In the first half of 2020, the spectrum will be assigned to the operators for the deployment of 5G. To this day, the unknowns about the characteristics of the technology and its real applications remain. The launch of 5G has sparked controversy. Some people thought it could cause cancer and spread COVID-19, others thought it could cure it. And still, the real question is yet to be accurately answered: What is the truth about 5G technology?
5G has become an extremely popular topic among tech lovers and smartphone users, as it is set to change the way we use the internet. This new technology will increase connection speed, decrease latency, and exponentially increase the number of connected devices.
But there are still many common assumptions about 5G that are inaccurate or downright wrong. Here we highlight five truths about the truth about 5G technology the new generation of networks and also five myths that surround it. We will start by knowing what it is, then move to the myths and truths about this novel technology.
What is 5G technology?
5G technology is referred to as the fifth generation of mobile networks. As you might suppose before 5G happened, there were four previous generations:
- 1G, which only allowed voice connection.
- 2G where the first mobile messaging systems were incorporated, the famous and now obsolete SMS
- 3G that opened the door to the internet connection from the mobile phone as we know it, so useful and necessary for smartphones to perform their functions without problems.
- 4G, the latest mobile network whose technology and transfer speed that can reach 1Gb per second, has allowed us until today to be able to watch streaming videos on channels such as NETFLIX or HBO, enjoy the latest online games or make video calls to via mobile with minimal delay.
The 5G network will open up a world of possibilities in connecting devices connected to the cloud, where edge computing will play a fundamental role. The main characteristics of this new technology will be:
- Transmission speed that can reach l0Gb/s,
- Ability to connect to a greater volume of devices, multiplying the current one by 100.
- Lower energy consumption, which will allow the use of smaller sensors, even that can be self-sufficient through solar charging.
- A lower network response time latency from 20-50 milliseconds of the 4G network to the 1-5 milliseconds that 5G offers.
Knowing the characteristics of 5G networks better, we can imagine the multitude of possibilities and technological advances that arise in the future, from the use of autonomous cars, drones, or industrial robots, to the complete sensorization of a smart city with self-powered sensors or remote surgery with reaction times similar to those of the human brain.
But when technology advances, there are always myths and rumors that arise against a certain technology, as is currently also the case with Big Data or Artificial Intelligence. In this blog, we will highlight and identify some of the myths and truths that hover over 5G technology.
Myths of 5G
- The important thing about 5G is speed.
The jump from 3G to 4G was mostly speed. With 5G, this aspect will be just one of the advantages. Low latency and densification, the possibility of making the network ultra-reliable and with many more connected devices, differentiate 5G from 4G. With 3G, the signal delay reaches 60 milliseconds, a figure that was reduced to 50 milliseconds with 4G. The next generation of networks downgrades it to 1 millisecond. Likewise, 5G will allow one million devices to be connected in one square kilometer, multiplying the capacity of 4G by 100.
- The prices of mobile rates will go up.
The market trend does not point in this direction. Most likely, in the beginning, a dynamic similar to 4G will be followed. Rather than raising fees as an add-on, what is surely going to be a selective offer. The goal will be for some customers, such as video game fans, with lower rates to move towards higher ones. Over time, the offer will penetrate lower value customers. It seems that the operators will wait for the user to change instead of changing the prices themselves.
- The operators are the ones who win with 5G. This is a delicate question. The National 5G Observatory pointed out that operators would have difficulties to make the first services of the new network profitable. The sector looks for use cases that compensate for the investment that will be made. Monetization is going to be focused mainly on the B2B or B2C market. The operator has to find alliances with both technology suppliers and industrial manufacturers. The operator must avoid becoming a cost of a larger project but must enter as an element of value.
- We will see the effects of 5G soon. It will not be a matter of a day, not a year. The pace of deployment depends on many factors, including the strategies of the different operators. Real applications, in medicine or in industry, will take time to come. It will surely take some time for companies to adapt to the network, and there will still be standardization problems to solve. When 4G was launched in 2010, there were no services that consumed all its data capacity. It took us about 5-6 years to get to use the capacity. The same thing will happen to 5G.
- I have to change my mobile. Not so fast. To use the new 5G network, we will need 5G mobiles; this is evident. But it is not necessary to make the change now. The truth about 5G technology is there are still no services for users over 5G networks, and compatible smartphones are still expensive. As the months (even years) go by, it will become cheaper, as will the emergence of new generation services. However, in no case will 4G terminals be obsolete since the antennas that are installed will be compatible with previous versions.
Truths of 5G
- It will provide more speed to our mobiles. This is absolutely true; the jump is said to be huge will cause a major change with speeds and theoretical peaks of 1 and 10 Gbps, respectively. It is a high figure, but when there are many users connected, it will be necessary to compete for those resources. But it is expected that the user experience is around 400 or 600 Mbps. This is much more than what we have in fiber optics at home. The question is whether users need this extra speed. In South Korea, where there are already one and a half million subscribers to 5G networks, they currently use it to download videos in 4K resolution and for video games. They say they need this network; they are downloading four times more traffic per month than they were consuming with 4G.
- It will encourage virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. Virtual reality has already started rolling, but it is riddled with obstacles. You definitely have to get rid of the cables connecting your glasses to your computer equipment, and you need to get up to 4K to prevent pixels from popping out from time to time. Not even current Wi-Fi meets these standards. By the time virtual reality offers 4K glasses, it will require 300 Mbps speed.
- The big changes will be for companies. 4G meant a qualitative leap in mobile services for all consumers. But the truth about 5G technology is that it has a different nuance. Not only is it the fifth generation of personal mobile communications, but it is the first generation also oriented towards communications and sectorial uses. And this will mean a change in all economic activities such as health, agri-foods, manufacturing, tourism, and automobile.
- It will allow for specialized remote jobs. 5G will go one step further. It will be an opportunity for new services and even new business models. If we integrate 5G with augmented reality, it is possible for complex technical repair services to be performed remotely. Also, consider this other example – surgery 4.0, in which robotization, analytics, and augmented reality are combined with 5G to perform operations also remotely.
- You will develop true IoT. For those not aware, IoT simply stands for “The Internet of Things,” and this already exists, but the push that 5G will give it is equivalent to inaugurating a new phase. Today you need a Wi-Fi point to connect sensors and other devices. There will be a new phase where things will ‘computerized’ in the sense that they will be connected but be moving, which we will call the mobile IoT. 4G does not enable this as there are a lot of limitations regarding the number of SIM cards that it can support with a base station. This is the truth about 5G technology: it will allow all products to be connected and, therefore, become intelligent. It’s the missing piece. For example, a car will be able to talk to another car and to traffic lights.
Conclusion: the truth about 5G technology
Although 5G coverage is not widely extended, it is present in more than one country. In fact, Vodafone has been the first company in Spain to offer it in 15 large cities. It is expected that between the remainder of 2020 and next year 2021, the commercial deployment of 5G networks will be completed in this country and start in a number of others as well.
It will only take time before we can see if 5G technology becomes, as we hope, a widely used reality around the world. And it is that this change in technology would imply advantages in areas that go far beyond telecommunications.