Home Digitalisation What is 5G technology? – A comprehensive guide

What is 5G technology? – A comprehensive guide

How often did it occur to you that your favorite song got interrupted due to bad internet connectivity? How many times have you frowned upon staring at the buffering icon that circles in the loop for eternity? Did you ever face bad cellular network connectivity while in the basement?

We all agree that it’s no fun when your cellular network ditches you, especially when you need it the most. What’s even worse is the frustration that ensues.

And it’s not just our everyday life that gets affected by poor and inconsistent network connectivity. It impedes the development of upcoming innovations like autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, virtual reality, telemedicine, telesurgery, IoT, etc.

The world needs to move ahead and solve modern problems. The technologies of today and future is going to need the support of an ultra-fast and a low-latency network to build upon and thrive. 4G LTE is simply not the answer.

So, 5G was invented!?

5G TECHNOLOGY

5G technology, also referred to as 5G network, is the fifth-generation mobile network that will provide high speed and secured connectivity, far lower latency(delay), enhanced network capacity and increased energy efficiency. With comparison to 4G LTE network that we have today, the target envisioned in 5G roadmap includes:

  • 10-100x peak data rate
  • 10-30x lower latency
  • 1000x network capacity
  • 10x energy efficiency

5G wireless technology will not change the definition of wireless networking. Rather, it will expand and accelerate what 4G is doing today. The real value of 5G technology lies not in what it is, but what it enables.

Here is the comparison between 4G and 5G for speed and capacity:

SPEED CAPACITY
4G LTE <1 Gbit/s 100 Mbit/s down – 50 Mbit/s up
5G 1-10 Gbit/s 1 Gbit/s down – 500 Mbit/s up

From now onwards, manufacturers are going to build only 5G enabled devices. Smartphones are going to be the first 5G enabled devices to hit the market.

WHAT IS A 5G FREQUENCY RANGE AND WAVELENGTH?

5G makes use of Millimeter wave where:

  • Frequency Range: 30GHz to 300GHz
  • Wavelength: 10mm to 1mm
  • Spectrum availability: ~100GHz

This high-frequency millimeter wavelength, however, has few shortcomings. For starters, it cannot travel for long-distance. Millimeter wavelengths can not penetrate walls, windows, or buildings. This means that the device operating on millimeter wavelength must be in proximity of 5G tower to catch a signal.

WHAT IS 5G HARDWARE REQUIREMENT?

New technology demands new hardware and 5G is no exception. In 5G enables phones, there lies a small wireless network radio which is called 5G NR, short for 5G New Radio. 5G NR is the industry standard for a unified, faster, and more responsive mobile broadband experience.

Additionally, the towers used in for 4G LTE network are slightly modified to make them operable for 5G connectivity. An array of antennas is installed on the base station that sends and receives multiple signals simultaneously. Underlying technology that works behind is called Massive MIMO.

In simplest terms, Massive MIMO technology enables the sending and receiving of more data concurrently and thus maintaining the high throughput. Here, massive signifies the number of antennas, not the size of antennas.

Millimeter wavelength, based on which 5G technology works, cannot travel far and cannot penetrate buildings. To overcome this disability, carriers deploy an ultra-dense network of what they call as Small Cells.

WHAT ARE SMALL CELLS?

Small cells are low power, millimeter (short) range wireless transmission base stations. They typically cover very small geographical areas and provide a network to deliver high-speed mobile broadband with low latency.

The purpose of a small cell is to augment the signal coming from the 5G base station so that network speed and capacity can be maintained.

With the onset of the 5G network, you should expect to see small cells deployed at utility poles, buildings, structures, etc., in the gap of every few 100 Feet.

Data gathered in one study claims that 5G network infrastructure is valued at $4.2 billion in 2020.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF 5G NETWORK?

1. HIGH-SPEED TRANSMISSION

Speed in the 5G network can reach up to 15 Gbps in transmission speed.

2. LOW LATENCY

Latency is measure by calculating how long does it take for a signal to travel from source to destination and then back again. In the 5G network, latency is going to be far lower as compared to the 4G LTE network. The round-trip transmission of data will take less than 5 milliseconds.

3. INCREASED BANDWIDTH

The architecture of the 5G network is designed in such a way that it allows for better optimization of network traffic. Hence, it has the capacity to carry larger amounts of data as compared to its predecessor.

4. COVERAGE

Guaranteed signal availability in hard-to-reach places.

WHAT ARE THE APPLICATIONS OF 5G NETWORK?

1. DOWNLOAD SPEED AND STREAMING

Imagine downloading a 4K movie in a matter of few seconds. Hard to imagine? Well, with high-band (mmWave) 5G network reaching the speed of over 10 Gbps, downloading content will be ultra-fast. The streaming services are also going to get a major boost with the standardization of 5G technology. 5G technology can literally make the words – lag, delay, or buffering go extinct.

2. IOT – INTERNET OF THINGS

IoT is in development for a decade now. With 5G technology, however, IoT will realize its full potential. Imagine millions of autonomous devices talking to each other over a high-speed, ultra-low latency 5G network.

3. ONLINE GAMING

In gaming, the latency/delay matters more than the speed of the network. With latency going under 10 ms in average case and 1 ms in the best case, gaming will take a transformative turn with the advent of 5G technology.

4. THE AGE OF AUGMENTED REALITY, VIRTUAL REALITY AND MIXED REALITY

Currently, development around AR/VR/MR has been slow due to the lack of a reliable and fast network. But with 5G technology, AR/VR/MR technology will become more sophisticated and reach a wider audience.

5. AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

As per a report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, 95% of traffic accidents occur due to human error. Autonomous vehicles can help to avoid these accidents and save precious lives. But all that is possible only with an ultra-fast and highly responsive network. 5G has proven to be the first true network on which autonomous vehicle infrastructure can rely upon.

6. TELEMEDICINE AND TELESURGERY

5G technology can enable remote checkups and consultation possible and realistic. With ultra-high speed, the doctor can consult the patient, diagnose the problem and prescribe the medicins, all on an HD video call. To take it a step ahead, a telesurgery can be performed using robotic technology and a 5G network with the surgeon and patient being geographically apart. In fact, one such surgery was performed in China using 5G technology.

FAQ

WHAT ARE 5G NETWORK PHONES?

Phones which meet hardware requirements to support 5G technology are 5G network phones. These phones deliver high-speed connectivity, lower lag, and far better quality of connection when connected to a 5G network.

WHAT IS 5G NETWORK SPEED?

Internet and voice connectivity in 5G enabled phones is going to be 10 – 100 times fasters than the 4G network. Imagine playing video games with zero lag, watching YouTube videos without any buffering, and downloading movies within a few seconds, if not minutes.

ARE 5G NETWORK PHONES AVAILABLE TODAY?

Yes. Manufacturers like Samsung, OnePlus, Xiaomi, LG, Oppo, Xiaomi have released 5G network phones this year and last year. Carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, etc. have laid out a 5G network in the US in selective areas. Here is the list of top 10 smartphones in 2020.

WILL 5G NETWORK WORK ON 4G NETWORK PHONE?

No. To experience 5G network, you must have 5G-enabled phone.

WHEN IS 5G NETWORK COMING?

It depends on the region you are living in. Here is the list of places in the USA where a 5G network is available.