- 18 November
5G: Just around the curve
“Everything we’ve invented, everything we’ve transformed, and every hurdle we’ve overcome has built the foundation for the limitless opportunities that 5G will open up.”
Steve Mollenkopf, CEO, Qualcomm
Before getting into the article, let’s at first take a look at few stats on mobile data usage. According to Cisco:
• Global mobile data traffic grew 63 percent in 2016. Global mobile data traffic reached 7.2 Exabyte per month at the end of 2016.
• Mobile video traffic accounted for 60 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2016.
If these stats indicate anything, it is that mobile data usage is only to increase and explode in the coming years. With video traffic accounting for more than half of the total mobile data traffic, the expectation and demand for high speed and seamless mobile data connection is evident. Soon, very soon 4G won’t be able to cope up with the rising demand and, as per the rule of evolution of technology,5G will step up and enter the arena to rise up to the challenge.
What is 5G?
Of the many new and interesting trends and flagship phones that are showcased for the world in Mobile World Congress (MWC), the most talked about one and the biggest limelight hog was the 5th generation mobile network, popularly known as 5G.
As of now there is no clear and non-ambiguous definition of 5G, all the cellular giants are scrambling among themselves to provide a definitive and clear cut definition of 5G so as to establish themselves as 5G maestros. But in layman’s terms 5G is latest network system which will offer enhanced range and capacity with higher speed, much higher than its predecessors 3G and 4G, along with lower latency.
In simpler words from the National Infrastructure Commission, UK
“5G means seamless connectivity. Ultra-fast, ultra-reliable, ultra-high capacity transmitting at super low latency. It will support the ever larger data requirements of the existing network and new applications from augmented reality to connected vehicles and the Internet of Things, and many more, as unknowable today as the 4G services we take for granted would have been a decade ago.”
How fast is it?
As 5G is still in its development phase, the actual speed of 5G in real life conditions can only be speculated but the expectations are huge as its is expected to be 40 times faster than the existing 4G.
Samsung tested 5G in stationary environment and for a moving vehicle, they have observed 7.5 Gbps download speed in stationary case while 1 Gbps in a vehicle moving at 100 Km/h.
Nokia claims it has reached 10 Gbps while Huawei has managed 3.65 Gbps.
But these claims are not conclusive as they all have been carried out in labs in a controlled environment. In the real world with thick walls and other detrimental factors affecting the signal strength, things might be a little different, but still ,will be much impressive for advancements in the antenna technology will drive speeds up in the near future.
The possibilities are endless
Other than the obvious increased data speed 5G has many other things to offer. Reduced latency is an additional benefit. Latency is the delay or the amount of time taken for data transfer to take place – e.g. the buffering period when streaming a video or the loading period when opening a web page. Latency has significantly increased with the number of users on 4G. With 5G, latency less than 1 millisecond is a possibility, which is highly impressive when compared with latency in existing 4G which is in excess of 50 ms on 4G.
When this latency is achieved, the possibilities become limitless. Video games, mission critical communications, Internet-of-Things, augmented reality and automated equipment will be greatly benefited and their efficiency will be enhanced massively.
Who is doing what?
Samsung, at the Mobile world Congress in Barcelona, Spain has unveiled a 5G router for domestic use which has the top data speed of 1Gbps. Samsung has also announced a 5G radio base station to boost network in busy areas.
Qualcomm, like Samsung, is currently focused in 5G hardware and engaged in developing a 5G modem.
Nokia, earlier this year, launched a platform called ‘5G firs’ which is to provide end to end support for mobile carriers.
Ericsson created the first 5G platform earlier this year that claims to provide the first 5G radio system.
In India, Samsung has partnered with Reliance Jio and Nokia has partnered with BSNL to bring forth and develop the 5G network in India.
And now for the big question, when will 5G be available for the mere mortals, the masses. Well as there are a lot of developments still going on ,5g will be available for the common consumer no sooner than 2020.
Another word of caution, most of our existing phones will be deemed outdated for 5G as the modems in these phones will not be able to support the 5G technology. The phones that will be coming out in the near future will be rolled out with 5G specifications.