What does 5G stand for and how fast is it? All you need to know

What does 5G stand for and how fast is it? All you need to know

As billions of more devices connect to the web, the entire infrastructure needs to accommodate traffic not only to support faster connections but also to handle simultaneous connections better and provide broader coverage for these devices. This is what 5G is all about.

What is 5G?

Lately, we hear it everywhere, on the web, in the written press, on television, it is possibly one of the consequences of Donald Trump’s policy against Chinese technology companies like Huawei. In Spain, the company Vodafone already begins in June 2019 to implement its 5G network in 15 Spanish cities such as Barcelona, ​​Madrid or Bilbao, among others. But do you know what 5G is?

5G is the next generation of mobile network technology after 4G. Like all previous generations, 5G’s goal is to make mobile communication faster and more reliable as more and more devices connect online.

Unlike in the past, when mobile networks only needed to support mobile phones that were only for surfing the Internet and sending text messages, we now have all kinds of devices that demand bandwidth, such as our high-definition transmission smartphones, watches smart with data plans, always-on security cameras, home automation devices like smart speakers connected to the internet, and other promising devices like health sensors and network-connected AR and VR hardware.

As billions of more devices connect to the web, the entire infrastructure needs to accommodate traffic not only to support faster connections but also to handle simultaneous connections better and provide broader coverage for these devices. This is what 5G is all about.

How 5G Can Benefit You

  • Minimal delay in streaming videos and playing games
  • Safer cities with smart, interconnected vehicles
  • Almost instant access to most online files
  • Smaller devices downloading hardware requirements to remote servers
  • The explosion of new products and applications requiring ultra-fast speeds
  • Reliable internet in remote areas

How is 5G different from the other “Gs”?

5G is simply the next generation numbered after 4G, which replaced all older technologies.

  • 1G introduced the analog voice
  • 2G introduced digital voice
  • 3G introduced mobile data
  • 4G paved the way for widespread use of the mobile Internet

What will 5G be used for?

This may seem obvious given how ubiquitous smartphones are, but while phones are a significant player in mobile communication, they certainly aren’t the only focus on a 5G network.

As you’ll see later, the key components with 5G are ultra-fast connections and minimal lags. Although this is, of course, great for anyone streaming video from their phone, it is more important in scenarios where minimizing delays is really important, such as for interconnected devices.

An application could be augmented reality devices or virtual reality headsets. These devices require a tremendous amount of bandwidth and need to communicate over the Internet as quickly as possible to provide the desired effects. Any latency can have a drastic impact on how “real” things feel in these virtual environments.

The same applies to any other devices that need to respond quickly, such as autonomous cars to avoid sudden collisions and understand proper turn-by-turn instructions, remotely operated hardware, and robotic systems that learn or operate by remote controls.

That said, 5G continues to pave the way for smoother connectivity from our everyday devices, such as when we play games, make video calls, stream movies, download files, share HD and 4K media, receive real-time traffic updates, vlogging. , etc.

5G is so fast that it will not only be available for mobile devices. It has the potential to replace your high-speed wired connection through fixed wireless access completely. Let’s take a closer look at each field what 5G will entail.

Broadband internet everywhere

Broadband is currently defined by the FCC as an Internet speed of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, which is an increase compared to the 4 Mbps and 1 Mbps defined in 2010. However, both are much slower than 5G speeds, which are expected to range from 300-1,000 Mbps, and even higher in some cases.

As of 2018, the average download speed for mobile users in European countries such as France, Germany or the United Kingdom and the USA. It was around 27 Mbps, but with the latest generation of wireless technology, anyone accessing a 5G mobile network can take broadband internet with them everywhere.

5G is also available for home or business use through a fixed wireless access (FWA) connection. This means that an entire building can obtain a direct 5G connection from a nearby cell. Within that building, each device can take advantage of 5G speeds through existing Wi-Fi connections, including televisions, video game consoles, telephones, desktop computers, laptops, etc.

This type of connection becomes very interesting when used outside the city. It is not uncommon for people in the heart of a big city, or even in the suburbs, to have a fast Internet. What is unusual is that people in less populated areas of any country have a fast and reliable connection.

When 5G is installed on the edge of a city or further afield in rural areas, these residents can finally upgrade to something much better than satellite, even if it’s not as high-quality as what is found in densely populated areas.

Smart vehicles, cities and factories

The vehicles are already pretty smart, with smart car add-ons and built-in features like automatically turning on lights and wipers, adaptive cruising speed, lane control, and even semi-autonomous driving. However, 5G will allow a quantum leap in automotive technology.

