5G isn’t just hype or buzzword; it’s a reality! Although still under development and expected to hit the market at the horizon 2020, the new generation network will address the evolution beyond mobile internet to massive IoT (Internet of Things). Compared to its predecessor or the current 4G LTE technology, 5G emerging technology is targeting to reach both high speed (1 GBPS), low power and low latency (1ms or less), for massive IoT, tactile internet and other emerging applications. Long term Evolution or LTE falls short on these counts. It just delivers a minimum speed of 10 MBPS ranging up to theoretical 100 MBPS.
With the adoption of 3G technology, the use of mobile phones increased by manifolds. The trend continued, rather it speeded in 2011. The year marked the beginning of the current generation of mobile networks – 4G. Viewed as a true mobile broadband solution, the primary purpose of the new technology was to deliver faster speed.
The debut of 5G however, is believed to disrupt the existing trend. It promises to offer exponentially faster download and upload speeds. Part of the excitement surrounding 5G is its ability to create new services due to its speed and density support, but a different 5G benefit is yet to be realized fully. It could enhance the utility of the new network even furthermore. It’s Latency! 5G will be equipped to reduce network communication delays by a significant margin.
Lower latency could also enable the new generation network to develop capabilities that could let us do entirely new things. Possibilities include
House and cities are two examples of the big IoT revolution coming ahead, supported by 5G networks (If, at all policymakers allow it). If allowed, it will be one of the most transformative steps in the history of urbanization. Imagine, a 5G-connected streetlight and installed with a video camera that could provide valuable information to public safety officials so that they can respond faster in times of emergency. Even gunshot detection sensors placed at important landmarks could pass on some real-time telemetry that can be quickly assessed to make the city a safer place.
With the coming of 5G and super-low latency alongside it, Internet applications that meet human level response time could get a boost. Example, for a medical nano-surgery, intra-body robotics systems will allow the surgeons to perform real-time micro-machining. It could be like saving a life in situations where time and distance can make the difference between life and death. Moreover, factories could be adequately staffed by robots to communicate their task and position to each other. It will enable them to not only do more, but do it more efficiently, and wirelessly over a 5G network.
A network of self-driving cars enabled via 5G will be one of the biggest breakthroughs. Imagine all cars sending data to each other, communicating with traffic lights, road sensors, aerial drones all in real-time. It is estimated that human reaction speed is 200 milliseconds, a time lag considered as one of the major reasons for accidents. Vehicles powered by 5G will react in less than a millisecond. So, there will be almost no time lag between the event of perceiving a threat and responding to it. As such, there will be no risks for cars hitting each other. This capability will not just put an end to road accidents but traffic too. Who knows, autonomous or remotely controlled trains, delivery trucks or even airplanes could be on the horizon in the near future.
Challenges for 5G technology
Compared to earlier networks(2G, 3G, and 4G), 5G requires more base stations because the frequencies travel faster but do not cover large distances. So, additional hardware installation will be required but installing more hardware can be a challenge for operators because they need to find places to put the equipment. Besides, it increases the overall deployment costs.
Second, the need for security, privacy, and trust remains as strong as 4G if not more than it. With so much at stake, testing and assurance of nearly every aspect of the 5G technology will be critical. Lastly, every new technology has a cost curve to cover. If not addressed adequately, the limitation could slow down the penetration and reach of 5G. But, if its full potential is to be realized and utility harnessed, the technology should be made accessible to all.