All you need to know about 5G

WHAT IS 5G?
5G is the short for fifth generation, a mobile broadband technology that is in the early stages of works and likely to be in place six to seven years from now. A 5G network will be able to handle 10,000 times more call and data traffic than the current 3G or 4G network.

Data download speeds on 5G networks are likely to be several hundred times more than 4G.

WHAT WOULD A TYPICAL 5G EXPERIENCE BE LIKE?

You could download a three-hour high-definition movie on a mobile device in one second. It takes several minutes on a 3G or 4G network and several hours on 2G.

Live gaming and real-time video streaming will be possible without any lags as data transmission happens literally in the blink of an eye. Those annoying video buffering during streaming sessions would disappear.

WILL 5G WORK ON THE SAME SPECTRUM BANDS THAT 3G AND 4G RUN ON?

Researchers have yet to finalise the spectrum band for 5G. But indications are that 5G networks will run on ultra-high spectrum bands like 15 GHz, 27 GHz or even 70 GHz.

These bands offer far broader bandwidth than the lower 700 MHz, 800 MHz or 1800 MHz frequencies used for 4G, and hence can carry a lot more data at super speeds.

Spectrum, in this case, may be likened to a highway of airwaves on while telecom signals travel. Broader the highway, higher the amount and speed of data that can travel on it. The result: a richer mobile Internet experience.

WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATUS OF 5G?

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute is formulating 5G global technology standards, which are likely to be formalised by 2019.

Telecom companies such as Nokia, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent , NTT DoCoMo, NEC, Samsung, Huawei and Fujitsu are driving bulk of the 5G-related innovations.

WHEN WILL PEOPLE BE ABLE TO EXPERIENCE 5G?

5G networks are likely to be rolled out commercially between 2020 and 2025. If the global standards are finalised by 2019, the earliest commercial deployments could happen by 2020.

Japan’s NTT DoCoMo is targeting a 5G commercial launch by 2020 and will start indoor trials at its R&D centre in Yokosuka this year. French-American telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent is looking at a commercial rollout by 2025.

WILL 3G AND 4G HANDSETS RUN ON 5G NETWORKS?

No. 5G will require new chipsets and devices capable of supporting speeds upwards of 10 gigabits per second. 4G and 3G run at a fraction of that speed.

Manufacturing of 5G-ready gear is expected to start only after the standards are finalised. Researchers foresee the emergence of integrated, futuristic devices that will combine the functions of a TV, tablet, smartphone, computer and a game console. This is since 5G will be a combination of different technologies and will also embrace learnings from 3G and 4G.

ARE THERE ANY INHERENT WEAKNESSES IN 5G?

Since 5G services are likely to run on ultra-high spectrum bands, which travel shorter distances compared with lower bands, they may be more suited to enhanced indoor coverage.

Higher frequencies could be blocked by buildings and they lose intensity over longer distances. That means, offering wider coverage would be a challenge.

 

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