5G is one of the hottest buzzwords in the mobile industry – it seems as though everyone has a stance on the technology. In recent months, numerous mobile operators, vendors, universities and councils have announced 5G tests.
The interest in 5G is no wonder. Not only will it make phone connections much faster, but it will allow emerging technologies such as self-driving cars and Virtual Reality to reach their full potential. 5G is transformational because it will connect everything around us to a network that is 100 times faster than current cellular connections, and 10 times faster than even the faster home broadband services available.
While all this extra speed is impressive, it is not just about being faster than 3G or 4G. It is that combined with improved responsiveness and reach it can power the development of those emerging technologies – internet of things, smart cities as well as connected cars, VR and AR.
5G in practice: fuelling self-driving cars
As we found out, currently 68% of consumers have issues with in-car mobile signal. Although companies like Tesla and Uber are experimenting with self-driving cars, without the reliability and speed of a 5G network, their viability as a fleet of “everyday” vehicles may be commercially challenging, to say the least. With 5G, cars will be able to talk to each other, as well as with sensors built around them such as traffic lights, external traffic management systems, service stations, and so on.
This is just one of many examples of how 5G will impact our day-to-day lives. If the hype is to be believed, 5G is going to be so powerful that it could even, one day, replace our home broadband connections.
But what will 5G actually look like?
As 5G develops, we can expect not only faster data speeds, but also significantly reduced latency. Latency associated with 4G clocks in around 50 ms, whereas 5G includes a specification of sub 1 ms for new critical applications such as vehicle-to-vehicle technology, where decisions need to be made and communicated instantly.
The future of 5G looks bright. However, for its potential to be unleashed, it will require mobile operators to commit to regular network testing to ensure consistent and regular coverage.
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