Everything you want to know about 5G

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In the wireless technology networking world, 5G is the is the new buzzword. We look at the various aspects being touched upon in this article:

What is 5G

What is it capable of

5G vs earlier generations

How 5G exceeds 4G  – 4G vs 5G

5G uses

STL and 5G technology

5G FAQs

2. What is 5G?

Simply speaking, it is the 5th generation of wireless technology. The 5th generation technology has been envisioned as bigger, faster, better.  5G architecture is built on a much higher next generation technology plane with the premise to connect everything and everyone – people, buildings, cities, sensors, smartphones, robots, drones. As compared to the existing wireless technology, it will have higher data rates, reduced latency, higher capacity system, energy savings and cost reductions. It will bring new capabilities and create opportunities for society and business. Here is some of the excited chatter about 5G:

“Connected cars will shape the future of individual mobility, and next generation mobile networks will take car‑to‑x connectivity to a new level.” – Alfons Pfaller, Head of Infotainment Development, AUDI AG

“The adoption of 5G will even faster than what we saw on 4G, which was already fairly fast.” said Ignacio Contreras, Qualcomm’s director of marketing

“5G will be the post-smartphone era,” said Robert J. Topol, Intel’s general manager for 5G business and technology. “Phones are the first place to launch because [they’re] such an anchor in our lives from a connectivity standpoint.” 

“5G is one of those heralds, along with artificial intelligence, of this coming data age,” said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research for the Consumer Technology Association.

3. What is 5G capable of?

Profoundly affecting every human activity, it is looked upon to create a connected, secure world. The 5th  generation of wireless technology is built on connectivity. People, gadgets, buildings, infrastructure will be talking to each other through the next generation technology provided by 5G. It offers the possibility of innovations such as remote surgeries, telemedicine, self-driving cars, smart cities, smart buildings and smart factories, virtual reality experience while gaming, shopping and viewing sporting events.

Here is what STL has to say : “Looking the future, has set up end to end 5G Ecosystem with its strong portfolio of optical fibres and wireless technology. STL continues to strengthen the Make in India 5G ecosystem by investing in technology and assembling an ecosystem of partners in hardware manufacturing, cloud computing, and academia. The ecosystem will create the Next-Gen Digital Network by bringing together four specialised technological confluences – (i) wired and wireless; (ii) software and hardware; (iii) connectivity and compute; and (iv) open source – all at the edge of the network. This network will bring the scale and quality to bring affordable Internet to the world.”

(Source: https://www.prnewswire.com/in/news-releases/stl-sets-up-end-to-end-5g-ecosystem-with-its-strong-portfolio-of-optical-fibers-and-wireless-technologies-846960711.html)

4. Comparing generations of network 1G 2G 3G 4G 5G.

Let us chart out the journey of various generations of wireless technology to fully understand the phenomena of the fifth generation:

1G or first generation of mobile networks was built in the 1970s and 80s and was analogous, carrying only voice data. They were carried over radio waves and were unencrypted. Japan started the 1G revolution. Drawbacks of 1G were poor coverage and sound quality, no compatibility between systems and unencrypted voice.

2G came into existence in 1990s. The calls were digital and encrypted. Higher quality data could be transferred. People could send text , picture and multimedia messages. This led to a telecommunications revolution. Mobile cell towers came into being and consumers and businesses adopted it with speed. Smart phones came into being.

3G was built in early 2000s. With this generation, users could access data from any location in the world as web connectivity were standardised. This was 4 times faster than 2G. In 3G, data transfer capabilities increased and video conferencing, video streaming, voice quality. Blackberry was launched with this generation’s features. iPhones came into being around 2007 and with 3G technology made smartphones a necessity over a luxury item.

4G : Apple, Google, Facebook really ushered in the 4G technology adoption. 4G made high quality video streaming a reality for consumers. Currently the technology being used mostly, 4G technology enables high definition videos, conferencing, gaming services. Switching from 2G to 3G was simple with mere change of sim cards. However, for 4G, a change in mobile devices is needed.