As with any other change that 5G will bring, ultra-reliability and high-bandwidth connections are the driving force behind a smart city. When communication is almost instantaneous, and everything in the vicinity can talk to each other, everything can interconnect and provide efficiency like never before.

An example is smart traffic controls. When an entire city is online with 5G, and cars can communicate directly with other cars and traffic lights, the traffic lights will respond appropriately. One day, you can stop waiting at a stoplight when there are no other vehicles around; The system will know when other vehicles are approaching fast enough to ensure there is a red light next to you, otherwise it will allow you to cross the intersection smoothly.

Vehicles, specifically autonomous or self-driving vehicles, require the GPS to know exactly where they are located. While GPS is already super accurate, and the latest generation of GPS chips are even more accurate, direct car-to-car communication will make the whole experience even better, specifically when it comes to alternate routes and security.

Avoiding stacks and traffic jams are other examples of how 5G will change the way we drive. They occur when the cars in front slow down to the point that everyone behind them has to stop to avoid an accident. Before you know it, dozens of vehicles are full, and it takes forever for someone to get going again.

Vehicle communications on a 5G network will not allow you to go that far, as each car will know where the others are and will know in advance, long before the user, that it is necessary to create a new route or adjust the speed to that traffic flows smoothly. This type of always-on data cannot transmit smoothly, or on time if the area is congested with much more wireless traffic, 5G is built to withstand these huge data demands.

Since autonomous cars rely on a high-bandwidth network and rural areas will someday gain access to broadband Internet, smart cars will eventually be able to be used in rural areas. This will allow safe transportation for disabled people, the elderly and others who cannot drive on their own.

Another potential use case for a smart 5G city when it comes to safety is directing traffic-stopping or slowing down school buses, construction, trains, and other dynamic scenarios that require extra attention. If 5G-connected sensors are installed in a construction zone, or if school buses communicate directly with other vehicles, drivers can be alerted before entering areas they need to remain alert or come to a complete stop.

Factories can also benefit from 5G, not only in automation but also in allowing heavy machinery to be operated remotely, making it easier to prevent dangerous situations. Instant feedback is necessary, and 5G has low latency to support it.

Smart farms will also emerge from 5G connectivity, not only to provide better harvests but also to save money. Super accurate farm equipment, along with ground sensors, means farmers will have instant updates on their crop performance, allowing them, or even equipment, to respond appropriately and faster than ever.

To all of the above, add drones to the image for complete automation: crops can be watered when necessary, and animals are fed on time, while the user sits down and receives instant updates on their phone about how things are going.

All on-demand, on-demand

In 4G or a low-bandwidth Wi-Fi connection, you are likely to experience delays when watching live TV such as news or a sports program, or playing your favourite video game. Movies and shows can buffer while waiting for more data to download.

We could go on and on about other not-so-positive experiences with online services supposedly “on demand.” 5G, on the other hand, is built to minimize the delays that these issues cause and to provide a large pipeline in which data can travel to reach your devices almost instantly.

Online gaming and video/audio chat are other areas where the power of 5G can be seen. A lag-free experience is required for the game to run smoothly and have the best gaming experience. Real-time feedback is required during an internet video call, especially in professional settings.

5G is also laying the groundwork for a new form of communication. It is being used to test 3D hologram calls, with applications ranging from games to a more luxurious experience during business calls and remote education.

Another 5G use case is in web applications. While it is true that downloading applications is as easy as downloading any program, and 5G makes the whole experience seem instantaneous, you can free up storage space and avoid installation steps using a web-based application that is already set up and ready to go. Transmit it from a web browser.

In other words, 5G will bring a world where the user needs very little storage on their phone because everything, including their applications, is instantly available from the cloud.

To take this further, imagine a game console that works for years longer than it does today because you’ll never have to upgrade. Instead of getting a different console with a new disk reader that supports bigger games, or better hardware to handle the newer titles, all that processing power could be offloaded to a remote server and then transmitted to your device in real-time.

The same could be said for computers: give it basic hardware and access to a fast remote server, and with a 5G connection, all your computer needs could be passed back and forth between the ultra-fast server hardware.

AR and VR immersion

Augmented reality (RA) and virtual reality (RV) are technologies that require a lot of bandwidth and that 5G can handle without problems. Immersive games played in AR and VR are one of the most talked-about use cases for 5G, but that’s not all that can be done with these reality hacking technologies.

Sport is another area in which the RV will shine. A soccer player, for example, can carry a head-mounted camera to broadcast his point of view, in real-time, to anyone connected to the camera. Users can use a virtual reality headset to get a first-hand experience of the player while on the field.

