What is 5G and what is it promising?

4G mobile phone transmission seems to have only just arrived for most people and yet already all the talk is about the next generation, 5G. That’s supposed to be ready for launch by 2020. But how noticeable an improvement will it really be?

For starters, 5G offers an enormous increase in transmission bandwidth, theoretically 10 gigabits per second (GBit/s) – which is 10,000 megabits per second (Mbit/s). Put simply, imagine downloading an entire 1.25 GB film in one second.

In comparison, 4G offers a maximum of around 300 Mbit/s and many smartphone users are lucky to get 50 Mbit/s.

However, people shouldn’t have exaggerated expectations for 5G data rates, especially in the initial phase. “10 GBit/s will come, but not everywhere and not for everyone,” says Professor Slamowir Stanczak, head of the Wireless Communications and Networks Department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications in Germany.

One reason for this is that the achievable rates within a radio cell will still have to be shared among all the users within that cell.

For many applications what will be more important than bandwidth is signal delay or latency. 5G will shorten this delay by a factor of 40 when compared to 4G.

“Currently the network operators mainly do their business with high data rates,” Stanczak explains. “But the industry needs low latency, high reliability, high security and high availability.”

5G is said to be the solution for both data-hungry consumers and companies interested in real-time control of networked machines and vehicles.

The new standard will offer “massive benefits for the Internet of Things,” according to Phil Twist, communications manager of Nokia’s Mobile Networks division. Compared to 4G, 5G “offers 1,000 times more capacity to network things.”


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