From a Mobile Phone Call…to 5G
Britain’s first mobile phone call was made on the 1st of January 1985, across the Vodafone network. Since, then, 32 years later, phones have changed massively, due to silicon technology increasingly being used. The device that could only do one things can now do pretty much everything. And most recently, with this advancement in mobile phone technology, the development of 5G has started.
What is 5G?
5G is the 5th generation mobile network, its predecessors being 4G and 3G to name a few. Like previous networks, it is also orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing based (OFDM), however the new 5G air interface will further enhance OFDM to deliver a much higher degree of flexibility and scalability. It will not only interconnect people, but it will also interconnect and control machines, objects and devices. It will create improved performance and efficiency that will create better and new user experiences and connect new industries.
What are the advantages/differences with 5G?
5G will have a much higher peak data rate. Currently, the typical peak data rate you would find in a household would be about 100mb/s, however when 5G is introduced this will hopefully be increased to 10Gb/s, allowing much faster rates of data transfer. The 5G network is also more reliable to use, at 99.999% reliable compared to the current 99.99% we have now. Latency is the time taken for a message you send to get across.
4G currently does that at 25ms (milliseconds), while 5G will allow this time to fall to only 5ms, allowing much quicker message sending. 5G also has more capacity than 4G, as currently 1 thousand devices can be used per km², but 5G will allow a massive 1 million devices to be used in the same area, making it perfect for densely populated places such as cities where there will be a high number of devices. Finally, the 5G networks will generate an estimated 10Tb (10 Terabytes) of data per km². To put this into context, this is currently what fibre optic cables running from Europe to the USA send now, showing the sheer scale and size that 5G will take.
Where may 5G be commonly used?
5G can be virtually used in anything. As well as making out smartphones better, it will also aid the development of more immersive experiences, such as VR, due do characteristics such as lower latency. I will also help transform some industries due to being ultra-reliable and having a low latency, such as the remote control of critical infrastructure, vehicles and medical procedures. Furthermore, it will connect a massive number of sensors in virtually everything, such as the accelerometer in phones, through the ability to scale down in data rates, power and mobility to provide low-cost solutions.
Are there any disadvantages with 5G?
5G could cost more to mobile phone producers to integrate this technology into their mobile phones. While this is not that much of an issue, the main problem would be for some handsets which are too old could be deemed out of date and may not be 5G compatible, meaning only the newest technology would have access to the best network. Also, with the addition of 5G to the wireless spectrum, this could cause the frequency range to become too overcrowded, and this may limit the efficiency and speed of 5G
The future of 5G
As 5G is still in development stage, it is not yet open for use by anyone. However, lots of companies have started creating 5G products and field testing them. Notable developments have come from Nokia, Samsung, BT and others, with other companies forming 5G partnerships and pledging funding to continue research and development into 5G. 5G isn’t expected until 2020 earliest, so there is still quite a bit of time before the general public will get to experience it first-hand.
32 years ago, a major breakthrough was made through that single telephone call, starting the journey of the advancement of digital communications that has now led to 5G being developed. So 32 years from now, who knows what could happen?