Because augmented reality projects digital data into the real world around you interrupting your field of vision, the number of applications is almost unimaginable. With everything that can be done with RA in so many situations, and with 5G capable of sending information to and from the RA device in real-time, there is a lot of excitement about the future of this industry.

Some of the first and simplest examples of 5G AR include projecting emails and text messages in the room the user is in, creating multiple floating monitors to enlarge their computer screen and enhance gaming, and the mounting a virtual high definition television in your living room.

VR and AR headsets are out now, but 5G is the only way to use them seamlessly on a mobile network and in conjunction with other network-enabled devices. Plus, with near-instant access to the cloud where everything can be remotely processed, these devices can be made thinner and smaller.

Smarter health care

Sharing information with your doctor or with a system that works with AI should be something you can take advantage of at any time, especially in emergency situations. A “doctor on demand” is exactly where we are headed with 5G.

Imagine a near future in which smart wearables control not only your heart rate and rhythm but also your blood sugar, haemoglobin, etc. The last thing you want in an emergency is for your device to be unable to communicate important data to your doctor because the connection was slow or congested. With 5G, however, your device will be able to quickly contact a server to update their health records for your doctor to see, or to alert a family member that your vital signs are outside safe levels. and that you need immediate attention. 5G enables frequent data transmissions at reasonable speeds without killing the battery.

Similarly, being able to send very high-resolution photos and videos almost instantly from anywhere on a 5G network allows anyone, at any time, to update their doctor with images from which they can truly diagnose. Doctors may someday be able to perform remote exams to save time and money.

In the same immediate attention line is 3D printing and drones. Both are “relatively” new industries, but 5G will help push them to a place where quick access to 3D designs and instant ordering of new materials becomes a reality. Ambulance drones could soon provide immediate attention in remote locations or densely populated areas where ground travel is too slow.

We have already mentioned virtual reality, but it also has specific applications in the healthcare field. Trainees who have not yet operated in reality can use a VR headset to learn the ins and outs of what it will be like in the field or use RA to keep the patient’s vital signs in plain view at all times.

VR may also be used someday on ambulance drones so that a surgeon or healthcare professional can remotely advise a patient. Virtual reality requires very low latency and high bandwidth, which is exactly what a high-speed 5G network provides.

5G seems to be exactly what we need to allow a remote professional to operate on someone worldwide. Imagine a small hospital with few doctors and a patient who needs immediate surgery that only a handful of people worldwide are capable of. The extremely low latency of 5G means that surgery can take place in real-time hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

Telemetry is another 5G use case that involves data communication from a device to a monitoring station that can interpret or store the information. Devices like a dropsonde already use telemetry, but integrating one with fifth-generation wireless networking technology means results come faster than ever. Additionally, the huge 5G bandwidth capacity opens up the possibility for other types of rangefinders, perhaps those that can avoid data compression so they can receive even faster results or ultra-sensitive rangefinders that respond with live data.

Another 5G medical transformation is digital record keeping and file transfer. Many hospitals manage to maintain digital health records without using 5G, but with improved speeds, machines throughout the building can move large data sets much faster.

An MRI is an example of a machine that can take a long time to send large scans and can easily delay a doctor from seeing other patients and hide important information from technicians who need to read the scan.

5G is opening up a new scenario in which machinery in the hospital can transmit data to the appropriate places more quickly, benefiting not only other patients and the entire hospital, but also potentially saving lives. Nokia is a company that has been working in a 5G hospital in Finland since 2016.

Breaking the language barriers is another 5G medical use case that, of course, extends beyond medical care to other fields where communication is difficult but is especially useful in emergency situations. A translator is not always local, so having a precise and instantaneous dialogue between him and the patient is critical to transmitting a diagnosis or request information from the patient or doctor.

Better law enforcement

A 5G police drone that is equipped with HD cameras can provide low-latency data, basically live, of a chase that operators in a car or back at the station can monitor in real-time. These types of drones can also be used for other things, such as monitoring alleys and other areas that a police car cannot get to, or answering a call faster than a ground driver could.

Police-operated drones or quadcopters also allow a city to deploy drones for regular monitoring of its citizens. Some see this as a dangerous invasion of privacy, but the technology is already here, and 5G will make drones much more likely to be deployed for this very reason.

Peer-to-Peer Communication (P2P)

P2P connections are when two or more devices communicate with each other directly to transmit data from one side to the other without using a server.

