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What is 5G? All You Need to Know

what is 5g

It took a decade to create 5G and finally, it’s a reality. Carriers had already started rolling out 5G in selective cities two years ago. Mobile 5G had made appearances in a few cities as well. Now that 2020 has set in, we will more rollouts.

5G has progressed more than we know but people are still not well aware of this technology.  They have so many questions about it. Just like to some people net neutrality is a novel term, many are not sure what 5G is about. This blog will serve as a comprehensive guide for everyone who has questions about 5G.

What is 5G?

5G is the 5th generation mobile network. It’s developed to elevate the mobile network for not just interconnecting people but machines, devices, and other objects. The efficiency and performance that it will deliver will empower user experience and connect new industries. It has so much to offer! This technology will deliver multi GBPS peak rates, massive capacity, very little latency, and uniform user experience.

How Does It Work?

It’s interesting how 5G works. It uses a system of cell sites dividing the territory into sectors and sending encoded data via radio waves. Each cell site needs to be connected to a network (this could be wired or wireless). Networks use OFDM encoding which is pretty much similar to that of 4G LTE.  The air interface is designed for reducing latency. It offers more flexibility than LTE itself.

5G radio systems get 30% more speed due to efficient encoding. So how does it successfully offer gigabit like speed? Large channels are responsible for that. The 4G channels support 20MHz and when bonded together, they become 160MHz at a time. On the other hand, 5G channels are up to 100Mhz. This, of course, requires large and clear blocks of airwaves than what 4G is currently using.

Since lower frequencies in the United States are already occupied by satellite firms, TV stations, 4G and the military, higher and short distance frequencies are widely available. In fact, they are unused. Therefore, carriers can easily construct wide roads for high speeds.

How Fast Is 5G?

Ok, so 5G is fast but how fast is it? 5G is expected to deliver peak data up to 20 Gbps. The very first 5G NR modem called the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem has been developed for achieving up to 5 Gbps in peak data rate.

Experts say that 5G is much more than fast. It doesn’t just offer higher peak data rates but much higher network capacity. For that, it can expand into a new spectrum like mmWave (millimeter wave). It won’t have latency issues which means you can enjoy playing live games and stream media content provided by streaming services without network disruption. Users will have a uniform experience that other cellular networks haven’t been able to offer yet.

Here’s a breakdown of 5G’s speed and performance targets:

  • Peak data rate

You can expect 20Gbps downlink and 10 Gbps uplink peak data rates per mobile base station. Keep in mind this speed is shared by all the users on the cell, it’s not offered on an individual basis.

  • Actual speed

The actual speed a user will get is not the same offered at peak data rates. The download speed is up to 100 Mbps and upload speed is up to 50 Mbps.

  • Latency

5G has tackled the latency issues to some extent. The latency rate is 4 milliseconds in ideal circumstances and 1 millisecond when the utmost speed is in demand.

  • Spectral efficiency

It refers to the optimized use of bandwidth or spectrum for transmitting a maximum amount of data with minimum transmission errors.  With 5G, you will get a slightly improved spectral efficiency as compared to LTE.

  • Mobility  

Base stations will be able to support 0 to 310 mpg movement. This means the base stations will be able to work even on a high-speed train.

  • More devices

Of course, 5G will support more connected devices as compared to LTE. It can support up to 1 million connected devices per square km.

5G Is Not Just For Phones

5G is a big deal and it is not just for the smartphone industry. It is designed for almost every connected device. This technology is going to be essential for self-driving cars enabling us to communicate with the world around us as quickly as possible.

Reduced latency and higher capacity mean cars will be able to communicate with their surrounding environments faster and hence they will become fully autonomous. Thanks to 5G, smart home devices, VR headsets, wearables, and PCs will improve dramatically.

What About Security?

5G is more secure than its predecessors.  It is cloud-based which allows for better monitoring of spotting potential threats.

It will enable operators to perform network slicing for segmenting the system in numerous virtual networks which can be managed and customized individually. Different slices might have tailored protection for a specific device type.

5G is promising when it comes to security. It uses the best defensive technology of 4G along with implementing new security protocols. 5G will assign unique identities to each individual device on the network and eliminate the need for using a SIM card. It will shift the responsibility of authentication from the operator to the service provider. It will also offer better roaming encryption using 256-bit encryption. That means the location and identity of the user will be encrypted; meaning no one will be able to snoop on the user’s location.

5G Vs 4G – What’s the Difference?

So far, we know 5G is better than 4G but how? What’s the difference between the two? Let’s explore:

  • 5G is much more capable than 4G

4G LTE was introduced to deliver faster mobile broadband than its predecessors 3G but not 5G. Rather designed to be a unified platform for elevating the mobile broadband experience. It’s also going to support new services and the use of IoT. It’s going to support all types of spectrums, bands, development models and new ways of interconnection.

  • 5G uses better spectrum as compared to 4G

5G will be getting the best of every spectrum across an array of spectrum regulatory bands and paradigms starting from bands below 1 GHz, mid bands (1 to 6 GHz) and high bands.

  • Faster and has more capacity

Of course, 5G is faster as it’s capable of delivering up to 20 Gbps per second peak data rates and more than 100 Mbps per second average data rate.

Likewise, 5G supports a hundred times more traffic capacity and it’s a more efficient network.

  • 5G has lower latency than 4G

5G has taken the lead when it comes to latency. Its latency is 1ms.

Which Phones Support 5G?

If you want to use 5G, you are going to need a new phone. The first round of 5G phones launched only supported a few 5G systems. To enjoy full 5G coverage and speed you might want to wait till the first ever all-band 5G smartphones are introduced. So don’t invest in one just yet.

Currently, the phones that support 5G include Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5g, LG V50, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, Moto Z3, and Z4 and OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren. Most of these smartphones support short-range and higher speed bands.

Companies like Vivo, ZTE, Huawei, OnePlus, Xiaomi and Oppo have made their 5G phones too but they aren’t destined for the United States. They aren’t compatible with US networks either.

What Can You Do With 5G?

The use of 5G goes beyond streaming, web surfing, online shopping and watching content on IPTV. It has a much higher utility than we know. 5G will enable new services for transforming data over industries at ultra-fast speed and reduced latency. It will be used in performing medical procedures and even driving autonomous vehicles.

It will also unlock the true capability of drones. The operators will be able to control the drones precisely and send HD video faster. 5G has the ability to enhance the VR experience as well. Users will be able to chat in real-time through live streaming.

It May Not Be Cheap

Since we are getting higher speed, 5G is likely to come at a higher cost. The unlimited data plans by providers may experience a price boost from $20 to $30.  As network speed has increased, data cost has experienced a spike as well. There is little reason to think that this trend won’t continue in the future.

It’s not all bad news, in the long run, as new devices start rolling now, the price of 5G will come out. However, how long this transition would take, no one really knows.

Final Words

5G is already out but it’s not available at its full potential yet. It doesn’t have a price either. There are lots of tech-savvy users who can’t wait to test its implementation. 5G will probably fix the problems of 4G LTE. The days of slow data speed are numbered.

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