What is 5G?
5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks.
Quick history lesson: When time began (in the 1980s), all we had was 1G, and it was voice only: all phones were analog, and the tech’s maximum speed was 2.4 kbps. In the early nineties, we moved from analog to digital with 2G, enabling SMS and MMS. 3G changed the game in the late nineties with mobile data and video calls, and today we are able to enjoy 4G, which in 2008 brought us a variety of high-speed applications like video conferencing and online gaming.
The facets of each generation range from evolutionary to revolutionary, with some refining elements like connection speed and others focusing on breakthrough capabilities like 3D television or autonomous vehicles. Michael Collado does a fantastic job of explaining this idea here.
5G is going to take what 4G built and make it better, faster, stronger.
How fast is 5G?
In a word: Very. 5G is going to be at least 10x speedier, reaching everyday usage speeds of 100Mb per second when compared to 4G’s 10Mb per second—hitches like video buffering will be a thing of the past. At its theoretical best, you could download the entirety of Breaking Bad within minutes.
There’s no question that it’ll be faster than typical home Wi-Fi. It’s also got a huge bandwidth advantage and will be capable of simultaneously handling far more devices than 4G; this, combined with its fibre-level speed, makes applications like Virtual Reality and super hi-res (4K, 8K) video streaming viable.
What will happen to 4G?
Around the world, 2G/3G networks are being phased out in favour of 4G. So while we are talking about 5G right now, it will take years for mobile operators to roll out 5G across world. 5G technology is very “dense” in the sense that lots of masts are required to blanket an area with high speed connectivity.
We’re likely to see 4G stick around for another decade or two; it will be gently phased out as more and more applications are developed for 5G, which even 4G doesn’t have the capability of supporting.
When will I be able to get 5G?
Actual 5G access for smartphones is still on the far side of 2020. Initial 5G-branded services would be in the form of fixed wireless access and using a new generation of MiFi’s or routers. These type of services will be marketed as 5G, as they will be using the technology as an alternative to high speed fibre broadband.
Where will I be able to get 5G?
Enabling 5G access across a country or on a global scale is a big challenge to mobile network operators, as its completely new technology. Cell sites need to be deployed and “lit up”. Key population centers and trial cities will be the first to get the technology. While smartphone manufactures are already making some 5G-compatible devices, the initial rollout of 5G branded services would be fixed wireless access in a very select group of areas.
What will 5G do for IoT?
Innovators within the IoT sphere will see their operations transformed. More than a simple speed boost, 5G will pave the way for applications that currently struggle with latency problems. On a household level, this means webpages will load nearly instantly and online video games will see reduced ‘lag’; beyond this, the IoT possibilities are massive.
Self-driving vehicles will rely on 5G once it’s available—latency issues will no longer delay the split-second decision making vehicles need to carry out when following a route and maneuvering traffic. They’ll also be able to carry out vehicle-to-vehicle communications. Not to mention, with cars projected to consume around 4,000 GB of data within one hour on the road, they’ll need the speed and bandwidth afforded by 5G.
Haptic systems will also see huge improvement: virtual reality applications will be able to provide instant haptic feedback, which opens the gates for IoT tech like remote-surgery, remote-shopping and healthcare solutions, along with all kinds of potential entertainment and gaming-related possibilities.
What does 5G mean for the Channel?
It’s clear that 5G is going to make waves for anyone that deals with connectivity, directly or otherwise. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the Channel needs to drop everything in order to tunnel vision 5G: the key to maximising a capability lies in matching connectivity to the right solution, a point that I made in my IoT connectivity roadmap. There’ll be tech that will transform the world as we know it through 5G connectivity; and there’ll be new or even existing solutions that simply require different connective characteristics than what 5G can provide.
As I mentioned before, 5G will really shine when it comes to solutions that require ultra low latency; the main thing to do as a Channel player is ensure that you have a partner who’s prepared to deploy or resell 5G services, in order to cover all your IoT connectivity bases.