5G: The Next Evolution

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From the very start of the modern telecommunications ecosystems, there have been consistent developments in the field. Wireless technology has played a significant part in getting the data scenario where it is today. Japan was the first country to introduce 1G commercially in 1979. Then came along 2G, launched in Finland on the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standards in 1991. The difference between the two being that the radio signals used by 1G networks were analog while 2G networks were digital. The 2G then received upgrades in the form of 2.5G (GRPRS) and 2.75G (EDGE).

5g

Approximately, a new cellular standard has been witnessed every decade with 3G being introduced in 1998 and 4G networks in 2008. Every successive standard has boosted the speed of the networks and data transmission and lessened the latency (the time between cause and effect in data transfer). 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) has proved to be wildly popular since its introduction especially in developing countries where the data speeds tend to be inferior compared to their developed counterparts.

Recent years have seen a rise in the progress towards development and deployment of 5G, both for the commercial purposes as well as the masses. While it may sound just another “G”, there’s a lot which goes into evolving the wireless communications. To introduce you to 5G, it’s based on the IEEE 802.11 ac standard of wireless technology. With test results touching the download speeds of 1 Tbps, which is 65,000 times faster than normal 4G, one would be able to download files that are a 100 times in size compared to a typical movie file size in less than 4 seconds.
The Group Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) has defined eight criteria for a network to meet to be specified as 5G:

  • One to 10Gbps connections to end points in the field
  • One millisecond end-to-end round trip delay
  • 1000x bandwidth per unit area
  • 10 to 100x number of connected devices
  • (Perception of) 99.999 percent availability
  • (Perception of) 100 percent coverage
  • 90 percent reduction in network energy usage
  • Up to ten-year battery life for low power, machine-type devices

There have been delays, namely because of not enough global compatibility. A device made to work in a particular country won’t essentially work in a similar spectrum band. The ability of devices to connect and work in similar spectrum all over the world is crucial for the success of IoT (Internet of Things), which is the inter-networking of devices, vehicles; basically everything that’s connected to the internet and is termed as “Smart”, is essential for 5G to be successful.

“5G Wi-Fi connections, starting at 450 Mbps are intended to be 3 times faster than 4G”

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Developments have come in the form of companies such as Nokia, Qaulcomm, Samsung, Ericsson and BT, who have made progress in 5G. More companies are joining hands and funds to research 5G and its applications. Qualcomm and Samsung have focused on hardware side of 5G with the former producing a 5G modem and the latter, a 5G home router. On the flip-side, Nokia and Ericsson have focused on mobile carriers. In a first, Ericsson created a 5G radio system and Nokia came forth with “5G First”, to provide end-to-end support to carriers.

With an estimated release for 2020, 5G currently remains in development with companies building devices to support it and run essential tests on them to adopt the next evolution in wireless communication. Ovum has predicted that around 24 million users will be 5G subscribers by 2021. Things such as technical terms remain yet to be defined and with the deployment still considerably away, there is more room for improvements and changes as needed to truly launch an evolution in the form of 5G.