Harnessing the Power of 5G Networks

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Harnessing the Power of 5G Networks

Roughly every ten years, the wireless industry rolls out a new generation of mobile network technology. In 1982, the first 1G system was launched, followed a decade later by the first 2G system, then the first 3G system in 2001, and finally, in 2012, the 4G system we use today.

Following that pattern, the next generation—5G—is due by 2022, but most industry experts expect it to be ready even sooner. That’s good news because 4G simply can’t keep up with the explosive growth of data usage in recent years.

According to a press release from AT&T, data traffic on its network soared by more than 150,000 percent from 2007 through 2015, and 60 percent of that data in 2015 consisted of video.1

Much of that growth can attributed to the rising popularity of video on social media. According to Tech Insider, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in November 2015 that Facebook users view 8 billion videos on the site every day.2

While it’s clear that 4G is becoming outdated, no one knows exactly what 5G will be like, because the official standard for the new technology has yet to be defined. According to Tech Republic, the blueprint for 5G will only be drawn after standards organizations such as the 3GPP, ITU, and IEEE—as well as government agencies, universities, and special interest groups—have all weighed in on the design. That’s expected to happen around 2018.3

So far, however, everyone agrees that 5G will need to meet three criteria:

  1. It must be able to deliver a download at 1 gigabyte per second when the new standard is first launched, and then keep getting faster in the years ahead. That means an entire movie could be downloaded in a few seconds, rather than in the several minutes it takes today.
  2. It must reduce latency to less than one millisecond. Latency is the lag time it takes for the technology to respond to a command. In video streaming, it now takes several seconds, or even minutes, after the play button is pressed before a movie will begin. With 5G, AT&T predicts that latency will drop to 1 to 5 milliseconds.
  3. It must use less energy than 4G. According to CNET, a networked sensor in a remote location will be able to operate for a decade before its battery will need to be replaced.

What makes 5G exciting isn’t just that it will make your smartphone smarter, more powerful, and more efficient...

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