5G: We are at the cusp of the 5th generation revolution. This generation promises higher speed, reduced latency, energy savings and a higher capacity systems. The superior connectivity offered by 5G aspires equal access to network regardless of location or social status in society. 5G offers the possibility of innovations such as remote surgeries, telemedicine, self-driving cars, smart cities , smart buildings and smart factories, virtual reality experience while gaming, shopping and viewing sporting events. It looks to expand wireless services from internet to Internet of Things and communication sectors.

Eveything you want to know about 5G

5. 4G vs 5G

The key aspects which 5G has focussed on exceeding over 4G technology, is bandwidth, download speed, latency, base station, OFDM coding (which means the process of coding digital data on different bandwidths and frequencies). Here is a quick view:

Eveything you want to know about 5G

5G is not just a better 4G, but literally a different technology. The 5G speed is 20 times faster than the previous generation, has much lower latency and tremendously improved reliability.

5G will allow higher number of users to connect simultaneously. Lower latency will ensure greater download speed. Earlier generations used cell towers to transmit signals, however 5G will use small cell technology. Carriers will deploy high band 5G smalls cells in multiple locations . This for MM wave frequency levels used by 5G. Another difference is in the OFDM coding. OFDM breaks up the  different wireless signals into various channels to acquire greater bandwidth and non-interference. 4G technology uses 20 MHz channels, whereas 5G technology is built to use 100 to 800 MHz channels. The higher the channels, the more the download speed.

6. Where is 5G technologies being used?

5G technology is really all encompassing. Here are the various sectors with 5G technologies being employed to revolutionise it:

  1. Smart cities and smart buildings: IoT (Internet of Things) sensors will monitor and collect data on air quality, energy usage, traffic patterns for cities. This will help civic authorities to effectively manoeuvre their operations. Emergency vehicles like ambulances, fire engines, police cars will be able to connect with their destination unhindered.  Smart buildings will be able to supply basic amenities without disruptions and would become hub spots for working population. With buildings being connected to each other, remote working model will become the norm.
  2. Manufacturing sector: Artificial intelligence will analyse the massive amounts of data being collected to automate processes being done manually. End-to-end automation using IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) are very promising areas of 5G uses. Smart factories will deploy connected robots to automate dangerous and/or repetitive jobs. Quality control and standardisation of manufactured goods with precision checking through robotics and AI would become common practice.
  3. Farming sector, environment: Connected devices will transform data on weather conditions, crop health, chemical levels, pest presence, allowing proper labour allocation, cost and waste reduction and yield. Animals, marine and bird species which are getting extinct could be monitored through this next generation technology and revived. 5G technology could aid in restoring the ecological imbalance by monitoring the ecosystem in inaccessible areas. The farming industry will be totally revolutionised through such 5G wireless technology.
  4. Healthcare, telemedicine: Hospitals will be able to remotely diagnose patients and perform surgeries using this next generation technology. The 5G speed will enable telesurgery, where various hospital facilities in different locations are connected together. Medical devices can be implanted on patients, to capture health data and transmit them to healthcare specialists, allowing early detection of variation from normal health parameters.
  5. Automobile sector, transportation: Self-driving vehicles would become a common feature. The ability to communicate in real-time with other nearby vehicles and fixed roadway infrastructures will be possible with 5G technology being embedded in all of them.
  6. Virtual reality, entertainment, live event experiences: Thanks to 5G network speed and low latency, virtual reality could finally become a viable reality. Virtual Reality will allow colleagues from different geographies to work “side by side,” or sports fans to experience the stadium crowd feel from the comfort of their couches. One could virtually roam shopping districts in different cities of the world and have the goods shipped to their homes. Unlimited data rates and minimal latency would make playing offline downloaded material from companies like Netflix, Spotify, Amazon unnecessary. Cloud services would be the 5th generation technology base.

7. STL and 5G technology

STL has been ready for the 5G technology revolution. In July2020, Sterlite Technology Limited mentioned that it would be investing in 5G architecture to develop Make in India ecosystem. Investment would be in the form of hardware, software and people recruitment. 5G India is what STL is working towards.

