Everything You Need to Know about 5G Technology

April 15, 2019 | 12:01
Everything You Need to Know about 5G Technology
Everything You Need to Know about 5G Technology
Within tech circles, 5G technology has been all anyone’s been talking about ever since the very first 5G broadband service launched last year. Promising incredible speeds, almost non-existent lag and the ability to transfer vast amounts of data across a significant amount of devices, it is only a matter of time before the wider adoption of this technology – both in the private sector and in many industries. Designed specifically to meet the growth in digital connectivity and data usage of today’s society, industry experts will realise that 5G also goes hand in hand with another exponentially growing tech trend – the Internet of Things. In this article, we’ll talk you through everything you need to know before 5G hits industries, and the manifold opportunities it provides for engineers.
How does 5G work?
The 5G network makes use of a much higher frequency to send its signals than that available to the 4G network. At 5G frequencies between 24 and 100GHz, also called millimetre wave, 4G, which uses frequencies between 2 and 8GHz, can barely compare. In this case, higher frequencies mean higher speeds – but also a decrease in wavelength and hence distance of signal coverage. Another downside of millimetre wave signals is that they are more affected by obstacles like walls, trees or even rain. This means that, for comprehensive 5G coverage to become a reality, a large amount of smaller mobile transmitters will need to be implemented closer to the ground.
Initially, however, 5G will operate together with the existing 4G network until sufficient coverage has been achieved. As 5G is not exclusively bound to millimetre wave signal but can also use the full 4G spectrum – a type of signal called Sub-6 – coverage can still be ensured, however, at the cost of 5G perks. Implementing more transmitters is a project that will be slowly completed over time as it is connected with massive infrastructure costs, and rural areas in particular may never be covered by the 5G network.
5G applications
As already mentioned, 5G provides faster, more reliable downloads and a significant reduction in lag. Just what that means for its applications, though, cannot be overstated. 5G opens up a world of futuristic technology that now does not seem so far away. Connected, self-driving cars that are coupled with both augmented and virtual reality and can seamlessly communicate with other vehicles, pedestrians or infrastructure will be closer than ever before, with the necessary speed and ability to process high data volumes finally enabling a safe experience. And, by integrating security into its core network architecture, 5G can also provide an extremely reliable and secure network for IIoT applications, much to the benefit of industrial facilities. In healthcare, it is primarily the lack of latency that can make a real difference, for example by transforming the industry with the possibility of performing remote surgeries, or even just providing live transmissions that can be monitored remotely. It is important to keep in mind, however, that 5G is still in its infancy, and it is going to be a while before real applications for the IoT based on 5G start to be deployed. It also remains to be seen whether LoRa, SigFox and NB-IoT will be supported by 5G. Currently, they are very much being framed as competing services, and engineers will have to consider this when planning for the future.
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