What Is The Fuss About 5G?

Superfast fifth generation, or 5G, mobile Internet services are already on offer. Although not avilable everywhere yet  and with a limited choice of handset supplier , although that will change in the coming months. So what difference will 5G make to our lives and what exactly is it? 

5G stands for fifth-generation cellular wireless, and the initial standards for it were set at the end of 2017. But a standard doesn't mean that all 5G will work the same, or that we even know what applications 5G will enable. There will be slow but responsive 5G, and fast 5G with limited coverage.  What, then, is all the fuss about 5G?

It's the next generation of mobile Internet connection and offers much faster data download and upload speeds.Through greater use of the radio spectrum it will allow far more devices to access the mobile internet at the same time.

The G in this 5G means it's a generation of wireless technology. While most generations have technically been defined by their data transmission speeds, each has also been marked by a break in encoding methods, or "air interfaces," that make it incompatible with the previous generation.

  • 1G was analog cellular.
  • 2G technologies, such as CDMA, GSM, and TDMA, were the first generation of digital cellular technologies.
  • 3G technologies, such as EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS, brought speeds from 200kbps to a few megabits per second. 
  • 4G technologies, such as WiMAX and LTE, were the next incompatible leap forward, and they are now scaling up to hundreds of megabits and even gigabit-level speeds.
  • 5G brings three new aspects to the table:
    • bigger channels to speed up data. 
    • lower latency to be more responsive.
    • the ability to connect a lot more devices at once for sensors and smart devices. 

5G is an enormous capital improvement project, replacing one wireless architecture created this century with another. Construction of 5G networks will require an estimated investment of over $2.7 trillion globally in 2020 alone

The single most important feature of 5G wireless technology for the telecommunications service providers, the transmission equipment makers, the antenna manufacturers, and even the server manufacturers is that once all of 5G's components are fully deployed and operational, you will not need any kind of wire or cable to deliver communications or even entertainment service to your mobile device, to any of your fixed devices (HDTV, security system, smart appliances), or to your automobile. 

If everything works, 5G would be the optimum solution to the classic "last mile" problem: Delivering complete digital connectivity from the tip of the carrier network to the customer, without drilling another hole through the wall. 

 The initial costs of these 5G infrastructure improvements may well be enormous ous and consumers have already demonstrated their intolerance for rate hikes. Trecover those costs, telecoms organisations will need to offer new classes of service to new customer segments, for which 5G has made provisions. Customers have to be persuaded that 5G wireless is capable of accomplishing feats not possible for 4G. 

Once complete, the 5G transition plan would constitute an overhaul of communications infrastructure unlike any other in history. Imagine if, at the close of the 19th century, the telegraph industry had come together in a joint decision to implement a staged transition to fax. That's essentially the scale of the shift from 4G to 5G. 

The 5G wireless standard aims to be global, which is the hard part, because each participating country (e.g., China, Russia, South Korea) or amalgamated body of countries (e.g., the EU, the UN) will maintain its own definition of 5G networks, its own concepts of 5G speed, and its own regulations for where 5G transmissions may take place.

Because of the much higher number of local transmitters required, 5G will primarily be an urban service for densely populated areas and the commercial reality of this means that for people in very remote areas, connectivity will only be patchy  without government subsidy making it worthwhile for network operators to go to more remote places.

ZDNet:        PCMag:       BBC:         Foreign Policy:

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