5G, the new technology for mobile communications, is developing quickly and the impact is immense. Soon, governments, carriers and companies will be using it for strategic purposes.
Why is 5G more than just another innovative technology? Well, due to the huge improvements in transmission speed/latency, bandwidth, coverage and signal quality – all sorts of new applications are coming into the picture. Newly emerging applications like the Internet of Things, self driving cars, and virtual reality will accelerate with 5G and come into our daily life at work, home and on the move. This technology also affects you, Pokemon Go addicts. Soon, technologies like wifi, or even cable networking, may become obsolete.
Some recent developments
China Mobile recently conducted the world’s first 5G-enabled drone prototype field trial. There, a drone controlled by the operator’s network flew with handovers between cells across multiple sites. If proven effective, this potential use could dramatically impact things like emergency services. It also emphasises the importance of reactive networks with end-to-end low latency to ensure the safety and reliability of such functions. In fact, the drones could provide a backbone for China’s communications in case of a major calamity, such as an earthquake.
Optimization of latency is one of the project’s key aims. The drone trial showed the feasibility of mission-critical use by successfully deploying the 5G network at the edge of a cell before handing over to the next. But, how low can it go? Singtel, the Singapore based telecommunications provider, demonstrated live video streaming with prototype radios that achieved a peak throughput of 27.5 Gbps and latency as low as 2ms. That’s close to the critical 1ms barrier!
Governments are very keen on the implementation of 5G technologies, as their economies and their demand for labor forces will get a major boost from the spin-offs. By 2025, in the EU alone, 5G is expected to generate the benefits of €95.9 bn per annum in just four verticals (automotive, healthcare, transport and utilities), and another €50.6 bn in smart cities, non-urban areas, smart homes and workplaces.
European telecom carriers, sensing this urge to move forward with their governments, already have proposed to speed up their investments and implementations for the loosening up of network neutrality regulations in return. But this isn’t such a great idea since strict net neutrality is critical for a prospering digital economy – as the evolution of the internet has proven. The telecom industry warns that the current net neutrality guidelines create significant uncertainties around 5G return on investment. Investments are therefore likely to be delayed unless regulators take a positive stance on innovation, and stick to it. Read: do what we want, or else….
Anyways, analysts expect 2020 to mark the commercial launch of 5G – which is right around the corner.
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