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- 5G: An Ultimate Guide
What Is 5G Internet?
5G, or 5th Generation Wireless is expected to be rolled out across Australia in 2020. But what exactly is this new technology, how is it better than 4G, and what will it mean?
5G will succeed the 4G, 3G and 2G systems. 5G performance targets include high data rates, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity and massive device connectivity.
Let’s break all that down
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU)1 is the United Nations’ specialised agency for information and communications technologies. They maintain harmony between networks across the world by allocating spectrum and deciding on the framework for mobile technologies.
They are the reason why we can now travel all around the world and enjoy a seamless mobile experience (just be careful of international roaming charges). As network providers across the world begin to rollout 5G, plans are being guided by the ITU’s technical specifications for 5G2. The main features include:
From 4G to 5G, the information superhighway not only had an upgrade with extra lanes, but it’s like everyone has been handed a Ferrari to drive! While in theory the ITU says 5G could achieve up to 20 Gigabits Per Second (Gbps), early tests, like Telstra’s Gold Coast trial network have proven 3Gbps download speeds3.
The time it takes for data to travel between two points is known as latency. Whenever we surf the web using our mobile device, there’s a delay between when the signal is sent and when it’s received at the other end.
One of the big features of 5G is its ultra-low latency. Telstra demonstrated the technical capability of 5G’s low latency at its Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast4. They achieved a latency of 6 milliseconds, 4 times lower than the average 4G latency of 20 milliseconds.
Low latency and ‘ultra-reliable’ communications networks will support the delivery of critical communications5 to support public safety. It will also pave the way for technologies like autonomous vehicles and virtual reality.
In addition to automation, 5G could also take us into the realm of science fiction, promising technological advancement in areas including robotics and artificial intelligence.
Today’s networks were designed to deliver data to our devices. Tomorrow’s networks will need to cater for the increased demand for content and connectivity between devices – otherwise known as the Internet of Things (IoT)6.
This rapid growth can’t be sustained by the existing 4G network. 5G steps in to meet that demand for connectivity, anywhere, anytime with an expected 1 million connections per square kilometre5.
While high speed helps to upload and download video-based content faster and in larger volumes, high reliability will really set 5G apart from its predecessors5.
For the average customer that might mean call drop-outs are a thing of the past and buffering is just a distant memory. But the reliability of 5G will power new industries and inspire applications that were, until now, impossible to achieve.
These applications could include mission-critical services such as connected robotic factories. Combined with ultra-low latency, 5G reliability could make delay-critical services such as driverless cars a reality.
The more dense deployment of cells could also give rise to other approaches that improve the reliability of data transmission across the 5G network.
So where will 5G Internet take us?
5G is all about anytime, anywhere support for:
- Super-fast broadband that delivers gigabytes of bandwidth on demand
- Critical Machine-Type Communication (MTC) that requires high reliability for virtual reality applications such as autonomous driving
- Massive MTC connecting billions of sensors and machines all around the world, from phones to televisions, to solar cells and cars
In the not-so-distant future, 5G could connect factories and help create a fully automated and flexible production system.
In healthcare, hospitals could be able to arrange remote robotic surgeries as if the surgeon were in theatre next to the patient. At the same time, 5G connected healthcare chips could constantly monitor vital signs, prevent conditions from becoming acute, and adapt medication to meet changing conditions in the patient.
When can I surf the web in 5G?
According to Telstra, you can’t expect to enjoy the early benefits of 5G until 20207. And even then you’ll still be surfing on your old 4G device. Telstra plans to be the first Australian carrier to deliver 5G services, with Optus and Vodafone following shortly after.
Is it the same as 5G WiFi?
You might have seen “5G” on your router at home next to the name of your WiFi network. You could be forgiven for thinking it’s the same as 5th Generation Wireless technology, but they’re two different things.
The airwaves are getting more and more crowded as more and more wireless devices hit the mainstream. Currently, most Wi-Fi systems run on what’s called the 2.4GHz band, which has been a very effective frequency for Wi-Fi.
Due to a growing demand on the frequency with devices such as mobile phones, watches, tablets, microwave ovens, baby monitors, car alarms and TVs, you can imagine it would be quite busy.
The solution for this problem is the 5GHz band. The primary differences between the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz wireless frequencies are range and bandwidth. 5GHz provides faster data rates at a shorter distance, whereas 2.4GHz offers coverage for farther distances, but may perform at slower speeds.
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