These days there are lots of talks about “5G”, the new Fifth Generation of mobile connectivity technology. Many of major operators such as Samsung, AT&T, Verizon, Nokia, and Huawei are working full force to make 5G happen in a tight competition.
But what exactly is 5G and when will it be in use?
What is 5G?
Until now, the only issue that can be confidently said about 5G is that obviously it is the fifth generation of mobile network technology, and it promises 4 major improvements:
1) Much Higher Speed
5G promises to provide speeds as high as 10Gbps (in theory) and as high as 100Mbps in congested networks which is multiple times higher than the current 4G platform.
2) Lower Latency
While 4G has a latency of about 30-50ms, the latency of 5G is expected to be in the range of 1ms or less.
3) Number of Connections
While 4G networks can provide up to thousands of connections, a 5G network is expected to increase that to millions of connections per square kilometer. This is especially important with regards to the expected explosive growth of IoT devices to about 20 billion devices by 2020.
4) Lower power consumption
5G is expected to consume less battery power than 4G.
Apart from the above assumptions, the actual technical details of 5G is not yet defined, and there is a fierce competition to finalize the standard, which is expected no sooner than 2018.
When will 5G become available?
The current estimates are talking about 2020 as the year when we can start using 5G. There are talks about providing limited 5G services as early as 2018 to cover the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
However, when considering all the remaining challenges that need to be resolved before 5G actually replaces the 4G infrastructure, it seems we still are a few more years away from having a widely-spread 5G network.
Some of these challenges are:
1) Defining the final standard
2) Providing the required backbone infrastructure that can handle the very high speeds that is required
3) Embedding the required hardware in all mobile cells and other mobile devices.
5G network is inevitable – for sure it is the required communication infrastructure for the 3rd decade of the 21st century to complement other emerging technologies such as , Artificial Intelligence (AI), and live video communications. However it seems we would need to wait for 5 more years to see a wide coverage of 5G for our daily use.