5G technology, the Internet of Things and the future
As our internet-enabled devices become more powerful, and the Internet of Things (IoT) grows, the natural progression to 5G technology is inevitable - but what is it, how does it work, and what does it mean for our future?
What is 5G?
Quite simply 5G stands for "fifth generation mobile network", and, as such, we can expect it to be a significant upgrade on 4G. Current estimates range from a fairly conservative 10 times faster than 4G to an extraordinary 100 times faster, but part of the excitement stems from the fact that nobody really knows what to expect yet.
How will it work?
5G technology will almost definitely work in the millimetre wave spectrum, between 30 GHz and 300 GHz, because this spectrum allows for a much higher capacity than the current 4G network – but this range does come with its limitations...
4G works on wavelengths that have little trouble bypassing buildings and other structures, meaning radio masts and antennas can be relatively far apart and high up without a drop in efficiency. 5G on the other hand will work with much shorter wavelengths, which means that their range will also be shorter.
But what does this mean in practical terms?
Well, you can expect to see a vast array of ground-level 'mini-masts' springing up over the next couple of years in order to create a usable network. This will mean a significant outlay for mobile network companies, and they’re not all fully on board yet, but it does have an air of inevitability about it - especially as the IoT gains more traction.
What does 5G mean for us?
Well, it's clear that however much faster 5G turns out to be, it's going to impact our lives in so many ways. For example, a full HD movie will be downloaded to your device in less than a minute, and potentially as quickly as five seconds, which clearly blows current mobile data networks out of the water. It'll also be possible to stream anything, including 4K, with ease because latency will be so low that buffering will essentially become a thing of the past – no more little spinning circles as videos load on your phone!
We may even see 5G completely replacing cable, or at least make anything slower than 100-200 Mb/s redundant, as we choose instead to hotspot from our mobile devices, but that's not all...
5G and the Internet of Things
As 5G becomes firmly established, it'll allow the Internet of Things to grow to the point where virtually every electronic device in your home will be controllable remotely and be able to talk to each other, allowing you to let your home pretty much run itself.
Lighting, white goods, heating systems, toasters and so much more will become smarter and more autonomous, allowing you to live your life with more freedom, while also having a more energy efficient home.
The same will apply to your car, with 5G technology being an essential step in creating a system of truly autonomous vehicles, because a powerful and stable network will be vital to creating safe smart roads that interact effectively with all the vehicles that use them.
Even though 5G technology is still a couple of years away from formal release, and probably a few more from going global, it’s still the most exciting tech development right now, and we can’t wait to see how it’s going to affect our lives.