We have all read about the 5G's imminent arrival, however many people think that 5G is just faster than 4G. It's much more than that and the impact on our mobile phone is probably the least important benefit.
What is 5G?
Fifth generation wireless (5G) is a wireless networking architecture built on the 802.11ac IEEE wireless networking standard, which aims to increase data communication speeds by up to three times compared to its predecessor, 4G (IEEE 802.11n).
Advantages of 5G
Of course every generation of wireless technology brings faster and more reliable cellular and internet connections. Broadly speaking, 5G brings us three main benefits :
1. Faster speed - Transfer speeds will be about 10x higher than 4G. This has very little use to our mobile phones as we currently use them. With 5G we will be able to download huge HD videos quickly.
2. Lower latency/delays - 4G has a small but noticeable delay in the transmission and receipt of data. Gamers will identify with this and they hate it when their virtual player reacts sluggishly to their joystick command.
3. Better connectivity - 5G Cell towers will allow more devices and people to connect to it at the same time.
4. Reliability - No more dropped connectivity and calls. You certainly can't have an autonomous car losing connection.
Disadvantages of 5G
1. Less coverage - More bandwidth means the coverage contracts. Cells will need to be about 500m apart. This means that coverage will be restricted at first to very high density business districts. This means a huge and costly infrastructure rollout that will take a long time because it won't be enough to use existing masts.
2. Spectrum wars - Will the radio frequency be available. South Africa is in the early days of discussing spectrum usage and allocation. This could mean delays.
Applications of 5G
1. Virtual surgery - Low latency is critical to a surgeon performing an operation remotely. This creates the possibility that the surgeon could be in a different room, city or country.
2. Self driving cars - The instantly responsive network and the ability of future cars to talk to other cars and sensors built around the city will change driving remarkably.
3. Precision drones - Drones will be able to be more accurate, autonomous and useful.
4. Virtual/Augmented Reality - significant applications in retail, property, entertainment, gaming, manufacturing and tourism.
5. Manufacturing - Automation could create smart factories making processes more efficient and cut costs.
6. Retail - 5G will help customer visualise products and allow them to get more information on a product.
The rollout of 5G is going to require a lot more skills that are in short supply. Obviously, the network rollout skills will come first. 5G will also mean a higher demand for cloud-based, security, IOT and Big Data skills
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