Mobile technology has come a long way from facilitating communication to being an integral part of our lives. Mobile devices are used as a medium for communication and content consumption. However, that scenario is soon going to change with the much-hyped 5G technology. The 5G technology is not just an upgrade over 4G; it promises much more than just an upgrade. Over 1000 times increased data volume, five times reduced latency, up to 100 times faster data transfer speed, up to 100 times more connected devices, and 100% connectivity are some of the widely supported goals of 5G.
It seems like there are more questions about 5G than there are answers right now. People really wanted to know what 5G is and how it works? 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment, your 4G LTE connection. With 5G, you’ll see exponentially faster download and upload speeds. Latency, or the time it takes devices to communicate with each other wireless networks, will also drastically decrease.
Now that we know what 5G is, it’s a good idea to understand how it works, since it’s different from traditional 4G LTE. From spectrum bands to small cells, here’s everything you need to know about the inner workings of 5G.
5G operates on three different spectrum bands.
Low-band spectrum can also be described as sub 1GHz spectrum. While low-band spectrum offers great coverage area and penetration, there is a big drawback: Peak data speeds will top out around 100Mbps.
Mid-band spectrum provides faster coverage and lower latency than you’ll find on low-band. It does, however, fail to penetrate buildings as well as low-band spectrum. Expect peak speeds up to 1Gbps on mid-band spectrum.
High-band spectrum is what most people think of when they think of 5G. It is often referred to as mmWave. High-band spectrum can offer peak speeds up to 10Gbps and has very low latency. The major drawback of high-band is that it has low coverage area and building penetration is poor.
Small cells are low-power base stations that cover small geographic areas. With small cells, carriers using mmWave for 5G can improve overall coverage area. Combined with Beamforming, small cells can deliver very extremely fast coverage with low latency.
The shift to 5G will undoubtedly change the way we interact with technology on a day-to-day basis, but it also has a serious purpose. It’s an absolute necessity if we want to continue using mobile broadband.
In some cities, users are already experiencing slowdowns during busy times of the day. 5G adds huge amounts of spectrum in bands that have not been used for commercial broadband traffic.
In the future, your vehicle will communicate with other vehicles on the road, provide information to other cars about road conditions, and provide performance information to drivers and automakers. If a car brakes quickly up ahead, yours may learn about it immediately and preemptively brake as well, preventing a collision. This kind of vehicle-to-vehicle communication could ultimately save thousands of lives.
Public safety and infrastructure
5G will allow cities and other municipalities to operate more efficiently. Utility companies will be able easily track usage remotely, sensors can notify public works departments when drains flood or street lights go out, and municipalities will be able to quickly and inexpensively install surveillance cameras.
The ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC) component of 5G could fundamentally change health care. Since URLLC reduces 5G latency even further than what you’ll see with enhanced mobile broadband, a world of new possibilities opens up. Expect to see improvements in telemedicine, remote recovery and physical therapy via AR, precision surgery, and even remote surgery in the coming years.
One of the most exciting and crucial aspects of 5G is its effect on the Internet of Things. While we currently have sensors that can communicate with each other, they tend to require a lot of resources and are quickly depleting LTE data capacity.
With 5G speeds and low latencies, the IoT will be powered by communications among sensors and smart devices (here’s mMTC again). Compared to current smart devices on the market, mMTC devices will require fewer resources, since huge numbers of these devices can connect to a single base station, making them much more efficient.