It’s the year of 5G... for telecommunication providers anyway. But what about the consumers that will determine whether 5G is the revolutionary upgrade that many are tipping it to be?
As providers rush to be a part of the technology’s early days, GlobalData predicts that 5G will make up just 0.08% of global mobile data subscriptions by the end of the year, as lacking knowledge of the technology’s benefits and the use cases that it will provide limits adoption.
But what does 5G offer consumers and how does it improve on current 4G networks?
Current 4G networks don’t possess the speed needed to handle the expanding use cases of connected mobile devices. However, 5G will provide a significantly improved bandwith, which means shorter download speeds.
In its current form, 5G is already achieving speeds up to 20 times faster than current 4G LTE networks, and there is potential to improve on that – according to telecommunication provider Verizon, its own tests show speeds that are 30-50 times faster than its current networks.
Perhaps more important than faster speeds is the lower latency that 5G offers. High data transfer speeds are all well and good, but if there is a lag experienced when attempting to make use of this data, 5G’s benefits would be significantly reduced.
While the higher frequencies used are more likely to be obstructed by structures, as they are largely unused, data transfer over these frequencies are less likely to experience delays before data transfer begins.
5G technology is expected to reduce the latency experienced on 4G networks by as much as 60 to 120 times. Tests have shown that 5G networks can produce latency rates of less than a millisecond in ideal conditions. While that will likely be unachievable one 5G goes public, it does demonstrate the huge improvement that next-gen networks will offer.
5G technology supports a wider range of frequency bands than its predecessor, ranging from sub-1 gigahertz through to 40 GHz. Operators can also make use of shared and unlicensed spectrum.
By opening up more spectrum, this will allow operators to handle the increases in data produced by an increasing amount of connected devices.
Likewise, 5G uses high frequencies in the 30 GHz to 300 GHz range. This will allow the transfer of large amounts of data with quicker transfer times.
One of the core components of 5G technology, massive multiple input and output [Massive MIMO] technology, which allows a wireless network to transmit and receive multiple data signals simultaneously, will greatly improve the maximum capacity of 5G networks.
In an increasingly connected work, it will be important that future mobile networks can handle increasingly large amounts of connected devices. By using antennas to boost signals, early tests have shown that 5G technology could successfully connect up to 1,000 more devices per meter than current mobile networks.
For the average person, this will be constant and uninterrupted internet connections that hold up when under strain.
Advantages of 5G: What does the future hold?
Beyond improving the smartphone experience, 5G is tipped to provide a range of uses for industries, businesses and consumers.
Courtesy of improved speeds and connectivity, 5G is expected to opening up technologies like mixed reality to public use through smartphone devices. The sports media industry seems particularly interested in the potential of 5G for consumers, with 80% of European-based telecommunication companies planning 5G experiences aimed at sports fans.
Next-generation mobile networks are also expected to pave the way for next-generation connected cars.
For businesses, 5G networks are expected to unlock the benefits of emerging technologies like edge computing. This will allow the processing and analysis of data locally, rather than sending it over long distances to be processed at a data centre. In turn, this will save on the amount of bandwidth use and reduce the costs of data collection and processing.