What is 5G?
5G is the name being given to the next generation of wireless networks (this is the fifth generation, hence 5G), but beyond that, it's hard to define. It's all in the eye of the beholder.
Reasons to be eager for 5G
5G will push augmented reality and virtual reality into the mainstream. Augmented reality overlays information like walking directions, product prices or acquaintances' names over our view of the real world by, for example, projecting data onto a car windshield. Virtual reality creates an entirely artificial view. Both need to pull in new data almost instantly.
Download speeds should increase from today's 4G peak of 150 megabits per By Olewe Eugene second to at least 10 gigabits per second. That's fast enough to download an episode of your favorite series in 5 seconds instead of 30 minutes.
In addition to cramming more bits into every second, 5G will shorten the lag time before the first bits show up. Waiting a few seconds for a streaming video to start over 4G is no big deal, but that's unacceptably slow for things like self-driving cars, where every millisecond counts."Latency" refers to the time it takes one device to send a packet of data to another device. Currently with 4G, the latency rate is around 50 milliseconds, but 5G will reduce that to about one millisecond.
The Internet of Things (wearable, smart home appliances, connected cars) is expected to grow exponentially over the next 10 years, and it will need a network that can accommodate billions of connected devices. Part of the goal behind 5G is to provide that capacity, and also to be able to assign bandwidth depending on the needs of the application and user.
Whatever the date, 5G is coming.
To deliver 5G, carriers will need to boost network capacity between phones and the big antennas, called base stations, they install every few miles.
They can start by tapping into unoccupied spectrum, radio-wave territory relatively uncluttered with signals today. Radio waves vibrate with a frequency measured in megahertz or even faster gigahertz.
Today's phones communicate at less than 3GHz; 5G will require higher frequency bands.
But radio waves at higher frequencies are harder to transmit over longer distances or if buildings and walls are in the way. To compensate, carriers will rely on advanced antenna technologies. These include massive MIMO (multiple input multiple output) antennas, which send many radio signals in parallel, and beamforming, which focuses radio energy in a specific direction.
Carriers will also pack base stations more closely together to improve the odds your phone will be near one. They will also supplement today's long-range "macrocells," which can reach up to about 20 miles, with lots of short-range "small cells," which can cover up to a few hundred feet.
Installing one macrocell and getting it running costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, while mounting small cells every block on power poles costs tens of thousands of dollars apiece. It's too soon to say how much 5G will cost, but carriers' ongoing 4G build- out may total $1.7 trillion through 2020,Carriers won't foot the 5G bill without the prospect of lots of new paying customers. The Internet of Things (IoT), the name given to the notion of tying just about every and any thing into the Net, should deliver those consumers.
What are the challenges facing 5G? One of the big challenges facing 5G is standardization. There are already multiple groups working to come up with standards around interoperability, backward compatibility with older technologies (4G, 3G), and making sure the network will be future-proof. While many companies agree that a global standard is needed, whether they'll be able to come together and agree on one is another story.
Building the infrastructure for 5G is also a huge task, with issues around spectrum and installing new an tennas. 5G is likely going to rely, at least in part, on higher-frequency bands. There is more space in those airwaves available, but at such high frequencies, signals can't travel nearly as far as they can over the frequencies used for 4G, resulting in a poor connection.
Obstacles like buildings and trees and even bad weather can also cause interference. To offset that, carriers will need to install more base stations to ensure better coverage, and use antenna technologies like MIMO (multiple-input and multiple- output). While carriers' base stations can handle hundreds of simultaneous users now, that's not enough to accommodate the billions of new devices that will hook into the Internet of Things. Equipment makers must increase base station connectivity capacity by a factor of 1,000.
Privacy and security are also key considerations, so 5G will include extra capabilities to ensure that customer information is protected and our devices are harder to hack.
An oft-forgotten aspect of our mobile connectivity is battery life. The target for 5G networks is handsets, phablets, tablets and
other devices with five times the battery life of existing 4G devices. Imagine not having to recharge for a couple of days or being
able to watch a couple of movies without having to find a power outlet to plug into.
It'll be a different world.
© The Student Enginner UoN All Rights Reserved