The next generation of consumer data transmission technology: explained

Accelarating to 5G

5G- Answering the What, How & When

If only I had a rupee for every time I heard a tech company executive say – “The future is wireless”.

As we’ve seen with the half-demise of the headphone jack, that may or may not be true, but one thing is certain: the future is fast.

With all major smartphone makers rushing to show off their newest “5G-Ready” device, we’re looking at the dawn of a new era of data transfer, backed by blazingly-fast smartphones, “Internet of Things” appliances, Virtual and Augmented Realities and an infinite list of upcoming technological feats of excellence.

Answers to all your questions about the fifth generation of data transmission technology, ahead.

What is 5G?

5G is a term devised by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), an international consortium of telecom organizations, which refers to the fifth generation of technology in cellular networking. It is the next leap in mobile technology and will dictate how devices of the future transfer data. By recent estimates, it’s going to make our current LTE networks feel like primitive caveman technology.


A History Lesson: The first generation of mobile networks (now retroactively referred to as 1G) appeared around 1981 and remained fully analog till the launch of 2G, which was digital by its launch in ‘91. Over the next few years, 2G saw the introduction of GPRS and EDGE technologies. A decade passed before the launch of 3G and almost another decade later, we arrived at LTE and advanced its technology to what we call 4G.

Every generation of wireless transmission hardware has brought faster and stronger connections. The first-generation allowed communication between mobile phones, 2G allowed efficient phone calls while introducing internet and text messaging. Then 3G became the backbone of the smartphone revolution and 4G gave you data speeds high enough to stream all those seasons of Game of Thrones HD on your phone.

5G vs 4G

5G vs 4G

Cellular transmissions happen over radio waves, which is usually measured using different frequencies. 5G introduces a millimeter wave (mmW ) tech utilizing wavelengths 30 GHz and 300 GHz. This millimeter wave technology promises higher data capacity than current systems.

Effectively, 5G brings 3 major upgrades:

Speed: 5G is claimed to be as much as 10x faster than 4G. That means the seriously fast transmission of images and the ability to stream ultra high-definition videos. VR stream gaming in 4k on your phone? No problem.

No More Jitters: There is a brief lag in time between when data is sent and when it’s received. This response time is often referred to as Ping, Jitter or Latency. 5G will greatly reduce this phenomenon, making it possible to watch live video with no delays. We’re talking about things like real-time responses in games over the cloud in VR, blurring the lines between what’s virtual and what’s real. WOAH.

Stay Connected: 5G technology would enable cell towers to have exponentially higher capacities. This means more and more devices should be able to communicate at the same time. This is huge for the Internet of Things and connected tech ecosystems.

Sweet, where can I get some?

Sadly, nowhere. Companies like Samsung and Intel have already developed tech capable of utilizing 5G’s upgrades but the infrastructure is extremely expensive (hundreds of billions) and it has barely begun setting up. Major telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon have begun testing infrastructure and the final product of their efforts is expected to reach the American consumer in 2020, while international users may have to wait a year or two extra.

On the brighter side, when 5G comes, it will come with huge capabilities and even more room for innovation. What are the new experiences that will come with these countless possibilities? Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

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