What is 5G and What Does it Mean for the Future of Telecommunications?

5G refers to the next generation of the mobile broadband network. It is the latest generation of cellular communications and the future of telecommunications. Let’s look at the 5G network’s capability and how it compares to other generations of mobile communications.

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How 5G Compares to 3G and 4G

3G is the third generation of mobile broadband network. 3G arrived in the United States in 2003 and has a minimum internet speed of 144Kbps, though the standard 3G connection is 400 Kbps to ten times that. 4G is the fourth generation network, and it is faster than 3G. 4G networks can handle download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps, with peak download speeds of 50MBps. 4G LTE or long term evolution is the fastest and most consistent version of 4th generation mobile broadband. 5G is the fifth generation of mobile broadband. 5G achieves download speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second.

About 5G

5G communications are built in 4G LTE. It uses the same IEEE standards and communication protocols as 4G LTE but makes communications faster. 5G doesn’t make older cellphones obsolete, because the 5G communication and technology standards require everything to be backwards compatible. And 5G is designed to be interoperable around the world. The biggest shift in 5G networks is the cellular communication network using frequencies up to 6 GHz while 4G only uses frequency bands up to 20 MHz.

Higher frequency signals don’t travel as far as lower frequencies but can handle much more information. The hardware that supports the 5G network will require many more antennas to provide the same amount of coverage.

5G networks promise much lower latency or the time that it takes to send packets of data between devices. For 4G networks, the latency rate is 50 milliseconds. For 5G networks, latency will be about one millisecond. This is crucial when you have connected targets on the move like self-driving cars.

What Is Driving the 5G Network

The internet of things is giving rise to ever more devices that need to have stable internet connections. Whether it is a health monitoring app to your smartphone connecting to your home security system, we have far more devices competing with smartphones and tablets for limited bandwidth.

5G networks are also necessary to simply support users trying to upload and download high definition video and 3D video. 5G networks will let you download an HD movie to your phone in a matter of seconds and is necessary to support high definition broadcasts by many different users in the same area

The Rollout of 5G

Verizon began limited 5G trials in Texas, Oregon and New Jersey. Due to the multiple input / output antennas required to support 5G communications, the greatest thing affecting 5G networks is the speed with which they can install all the antennas. Because of this, 5G isn’t expected to be widely available in the United States until 2020 and its rollout will begin in the most densely populated areas. This rollout will follow the same pattern as 4G, where large cities get it first followed by smaller cities and cell phone towers along major highways. Only as the cost comes down and the technology becomes the de facto standard will 5G show up in semi-rural areas unless it is a tourist hotspot.

You’ll also see 5G networks rolled out at industrial facilities to support networks of sensors managing the smart grid from production to consumption.