Tech

5G: What is it and how will it help you?

Craig McCarthy  

5G is the next generation of network connectivity that enables you to connect to the internet via mobile devices.

It promises super-fast speeds, improved reliability and versatility that creates a whole new collection of use cases.


Is it much of an improvement on 4G?

The minimum expectation for download speeds via 5G is a whopping 10Gbps, making it over 1,000 times faster than 4G, our current standard. Additionally, latency, the time it takes to send data from one point to another, is dramatically reduced - from 50ms to a mere 1ms.


What ways will this impact us?

Well, firstly, you’ll be able to do everything you currently do - but faster, much faster! Watching movies, streaming music, playing online games, operating your business software; it will all become much swifter and more reliable.

It will allow billions of devices to connect instantaneously (the Internet of Things), opening up the most exciting benefits - the ground-breaking tech opportunities that could completely revolutionise the way the world works.

One of the most prominent discussions in automation at the moment is driverless cars - 5G will power them!

However, it’s not just vehicles that benefit from the superior device connectivity; in healthcare we will finally possess the technology for doctors to provide accurate remote medical care and perform time-sensitive procedures such as critical emergency surgery, which could save lives.

We will see a surge of connectivity in agriculture and manufacturing, including automated inventory management, machinery, security, inventory tracking and more.

In business, staying connected will be easier than ever. Using cloud-based software will be just as reliable on the road as it is in the office - and just as fast. The ability to move data around more rapidly will allow businesses to manage massive data sets like never before, gaining valuable insights and build better customer experiences.

As the technology is so new, it is likely to create opportunities we haven’t even considered yet.


How does it work?

5G networks will operate in a higher frequency band on the wireless spectrum, capable of carrying data much quicker.

While the waves can carry data at a significantly higher speed, they aren’t suited to transferring data as far as the lower frequencies used in 4G; they are particularly easy to block out with physical objects such as walls, buildings, trees, etc.

To combat this, 5G networks will require more antennae to ensure we get the appropriate coverage. So, it’s likely you’ll find a significant amount of antennae installed, everywhere.

Another exciting development 5G introduces - the ability to slice a physical network into multiple virtual networks, giving providers greater flexibility to deliver the appropriate networking requirements for specific apps, services, devices and customers. Businesses will also be able to rent their own private slices, meaning they will be isolated from network interference of external parties.


Sounds great. When can we expect to see it?

The testing phases are well underway. It is already in the process of being rolled out to some countries such as the US, China and South Korea. However, these rollouts are still in their early stages.

Most countries, including the UK, are aiming to launch their 5G services in 2020/2021. However, like 4G before it, availability may be limited to specific areas while full coverage is implemented across the nation.


Will I need to upgrade my device?

Unfortunately, yes. Current smartphones are not built with 5G compatible chipsets. The good news is - industry leaders are already beginning to roll out the next generation of smartphones that are compatible with both 4G and 5G networks, ensuring you are future proof.


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