The way most communications and data transfers work right now is by uploading information to a server, which someone else can download from the same server. This is how most of the Internet works. It’s wonderfully effective and offers a seamless experience, but it’s not as fast as it could be.

For example, when you send a friend a collection of photos, it’s common to do it by email or through a file-sharing app. This works by having you upload the data to the email server or the data-sharing service server so that your friend can download the photos at high speed since the server supports fast upload speeds.

5G is changing P2P connections because instead of servers having access to fast upload speeds, your phone and computer can do the same. Each 5G signal has a minimum upload speed of 10 Gbps (1.25 gigabytes per second), which means that under ideal conditions, users can transfer 1.25 GB of data every second between devices. This is much faster than what is currently widely available.

Having such a fast upload speed on your end, and having other people have access to superfast 5G download speeds, means that others can download data from you as fast as you can upload it.

P2P can be used in many ways, such as when making phone calls, transferring files, transmitting information between vehicles in a smart city, automating factory equipment and interconnecting smart sensors in homes, cities, farms, etc.

5G will change everything. How does 5G work?

Like other wireless communication methods, 5G sends and receives data on the radio spectrum. However, unlike what we are used to with 4G, 5G uses higher frequencies (millimetre waves) in the radio spectrum to achieve ultrafast speeds.

The downside to using high frequencies to transmit data is that these frequencies experience much more interference from things like trees and buildings, which means that small strategically placed mobile phone towers are required to power the network across a city.

However, not all mobile network operators operate in the same way. Some companies make use of 5G at the lower ends of the radio spectrum so that cell towers can reach wider areas and penetrate walls, but the tradeoff is slower.

Specifications 5G Data Speed and Latency

With 5G, everything related to a mobile communication is faster, from the speed at which you can download and upload data to the number of devices that can connect to the Internet at the same time.

A 5G signal, which is the one that transmits and receives mobile data, supports speeds of at least 20 Gb / s for downloads and 10 Gb / s for loads, with a latency of just 4 ms or more.

However, in most situations, this could translate to actual speeds of 100 Mb / s (12.5 MB / s) and 50 Mb / s (6.25 MB / s), respectively, but could easily fluctuate towards up or down depending on a variety of circumstances. In comparison, the average mobile download speed is around 27 Mbps, more than 3.5 times slower than that available with 5G.

For example, in an ideal situation with 5G speeds of up to 1 Gb / s, you can download a 3 GB movie to your phone in 24 seconds, or upload a 1 GB video to YouTube in just eight seconds.

Here are some other examples of how long it would take to download files of different sizes on a 5G network, assuming different speeds:

  • 1 Gb / s: Two seconds to download 75 JPG images (300 MB in total)
  • 5 Gb / s: Eight seconds to download two full seasons of Game of Thrones (about 5 GB) via HBO
  • 15 Gb / s: One minute to download a 105 GB file of data that has been backed up online
  • 20 Gb / s: Less than two minutes to download Avatar: Special Edition (276 GB)

5G supports many devices

At a minimum, 5G must support 1 million devices for every square kilometre (0.386 square miles). This means that within that amount of space, a 5G network is capable of connecting a whopping 1 million or more devices to the Internet at the same time.

This type of scenario may seem difficult to understand considering that the cities with the highest population density (such as Manila, the Philippines and Mumbai, India) “only” have between 70,000 and 110,000 people per square kilometre.

However, 5G does not need to support only one or two devices per person, but also the smartwatch of all users, all vehicles in the area that may be connected to the Internet, smart locks in nearby houses, articles of clothing or wearables and any other current or brand new device that needs to be online.

Globally, there will be 1.3 billion connections to 5G networks by the end of 2023.

5G signals can communicate with all kinds of devices, such as those used by an immobile person who is not moving towards someone in a high-speed vehicle such as a train, which is travelling up to 500 km / h.

Different areas may require a different mobile base station to accommodate different speeds. For example, a small city that only has users travelling by car and on foot may not have the same base stations as a larger city with a high-speed public transportation system.

More about 5G

5G and other mobile broadband standards are established by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). Version 16 of 3GPP is “phase 2” of the 5G project, and will be completed in March 2020.

For a much more technical reading of 5G specifications, check out this Microsoft Word document from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Once 5G is widely available, it may be the latest breakthrough in mobile networks. Instead of a 6G or 7G later, we could just stick with 5G but get incremental improvements over time.

It’s easy to confuse 5G with 5GHz Wi-Fi, but the two are not the same. The first is a mobile network technology, while the second is a frequency band used in some Wi-Fi routers.


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