They say 5G is going to completely change our lives – from as simple to gaming, to driving, to as complex as medical care. This shift will be a once in a decade upgrade for our wireless systems. Now, that all sounds great but what is it and when can I get it? So, let us discuss, all about the upcoming 5G network.
Well, there’s a brand new, second generation
When we got 1G it was for voice calls only, but then 2G gave us text messages, 3G added that multimedia support that we can’t imagine being without like video chats and faster speeds, and now we have 4G – which has all the features of 3G. But an added bump of speeds from 14 Mbps to 100Mbps which changed the game. Now we have video chats in HD, HD mobile TV, and live streamed apps but this next one is going to be big.
What can we expect.
5G is anticipated to give users the fastest connectivity they’ve ever experienced. It’s thought to be so fast it’d compete with our current fiber optic cables we have in our homes and about ten to a hundred times faster than the phone you currently have in your hand. But other than the major benefits of downloading “8K” videos in seconds, and using VR and AR seamlessly (goodbye buffering) why does the world want data coming in so fast?
Well, 5G connectivity promises reduced latency, or lag time, to practically zero. Meaning devices can communicate with each other in nearly real-time. We’re talking about major improvements in the responsiveness in devices that use sensors to make important decisions; like self-driving cars that need to suddenly brake, or industrial robots that can be sent to hazardous areas and be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world or better yet, anything in the healthcare field. From telemedicine, precision surgical robots, to remote surgery, or even virtual physical therapy sessions. All this without any data slow down. But wait, how does any of this work?
How does it work?
Well, 5G systems will run on smaller what they call, cell sites, that divide their territory into different sections. Then, exchanges between cell sites and devices are made with encoded data, through radio waves, called OFDM. This encoding isn’t much different from what 4G LTE uses, but the frequencies they use within the spectrum are right now the low-band spectrum that 4G LTE travels on is overly crowded and therefore we can only expect speeds up to 2Gs.
Also Read : The need of Quantum Computing
5G can currently travel on a couple of kind of airwaves. One low-band frequency and one high-frequency. The plans are for low-band frequency 5G to operate through 4G cell sites that companies already have in place. But the encoding will be more flexible and use a bigger channel size to get up to 50 percent better speeds than LTE. This isn’t too bad. But since we want the multi-gigabit, ultra-fast, speeds, we’re going to use higher frequencies on the millimeter wave spectrum. Now it slightly varies, but millimeter waves are signals estimated to be above 24GHz or 30GHz range where there’s enough spectrum available to create big channels for very high speeds. But what researchers have been struggling with is the fact that these wavelengths are easily blocked and can only go very short distances.
So, a new infrastructure is needed. That’s why we have to get the small cell sites. Hundreds, if not thousands of lower-power base stations (outputting only 2-10 watts each) will have to be built in and around city homes to keep the connectivity in place. There are select places around the U.S. that actually already have some of them, BUT we still need our devices to upgrade to get the speeds we want.
This is where the Qualcomm chip comes in. Qualcomm is a wireless chip maker and they’ve been the forefront of advancements in chip technology since the 3G era. Their new one, creatively called Snapdragon X55 5G, is a millimeter wave modem that would run along their new millimeter wave antenna the QTM525. The idea is that these modules will help smartphones connect to the new and improved network of 5G as well as stay connected to the previous G’s 2 through 4. They anticipate that phone makers will embed three or four modules in their devices, so the device always gets a signal from one module even if the others are blocked by something like your hand.
And Qualcomm is not the only one, there are other brands that are in the works to make 5G happen for the consumer market. So, for us to really reap the benefits of this all-powerful 5G speed. The whole infrastructure needs to change. You can’t have the 5G phone without the 5G network, and you can’t have the 5G network until you get the mini cell towers, but companies are making massive strides. Most of the phones and networks are planning to launch at the end of 2019. So, keep your eyes peeled, and your phones ready to throw out get ready for the upcoming 5G network.