The dawn of 5G networks is not far away. The most recent estimates point to 2020 as the year that fully standardized 5G networks will start to hit the market and deliver unprecedented levels of connectivity, but we should start to see their usage from 2018 at events such as the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. It’s an exciting prospect for a variety of reasons. 5G will follow a ‘network-of-networks’ approach, enabling the convergence of fixed and wireless networks to bring together an evolution of mobile broadband services, ultra-reliable critical communications services and the fruition of large scale IoT projects.
But what can we expect in 2020? What will 5G look like in the real world?
Firstly, we should recognize the key improvements of 5G. 5G won’t just bring significant data speed and bandwidth improvements, compared to 4G and 4.5G (LTE advanced); it will bring the possibility to customize the connectivity to the needs of a given consumer, enterprise, industry or government agency. It will also bring new capabilities which are well suited to new connected device use cases. For example, “low latency” response times provides real-time interactivity for services using the cloud: this is key for the success of new innovations such as autonomous cars. Adjacently, low power consumption for 5G IoT devices will allow connected objects such as power meters or sensors to operate for up to 15 years without the need for human intervention.
Unlike some of the present day IoT services which suffer performance trade-offs, in an effort to get the most possible from current wireless technologies, 5G networks will bring the level of performance needed for large scale IoT projects.
Overall, 5G will come with many improvements for mobile broadband, critical communications, V2X (Vehicle-to-Infrastructure) speed, latency and bandwidth. The benefits will include: 100x connected devices per unit area, 99.999% availability, blanket coverage and a 90% reduction in network energy usage.