5G is the fifth generation of cellular wireless/mobile technology. First there was 1G that was built from nothing — a clean sheet of paper. Every subsequent generation (2G, 3G, and 4G) has been incrementally built on top of the preceding generation and offers increased capacity and speed. 5G will continue this evolution but promises to make large scale improvements. Specifically, 5G promises to deliver 1) speeds in excess of 1 Gbps up to ten times faster than 4G, 2) ultra-low latency <1 mSec, and 3) effective IoT to a massive number of devices.
There are two frequency bands that 5G networks can operate on: sub-6 GHz and above 30 GHz millimeter waves (mmWave). 4G networks use frequencies below 6 GHz.
The higher frequencies above 30 GHz can carry a lot of data very quickly and are better for use in high-density, high-traffic areas such as airports, convention centers, and stadiums. Millimeter wave networks are limited in range (often less than a square mile) and data is easily blocked by trees and buildings. So to accommodate users in high-density areas, many, many small antennae have to be installed for direct line-of-sight service. The smaller 5G antennas provide precise directional control where as 4G towers send data in all directions.
Low-band frequencies, such as the sub-6 GHz range, can provide 5G service in lower density areas and high density areas that don’t have direct line-of-sight to a 5G mmW cell.
4G isn’t going away and there will be no hard cut over. 4G and 5G will coexist. For instance, if your device drops a 5G signal, it will fall back on 4G LTE.
It’s estimated that 80% of all wireless traffic originates indoors so 5G service will be critical to IoT applications such as smart retail, healthcare, hospitality, finance, as well as enterprise communications.
The first release of 5G, in late 2017 by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), was for non-standalone 5G New Radio (5G NR). 5G NR is a set of standards that replace the LTE network 4G wireless communications standard. An important goal of 5G NR is to support the growth of wireless communication by enhancing electromagnetic radiation spectrum efficiency.
2020 should see 5G make a more meaningful impact on consumers and enterprises. There are some 5G devices and smartphones available now. It’s expected that there will be up to 20 new 5G devices by the end of 2020, including smartphones, driven by the Apple iPhone 12.
There are a number of reasons including the high-cost to implement the 5G mmW network, and the acquisition of local regulatory approvals for construction of the dense antenna sites. It’s estimated that telecom companies will invest as much as $275 billion into 5G infrastructure before 2025.
No. LTE growth will continue. Since many bands currently used for 3G and LTE will be reallocated to 5G over the coming years, building a strong RF path today will ensure a solid 5G foundation tomorrow.
5GE is not 5G. It stands for 5G Evolution and it’s the name for AT&T’s existing 4G LTE Advanced service.
5G can help businesses increase efficiency while reducing costs particularly as IoT fuels innovations in retail, hospitality, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, transportation, public safety, and other applications. Business leaders should budget for 5G equipment and plan for more automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics.