You can not miss the 5G hype at CES 2018, and 2019 is the same. Everyone – from Samsung and Intel to mobile operators and smartphone companies – wants you to know how fantastic 5G will be. Samsung called it "wireless fiber," promising high-speed, low-latency Internet everywhere. 5G is supposed to be faster today than a typical internet connection for a home cable … and it is also wireless.
What is 5G?
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5G is the industry standard will replace the currently widely used 4G LTE standard, as well as replace 4G 3G. 5G stands for "fifth generation" ̵
This standard is much faster than the current 4G LTE technology. But it's not just about accelerating internet connections for smartphones. It's about enabling wireless Internet everywhere, from networked vehicles to smartphones and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
In the future, your smartphone and all other mobile devices will use 5G instead of 4G LTE technology they are likely to use today.
How fast will 5G be?
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Technology companies promise plenty of 5G. While 4G is at theoretical 100 megabits per second (Mbps), 5G is 10 gigabit bits per second (Gbps). This means that 5G is a hundred times faster than the current 4G technology – anyway at theoretical maximum speed.
For example, the Consumer Technology Association pointed out that at this rate, you could download a two-hour movie 3.6 seconds at 5G versus 6 minutes at 4G or 26 hours at 3G.
It's not just a throughput. 5G promises a significant reduction in latency, which means faster load times and improved responsiveness to virtually all Internet activity. Specifically, the specification promises a maximum latency of 4 ms at 5 G versus 20 ms at 4 G LTE today.
At these speeds, 5G surpasses the current home cable Internet connections and is comparable to fiber. Fixed-line Internet companies such as Comcast, Cox and others may be exposed to serious competition – especially if they are the only option for fast internet at home in a particular area. Wireless network operators can offer an alternative without having to lay physical cables in every home.
The moderators wanted 5G to enable super-fast, virtually unlimited Internet anywhere and for all devices. In the real world, of course, Internet service providers use data caps. For example, even if your wireless service provider gave you a 100 GB data collection cap-far greater than most plans today-you could blow that out in a minute and 20 seconds at the maximum theoretical speed of 100 GBit / s. It is unclear which caps will ultimately be imposed by the wearers and how much this will affect their use.
How 5G Works
5G uses a lot of technology to achieve these high speeds. There is not just an innovation. The IEEE Spectrum Magazine can explain many technical details in more detail, but here is a brief summary.
The new standard will use a completely new 4G frequency band. 5G takes advantage of "millimeter waves" that radiate at frequencies between 30 and 300 GHz compared to the bands below 6 GHz used in the past. These were previously only used for communication between satellites and radar systems. However, millimeter waves can not readily travel through buildings or other solid objects. That's why 5G also uses "small cells" – smaller miniature stations that can be set up in densely populated urban areas approximately every 250 meters. These provide better coverage in such places.
These base stations also use "massive MIMO". MIMO stands for "Multiple Input" with multiple outputs. You can even have a home wireless router with MIMO technology, which means multiple antennas can be used to communicate with multiple different wireless devices instead of switching quickly between them. Massive MIMO uses dozens of antennas on a single base station. They will also use beamforming to better direct these signals by directing the radio signal into a beam directed at the device and reducing interference to other devices.
5G base stations also run in full-duplex mode, meaning that they can be transmitted and transmitted simultaneously on the same frequency. Today they have to switch between transmit and listen modes and slow things down. This is just a snapshot of the technology that makes 5G so fast.
When will it be available?
In the United States, Verizon will launch a non-standard version of 5G in 2018 in the second half of the year, in five cities for Internet access at home. Mobile phones that support 5G can not connect, but not for mobile phones anyway – just as a way to provide wireless home Internet service wirelessly.
AT & T promises to introduce 5G for mobile phones by the end of 2018, but the real, widespread 5G deployment is unlikely to start before 2019. T-Mobile has promised to begin nationwide coverage in 2020 by 2020. Sprint announced the introduction of 5G at the end of 2019. With schedules like these, 5G technology is unlikely to be widespread until 2020 at the earliest.
Qualcomm, which manufactures chips for many Android phones, has promised 5G phones for 2019. And yes, you need to get a new phone and other 5G mobile devices, just as mobile operators need to replace their hardware for 5G support.
You'll hear a lot more about 5G over the next few years as the rollout actually starts, but the hype engine is already starting. Take the maximum theoretical speeds with a grain of salt and get ready to wait a few years for the wide coverage, but be excited – the wireless internet will soon be much faster.