How fast is 5G and when will it replace 4G LTE as mobile network standard?

5G Ultra Wideband

First of all, let us get one thing clear, there is currently no universal standard for 5G deployments. Towards the end of last year, however, the wireless industry came up with the first viable standard that could soon be made official. This is after it met most of NGMN and GSMA’s guidelines. The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance did however set a couple of guidelines for 5G. Also, according to the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) to qualify for as a 5G connection, the technology should meet all or most of the following eight criteria:

  1. Up to 10Gbps connections to endpoints in the field
  2. One millisecond end-to-end round-trip delay
  3. 1000x bandwidth per unit area
  4. 10 to 100x number of connected devices
  5. (Perception of) 99.999 percent availability
  6. (Perception of) 100 percent coverage
  7. 90 percent reduction in network energy usage
  8. Up to ten-year battery life for low power, machine-type devices

Advantages of 5G

That said, 5G basically brings three new advantages and notable advancements over 4G-LTE.

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  1. Higher speeds so a much higher throughput. Essentially, with every advancement in mobile Generation, there is a substantial speed increase expected. 3G came as a breakthrough and is used for calls, messaging and data. 4G works similarly to 3G with faster internet speeds and lower latency. In theory, 4G networks should be up to 5x faster than 3G with download speeds of up to 100Mbps.
  2. Lower latency. This is the difference between cause and effect. This means your computer and the internet will be communicating faster than they currently do, so shorter pings.
  3. The ability to connect a lot more devices at the same time. This is key for the IoT movement that brings a slew of new sensors and smart devices to the internet.

So just how much faster will 5G be?

5G connections are set to be up to 3x those of 4G. The basic platform should begin with 450Mbps in single-stream, 900 Mbps for dual- channels and up to 1.3Gbps (three-stream). This is simply mind-boggling.


How soon shall we see 5G?

As has been the case with previous Generational advancements, a few changes have to be made first. The carriers have to upgrade their base stations and also put up a lot more of those to facilitate the higher throughput that 5G is capable of. We also need to get new devices that support the new platform. Already, chip manufacturers like Qualcomm have chips that support that level of speeds. OEMs, however, haven’t implemented those in their products so there might be no way of accessing 5G networks.

At the moment, most parts of the world are only now starting to roll out 4G-LTE. It will be quite a while before we see our local carriers hoping onto the 5G hype-train.

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