View from the Edge
5G: Time to Take the Buzz Seriously
Everyone’s talking about 5G. But what is 5G? When will you get 5G? What does 5G mean for you?
5G is going to change your life, maybe slowly and imperceptibly at first. But it will impact everything mobile from how you stream video to how you interact with “smart” things.
We’re here to try to clear up some of the questions you may have about 5G and give you an idea of what you can expect in the coming years.
What is 5G?
5G is going to change our lives, professionally and personally. It is expected that 5G technology will have the same revolutionary effect on our society as did the introduction of transformative technologies, such as electricity and cars.
But what is 5G? Simply put, 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 of cellular technology (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 large-scale improvements. Specifically, 5G promises to deliver 1) speeds of 1 to 10 Gbps, up to 10 times faster than 4G, 2) ultra-low latency <1 mSec, and 3) effective IoT to a massive number of devices.
5G’s higher speeds, lower latency, and greater bandwidth will change what we expect from wireless technology and how we use it. You may not notice it, but you’ll feel the effects of 5G in everything.
Imagine video downloads and uploads that will take one or two seconds instead of minutes. You’ll get faster deliveries of the parts you need to manufacture widgets thanks to IoT and machine learning. Video conferenced meetings and remote learning will be crisper, clearer, and faster. Buildings will become smarter reducing your operating costs by as much as 30% or more. And we will try to remember what life was like before 5G. This is the promise of 5G.
So when does all this happen?
5G is Here, Now
We’ve all seen the ads, 5G is here, now. But it was a long time in the making. It took about 25 years to go from first-generation analog cellular (1G), introduced in the eighties, to the move to digital: 2G, 3G, and then to 4G, introduced in 2010 in the U.S. 5G has been in the works since 4G was released. Now that 5G is here, you can be sure that behind the scenes work is already happening for 6G.
It’s estimated that by 2024, 25% of mobile data traffic will be carried by 5G networks. So even if you don’t have 5G personally or professionally yet, chances are you, your co-worker, or your employer will soon. The number of 5G subscriptions will reach 190 million by the end of 2020 and an incredible 2.8 billion by 2025.1 Networks are projected to support a 66% increase in the number of mobile devices going from 3 billion to 5 billion. Of those, 60% will be 5G capable.
5G is most likely where you are already, especially if you’re in an urban area. Currently, all the major carriers are rolling out fixed and mobile 5G services. There are currently 82 5G networks globally. But it’s predicted that number will reach 206 by the end of 2020.2 We’ll need all those new networks too. According to Omdia, there were 63.6 million global 5G connections as of Q1 2020, which represents a 308.66% growth over Q4 2019.
1 Ericsson Mobility Report June 2020
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