatively cheap to set up because they were able to roll out on existing frequencies on the country’s radio spectrum.
For 5g to work properly however it needs a frequency with much bigger bandwidth, which would require brand new infrastructure. Some analysts believe the extensive building and running costs will force operators to share the use and the management of the mobile network.
It’s still likely however that most network providers will have a gradual approach to 5g, driven by competition but with a patchy style of development. For key industrial zones, 5g technology will be adopted quickly, while for many in rural areas 5g may be a bit of a long way off. When 5g does establish itself and fulfill its supposed potential, it could even change how we get the internet at home and at work. With a wireless network replacing the current system of phone lines and cables. Though it may not happen overnight, 5g however, is coming soon.