The G in 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,” which make it incompatible with the previous generation.
5G networks are much more likely to be networks of small cells, even down to the size of home routers, than to be huge towers radiating great distances.
Some of that is because of the nature of the frequencies used, but a lot of that is to expand network capacity.
The more cells you have, the more data you can get into the network. 5G brings three new aspects to the table: greater speed (to move more data), lower latency (to be more responsive), and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once (for sensors and smart devices).
Like other cellular networks, 5G networks use a system of cell sites that divide their territory into sectors and send encoded data through radio waves. Each cell site must be connected to a network backbone, whether through a wired or wireless back-haul connection.
The actual 5G radio system, known as 5G-NR, won’t be compatible with 4G. But all 5G devices, initially, will need 4G because they’ll lean on it to make initial connections before trading up to 5G where it’s available.
5G networks need to be much smarter than previous systems, as they’re juggling many more, smaller cells that can change size and shape. But even with existing macro cells, Qualcomm says 5G will be able to boost capacity by four times over current systems by leveraging wider bandwidths and advanced antenna technologies.
The goal is to have far higher speeds available, and far higher capacity per sector, at far lower latency than 4G. The standards bodies involved are aiming at 20Gbps speeds and 1ms latency, at which point very interesting things begin to happen. It is basically an extremely fast internet connection which is faster than 4g.
To be specific, Samsung did some high profile 5G testing and it has recorded a maximum speed of 7.5 Gbps while stationary and 1.2 Gbps while moving. Also, Ericsson conducted a test showing that 5G can render 5 Gbps of speed.
Typically, a new generation is named (sometimes retroactively) when it denotes a significant leap in wireless mobile technologies. 5G might enable driver less cars, delivery drones, and may even replace the WiFi in your home and office.
As of now, no smartphone maker has announced the 5G supporting smartphone.
AT&T has proclaimed that it will be first with mobile 5G when it launches a network in 12 cities by the end of this year.
While it hasn’t given details, we think this will be “millimeter wave” 5G, which requires dense networks of cells that don’t reach very far (say, about 1000 feet each), but deliver extremely high speeds.
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