Technology continues to grow and expand seemingly every day as developers realize more and more of their dreams of an advanced, ultra-connected world, and the next major hurtle to jump is the network these devices will communicate on. In order to supply the ever-increasing demand for more data, more speed, more everything, the innovators of the tech world are presenting the 5G network.
5G is the long awaited 5th generation of wireless technology designed for digital cellular networks. And if early testing results are any indication, 5G is going to leave the existing 4G network in the dust. Estimated to be 10 to 100 times faster than the 4G network, 5G will accomplish this feat with the use of millimetre waves and “small cells” to bring the fastest network to the everyday world.
Beginning its deployment in 2019, 5G has been available in only a few cities around the world, and within those cities it is not yet available city-wide. This is due to the fact that 5G uses millimetre waves in its network instead of more traditional radio frequencies, allowing it to handle more data at once. The downside of this is that the millimetre waves can only travel a short distance of approximately 100 metres and has difficulty travelling through solid objects, such as walls. So traditional cell towers seen covering large expanses of an area will not work for this network.
The solution to this problem is with the useful technology of “small cells”. Instead of seeing a large antenna sitting atop a cell tower, we will begin to see small subtle boxes placed on buildings and even on top of telephone poles. These small cells will contain not one antenna, but many small antennae, allowing for massive-input, massive-output (MIMO) and increasing the amount of data that can be sent and received simultaneously. Small cells also require much less energy to run them and can handle many different frequencies at once. All of these factors play into how 5G is going to deliver the fastest network to date.
But what does that mean for those of us on the ground? Once the 5G network is up and running, consumers should see significantly reduced download time, with the goal of 1 gigabit per second; this high bar has been reached in a few of the US cities 5G is being tested in. Also, the creators are also aiming to reduce the latency of the network down to 1 millisecond!
Aside from being able to download a full-length movie in seconds, this network opens the gate to many exciting possibilities, with a major one being smart cities. Think of autonomous vehicle fleets safely navigating the roads and traffic seamlessly shifting to avoid congestion, accidents, and all those annoying things human drivers tend to do. Think of flocks of drones whizzing around in the sky to deliver you that Starbucks you ordered mere moments ago. Put on your smart glasses of the future and interact with your surroundings through augmented reality available city-wide! With a network capable of handling heavy data streams with almost no lag, the future possibilities are only limited by what the great tech minds of our age can think up!