5G is a complex hybrid of different radio frequency (RF) technologies connected to an ultrafast, managed network infrastructureIt will deliver different services to different devices and applications and it must have the capacity to  cope with the ever-increasing number of devices being connected to networks. 

Devices are not exclusively mobile phones and tablet devices, they can include  IoT devices (sensors, vending devices), edge computing. These networks must also be designed with emerging technologies in mind, such as automated vehicles, augmented reality, and virtual reality. 

Summary of the Key Features of the 5G Standard:

High data throughput. 5G is expected to be anywhere from 10 to 100 times faster than current 4G networks, depending on the RF implementation used. Some territories and countries may only license some frequencies rather than all. Consequently, the maximum potential speed will not be possible in these 5G implementations. Chipmaker Qualcomm reckons that current 5G mobile phones could achieve, in non-laboratory conditions, speeds close to 1Gbps in the short term. Under laboratory conditions 5G has reached speeds as fast as 36Gbps.

Support of fast movement. All mobile networks support movement. When you move from one area to another, the mobile network will seamlessly handover to the next base station without you being aware of it. However, if you are moving at high speed this handover typically does not take place quick enough and does result in an interruption of the mobile data service — this is not good if the device is critically dependant on being connected to a network continuously. 5G will support fast movement of ground speeds up of 310 mph reliably. 

Connection density. The 5G standard should be able to support up to 1 million connected devices per square kilometre (2.7 million per square mile). This will be integral for the predicted proliferation of IoT devices in the coming years. IoT Analytics predict that the number of Internet-connected devices across the world will increase 21.5 billion by 2025. In 2018,there were just over 7 billion devices active. 

Low latency. The target latency for 5G is 1 to 4 milliseconds. Equipment shipping in 2019 has tested air latency of 8 to 12 milliseconds, a number that will be improved upon. Low latency is critical for automation and augmented reality applications where milliseconds matter. Some examples of applications where low latency is critical  are voice and video communications, live streaming, remote surgery, and autonomous vehicle control.

Lower energy consumption. Sensors and other IoT devices need to be energy efficient in order for them to be of any practical use. Typically sensors will be compact, and thus battery driven units will only be able to accommodate a small battery. Battery driven IoT devices allow for rapid deployment, and  are more flexible in terms of positioning because there is zero requirement for a cable to be laid to the device. The key to their energy efficiency is how they communicate with the 5G network.

IoT devices do not need to be constantly connected to the network, instead they will send out a lazy heartbeat or an Edge computing device can poll the IoT device periodically. In the case of vending, communication is only required when a transaction takes place.

In our next post, we will  discuss how organisations can benefit from 5G and also some of the controversies surrounding the technology.

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