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5G: Hurdles and Prospects

5G: Hurdles and Prospects

Today, the 4G mobile network is used around the world for making calls, sending messages and searching the web. However, now there are plans to replace 4G with 5G: a new, faster network that has the potential to transform the internet.

 

With a speed of up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G is set to be as much as 100 times faster than 4G. For comparison: Downloading a two-hour movie on 3G would take about 26 hours, on 4G it would take 6 minutes, whereas on 5G your movie will be ready in just over three and half seconds, according to the Consumer Technology Association.

 

Alongside the increase of network speed, response times will decrease drastically. Currently, the 4G network responds to our commands in 45 milliseconds; 5G will reduce that to 1 millisecond! That's 400 times faster than the blink of an eye. This reduction in time delay will be beneficial for self-driving cars for instance, which require a continuous stream of data. The faster the information can be delivered to the autonomous vehicles, the better and safer they will operate.

 

Self-driving cars are just one example of how 5G can become a catalyst for the Internet of Things, an industry which is forecasted to at least double itself in number by 2025.

 

After all these incredible advancements, one wonders when we’ll be able to use 5G. According to many analysts: not until 2020, and even in 2025 5G will be behind both 3G and 4G in terms of global mobile connections.

 

Both 3G and 4G had the benefit of using the existing infrastructure to be set up due to the similarity in frequencies with FM radio. This has brought the costs of installation down and helped these generations to set up their mobile network across countries. In order for 5G to work properly, however, it requires a much higher frequency bandwidth, which will require brand new infrastructure. These higher bandwidth frequencies have shorter wavelengths which leads to another issue – they don’t travel very far. Whereas on 4G networks, you can go up to 10 kilometers and barely lose signal. 5G maxes out at about 300 meters, and it can’t even go through walls or rain.

 

Nevertheless, when 5G is established, it could change the way we connect to the internet at home and at work.

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