“We are seeing the current telecom infrastructure evolving to a new digital network architecture – virtual, converged, disaggregated, and close to the Edge”, said Anand Agarwal, Group CEO, STL. He added that STL is positioned with its 5G ecosystem and digital network integration capabilities to deliver next-generation digital networks for its customers globally.

One can read about STL’s 5G readiness through these links:

8. 5G FAQs

a. What will 5G do?

5G technology will create a connected, secure world through connectivity. People, gadgets, buildings, infrastructure will be talking to each other through this next generation technology. Possibility of remote surgeries, telemedicine, self-driving cars, smart cities and smart factories, virtual reality experience while gaming, shopping and viewing sporting events is what 5G is built to do.

b. Which countries have 5G? 5G network countries.

As of August2020, 38 countries have 5G networks deployed. A quick review of the infographics from Statista will give us an idea:

Where 5G Technology has been deployed in world

c. Who developed 5G?

Development of 5G cannot be attributed to a single person or company. It is really a collaboration between various parts of the world. The important thing is to have uniform standard for proper development of 5G technology. The standards for 5G technology was set by 3GPP in mid-2018. 3GPP is a conglomerate of 7 regional organizations.

How is 5G different from 4G

d. Will 5G kill WiFi ?

As of now, 5G technology is not built to cross out WiFi. 5G could provide an alternate in places having sketchy WiFi. It is better if WiFi and 5G work in tandem with each other and develop better versions to achieve the goal of strong connectivity.

e. What under lying technologies make up 5G?

5G technology is based on OFDM. OFDM means the process of coding digital data on different bandwidths and frequencies. Along with OFDM , 5G technology also uses 5G NR air interface.

  • How and when will 5G affect the global economy?

According to a report by Huawei, 5G technology could add $1.5 trillion by 2030, across key industries.

STL mentioned that 5G technologies solutions could add $200 billion in benefits.

One can read about the details in the following blog:

https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252490151/5G-technology-could-increase-global-economy-by-15tn-by-2030

  • What does 5G mean for consumers?

With 5G technology, faster mobile internet connection is just the beginning, for consumers. A stronger, secure connection at greater speed and lower latency will help the consumer with many more devices being connected with this next generation technology. Self-driving cars, smart homes, virtual reality experience while gaming, shopping and viewing sporting events, tele medicines and remote health monitoring are  what the consumers can look forward to with 5G.

  • How do cities use 5G?

IoT (Internet of Things) sensors will monitor and collect data on air quality, energy usage, traffic patterns for cities. This will help civic authorities to effectively manoeuvre their operations. Emergency vehicles like ambulances, fire engines, police cars will be able to connect with their destination unhindered.  Smart buildings will be able to supply basic amenities without disruptions and would become hub spots for working population. These are the benefits of smart cities using 5G technology . Millions of devices will be connected to help collect data and operate based on demand and supply. Some of the sectors which will be truly automated ad connected for cities is below.

How do cities use 5G

i. 5G speed – How fast is 5G?

The 5G speed is 20 times faster than the previous generation, has much lower latency and tremendously improved reliability. Theoretically, 5G download speed is set to achieve 10gbps over a 1gbps for 4G technology.

  • How does 5G work?

5G uses cell sites which divide the area into sectors and send data through radio waves. This principle is similar to earlier networks. Each cell site should be connected to a network, and the type of network 5G uses is OFDM. This enables the 5G radio waves to get better speed through more efficient coding.

  • Does 5G change my home internet service?

5G is a wireless solution. Internet needs cables that connect to modems which then connects to home internet. At present it seems that 5G and home internet will probably run in tandem together. 5G will not be able to replace internet services totally in the immediate future as it has its own settling it parameters.

Wireless 5G reception might not be similar in various local geographies – urban and rural. The 5G wireless services might be costlier in the beginning for individuals. Moreover not all gadgets are yet 5G compliant, hence might not run if the fifth generation is fully encompassed.

  • Do I need a new phone for 5G technology to work?

The simple answer is that you will need a 5G compliant phone to access a 5G technology network. However, one need not discard the old phone yet. 5G technology works distinctly on top of the 4G technology. If your phone is working on 4G, it will continue to do so. 5G will not replace 4G wireless technology soon and your 4G technology enabled phone will continue to work.

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