2019 will be the year when we get to see the first wave of 5G devices, even if all they actually offer are bragging rights. Eventually, the 5th generation of mobile communication technology is going to open up a lot of new, exciting horizons for humans to explore. With this new generation of devices, we will be able to realize things which couldn’t even have possibly crossed our minds earlier.
What is 5G?
5G is the fifth generation of mobile networking which was started in 1980 with the inception of the first handheld mobile which supported voice calling. Over the next three generations, we saw phones evolving to offer texting support, web browsing and high-speed internet for meeting our day-to-day needs.
Now with 5G, we are going to experience lots of unprecedented features which have the capability to completely transform the way we currently live. In fact, we do not even completely know what all new innovations, this new network can bring us.
With 5G we are going to experience data transfer rates which are at least 10X greater than the earlier generation of networks. They are touted to have very low latency rates and bring in higher reliability to our networks. Let us see what these features might mean to us in a real-world situation.
5G Technology: How does it work?
Up until now, we used to rely on the spectrum band of range 3GHz to 6GHz for all our communication across each and every electronic device, this leads to a lot of congestion as there are too many devices occupying the limited space we have (Including 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi and 2.45GHz Bluetooth). So, the next obvious step for us is to open up new spectrum band for communication. Now, 5G communication will span from 3GHz to 300GHz leaving a lot more space for housing all sorts of connected devices.
Opening up this new frequency band means that we will be utilizing the shorter wavelength millimeter waves for the transmission of data. These millimeter waves will help us in getting high data transfer rates as they have a very high frequency. Moreover, since we have a large bandwidth spectrum also at play, we can aggregate multiple carriers to boost the speeds to at least 10X times the earlier.
But one main issue with this millimeter wave is that they are highly prone to obstacles. Because of their high frequency, they get attenuated real quick making it difficult to penetrate through buildings, trees or even your hand. For tackling this, researches have come up with small cell networks which act as repeaters to the main network and keep the user connected to the network at all times.
The other new innovation involved in achieving the 5G network is Beamforming. As we have multiple base stations streaming data from all the sides, resorting to the traditional multi-direction signal transmission will only cause a lot of interference resulting in poor connectivity. So in beamforming instead of transmitting signals in all directions, a focused stream of data is sent to each specific user thereby reducing the interference and improving the connectivity.
5G: The Reality
While all these claims appear lofty, the major development in 5G space will be restricted to 3GHz to 6GHz at least for the next few years. This is because it will be simpler to scale existing infrastructure for this bandwidth rather than for broader high-frequency mmWaves spectrum. And with the sub-6GHz bands, it will be simpler to extend coverage easily to relatively remote areas.
The Sub 6GHz spectrum will also allow OEMs to keep the Antenna’s slim and small, and thus retaining slim and svelte flagships.
5G Network Speeds
5G network is going to provide speeds of the order of 20Gigabits per second owing to its multi-network connectivity. The new X50 modem of Snapdragon is designed to handle speeds up to 5Gbps. With 5G, you can experience broadband-like data speeds wirelessly on your mobile phones.
5G also brings us 60GHz WiFi which is basically similar to the WiFi we currently use but with multi-gigabit speeds and high responsiveness. What’s more interesting to note is that, this is highly power-efficient as well. So going forward we might not see cables around our houses for broadband connections as we will be greeted with more polished wireless connectivity that offer higher speeds with lower latency.
How will 5G affect out lives in the Future?
With the level of speeds that 5G offers, users can easily download huge files within seconds. This paves way for more and more users to depend on the cloud for storing their data. As a result of this, we might see a surge in PCs featuring low storage SSDs as most of the data is already securely stored in the cloud which can be easily accessed with almost no delay on 5G network.
One of the primary areas which will benefit from the 5G network is the Internet of Things. Internet of Things is basically a network of devices which are connected to the internet to perform a specific task. These could be your smart fridge, smart juicer, Smart bulb, and the likes.
Each of these devices will have their own computational power and hence require their own communication channels to relay the information. In a network-based solution like IoT which involves several hundreds of individual nodes, the communication band should be sufficiently large to ensure smooth movement of packets without interference.
As we discussed earlier, since 5G spans from 3GHz to 100 GHz this huge width of communication band will help us in bringing an innumerable number of low powered devices into the spectrum to support IoT.
One interesting technology which can be realised with 5G is the concept of Connected Vehicles. As we already discussed that the vast spectrum of 5G allows in bringing in a lot of new low powered devices into the network, we could install these low powered devices in automobiles to create a network of cars which track themselves in real time.
It leaves us with a lot of possibilities to explore, like driverless cars, better traffic routing in cities, support to ambulance and healthcare services where we can transmit a distress signal to all the nearby cars from an ambulance. This technology will eventually help us in curbing the vehicular accidents as the vehicles are already connected and they will be able to warn us in time from any mishap.
The next big thing that IoT is expected to revolutionize is the industry. With 5G added to IoT, we have access to high-speed data transfer with minimum latency which gives us extremely high reliability to use this network for Industrial purposes. Unlike, the usual 5G networks, IoT for industries will have their specified private band for communication which reduces the chance for any interference. We can employ this help us in manufacturing processes, agriculture, drone-based delivery system, shipping & travel industry, mining industry etc.
XR ( Cross Reality)
Another major breakthrough we are going to experience with the inception of 5G is XR( Cross Reality). XR is a mix of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. XR brings us a lot of new features like real-time video chat, 360-degree audio and VR based gaming. Imagine putting on your VR headsets and playing a game like PUBG with your friends where you can feel like you are actually inside the game. Or imagine being present right in front of your favourite artists at a concert directly from your home using a VR headset. All these insane possibilities could be feasible with 5G coupled XR.
5G – The New Age Revolution
These are some of the many possibilities that 5G brings us. There are several other unexplored horizons that 5G will slowly uncover and we just need to wait to get a glimpse of them. We can look forward to seeing some exciting changes in the future, but it will still take some time for the 5G to reach its full potential.
Most 5G phones that we see next year will be vastly limited as far as 5G capabilities go, but they will mark the beginning.