Make sure you're informed and knowledgeable about 5G - the next generation of mobile technology
The 5G switch-on is gathering pace and, with O2 set to unleash their 5G network in the next few weeks, consumers and businesses are more curious than ever about what the fifth generation of mobile technology can really offer them.
5G is undoubtedly the latest and greatest in mobile technology and its deployment will naturally mean faster speeds and lower latency but there’s still some confusion about how it could change the way we live and work.
We’ve compiled these questions and answers to give you everything you need to know about 5G to ensure you’re knowledgeable and informed before you think about upgrading your technology.
What is 5G?
5G is a new cellular-network technology and is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment, your 4G connection.
How does it work?
5G operates on three different spectrum bands which, although it might not seem important, it can have a huge effect on the way you use your technology. To help you understand the various technologies and spectrum bands involved in delivering a reliable mobile connection, we’ve explained each of the three below:
Low-band spectrum is quickly dying out. Despite the fact that it covers a huge area and, therefore, has wide penetration, the speed is an issue with low-band spectrum. Peak speeds are only around 100Mbps.
The mid-band spectrum provides faster coverage and lower latency than low-band spectrum. However, the drawback with the mid-band is that it doesn’t penetrate buildings as effectively as low-band spectrums do. Peak speeds are up to 1Gbps.
Networks can deploy 5G on mid-band spectrums though using a method called beamforming. Beamforming sends a single focused signal to each and every user, and systems monitor each user to make sure they have a consistent signal.
Networks can also use the MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) method to deploy 5G as MIMO groups multiple antennas onto a single box, and at a single cell tower, to create multiple simultaneous beams to different users
This is what most people think of when they think of 5G. High-band spectrum can offer peak speeds of 10Gbps and has extremely low latency.
At the moment though, there is low coverage area and building penetration is poor which means networks will temporarily ‘piggyback’ off the 4G technology while they work on building nationwide networks for 5G.
Since high-band spectrum sacrifices penetration and user area for high speed and coverage area, they will rely on small cells which are low-power base stations that cover small geographic areas. With small cells, carriers can improve overall 5G coverage area and, combined with Beamforming, small cells can deliver extremely fast coverage with low latency.
What will 5G do?
It will transmit data much more quickly than 4G and you’ll see much faster upload and download speeds. Latency, which is the delay while data is being sent, will also dramatically reduce, meaning everything will be much faster with a 5G connection.
It’ll be a major boost for businesses and gamers, and it could be a huge leap in other ways too.
5G will be, on average, around 20 times faster than 4G. This means you could download a whole TV series to your phone before Lord Alan Sugar can even say ‘you’re fired’. The apps and services you use, like video chat and mobile gaming, will be much quicker and 5G could also enable disruptive new wireless innovations, potentially powering the next big tech unicorn like Uber or Snapchat.
What could it mean for business?
Where do we start? It’s not an exaggeration to say that 5G could oversee the biggest overhaul in the business world that we’ve ever seen – there’s not an industry that won’t benefit once 5G becomes the ‘norm’.
According to an Ericsson survey, 92% of executives from 100 major global telecom operators agree that 5G will pave the way for new emerging technologies.
The main one, which will affect almost every industry, is the exciting changes which 5G will bring to the Internet of Things (IoT). Gartner speculates there will be 20.4 billion connected devices in the world by 2020, a number that will continue to rise.
The idea behind IoT is to have multiple connected devices gathering data in real-time over a particular period. However, the continuous exchange of data puts a strain on the network and the battery life of the devices. 5G will see a 90% reduction in network energy usage, with up to 10 years’ worth of battery life for low power IoT devices.
It’s a long way until 5G becomes mainstream, but businesses need to start developing and reimagining services and products to leverage 5G’s superior capabilities.
Will I need new devices to use 5G?
In terms of smartphones, yes you’ll need new handsets. Samsung and Huawei have already begun rolling out 5G compatible devices. Apple however seem to be a little behind, having just released the iPhone 11 series without 5G technology included.
If you’re not yet ready to upgrade, you’ll still be able to use your current smartphone on 4G networks until you’re ready to make the switch.
Are there any downsides to 5G?
There are some security concerns which are yet to be addressed by the major networks. Some privacy advocates claim that the fifth generational connectivity could make it easier for security services and governments to pinpoint precise locations of individual users, as their 5G phone will connect to multiple cell towers within the vicinity, making them easier to track.
There are also slight concerns about facial recognition software and its potential to vastly improve the software, again making it easier to track individuals on CCTV cameras.
Where is 5G available?
Vodafone: Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bolton, Bristol, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow, Lancaster, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newbury, Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton
EE: Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester
O2: 5G launching in five cities in October 2019
To upgrade your business to 5G today, find out more HERE