Why we need 5G
First of all, what is 5G. 5G is the next generation of mobile network that is faster and more reliable. How fast? We don’t know exactly yet, but expect to be over a 1GBps. Most people are saying 10Gb/s. Some people say that it may be able to handle 800Gb/s.
Compared to today’s 4G LTE at 50Mbps its several orders of magnitude faster.
This isn’t something far into the future either. Development is happening now, and is expected to launch wider in 2020, 2 years from now.
The next generation of mobile devices must be capable of using this technology or risk becoming irrelevant. The US, China and South Korea are going to be the first to launch, followed by the UK. China has a slight lead over the US and South Korea thanks to government support and industry momentum.
A decade ago, the US expanded it’s 4G networks faster and further than other country did, and was rewarded. This included a $100 billion boost to the GDP, and an 84% increase in mobile related jobs. Today the the United States mobile industry supports 4.7 million jobs and adds $475 billion to the economy every year.
Being the leader in the sector will lead to jobs, while being at the tail end could see a contraction of the mobile sector for those countries. There is no second chance to be first.
Does this mean your mobile device, you have now, won’t work any more? No, 5G will work with 4G.
5G enabled smart phones will help rejuvenate the sluggish mobile phone market. It’s now growing at a mere 0.2% yearly.
It’s expected that by 2022 600 million 5G units will be sold, representing 31% of the global market. By 2025, it will be the most dominant mobile network.
There are eight criteria to qualify a network as 5G.
1-10 Gbps connections at the end points.
1 millisecond end to end latency
1000x bandwidth per unit area
90% reduction in energy use
up to 10 year battery life for low power devices
5G is going to change how we use our phones, support a wide range of IoT-connected devices, enable faster and more reliable video, and enhance VR and HR experiences.
With 5Gs minimal latency and remote processing power, VR devices like the HTC Vive will be able to be wireless and much lighter, which will make VR more real life-like. Current Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks put a ceiling on what is currently possible. 5G will allow remoting the horsepower to the cloud. HTC has already released a wireless version, but is on a dedicated network.
AR devices may be the biggest winners here. Mobile platforms like Magic Leap One, designed to go anywhere and project digital objects into the real world would greatly benefit from 5G’s speed. We’ll likely see AR tech implemented smart prescription eyewear. Expect Apple AR glasses, Microsoft’s Hololens, and Google Glass to leverage 5G.
Apple has already signaled that AR is their space by releasing the ARKit.
Another big winner will be self-driving cars. They have evolved from concept of the future to reality. Uber, Waymo, Toyota and Tesla have cars out there already driving themselves.
People are mainly concerned about safety. Will they ever be safe enough to be ready for widespread deployment? The answer is yes.
The first generation will be self-contained, and only able to see what it can see. Future generations of driverless cars will interact with other cars, see hazards beyond thier sensor range, around corners. Smart roads will make them safer and manage traffic more efficiently. Eventually, everything on the road will be talking to everything else.
For this to work we will need extremely low latency. While the cars will exchange small chunks of information, it has to be nearly instantaneously. 5G sub 1 millisecond latency fits the bill.
Today’s 4G networks are fast enough to order an Uber, but it won’t give driverless cars the human-like reflexes they need to prevent accidents from happening.
Smart Cities and Artificial Intelligence are all on the edge of major breakthroughs. They just need the data networks to catch up.
5G will connect way more devices than the current power hungry 4G networks, and modules will be less expensive. This will be a big win for the Internet of Things, which are mostly using Wi-Fi and 2G networks today.
Your phone will become a supercomputer with intelligence with a high-bandwidth connection to the world.
This may all sound like hype right now, but it is turning into reality. Verizon and AT&T plan to launch limited 5G services this year, while T-Mobile and Sprint are lining things up for next year.
Those who think this is just a lot of hype may be either missing the big picture or are purposely trying to put competitors to sleep.
This isn’t all going to happen in one shot. There will be some growing pains just like we have today with 4G LTE. One minute you’re streaming video, the next you’re on 3G, ahhh!
The winners will be those who can implement 5G with the fewest drops to 4G.
One question that’s up in the air is cost. Will it cost more? Will there be a premium to use the faster service? Are consumers willing to shell out the extra bucks when 4G streams video just fine? Cell phones don’t currently appear to be big winners, but that may be deceiving. We just haven’t imagined it yet.
For those working on self-driving and other tech that need 5G, keep it going. Its right around the corner. By 2023, there will be a billion 5G connections.
For those who aren’t seeing the big picture, or use case for the technology, remember this.
Each evolution of our global data network has brought incredible advancements to human civilization. It was not to long ago that using a phone to do anything other than making a call was all we could imagine. Today, we can’t imagine getting through the day without our phones to text, shop, connect with friends, order a ride, or google something.
5G will bring more breakthroughs than ever before.