Mobile networks are never standing still for too long – they are a constantly evolving area of technology. It feels like yesterday that we were embracing the fourth generation of mobile communications, 4G, with its fast mobile broadband that made it quicker to surf the Web on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Now we are already in the early stages of introducing the next wave of mobile technology: 5G. Previous generations of this technology have given us voice, data and video. So what exactly can we expect from this innovation when it begins to roll out? We take a look at everything you need to know about 5G so far. (Get to know 4G in The Real Score on 4G Wireless.)
5G Is Going to Be Incredibly Fast
In Seoul, South Korea, which currently boasts the fastest Internet connection in the world, you can download an 800 MB movie in just 40 seconds on their 4G network. This raises the question of just how much quicker 5G could possibly be.
5G is in its early stages and the specifics are therefore still being defined, but if early claims are anything to go by, the answer is that 5G is going to be fast. Incredibly fast. It’s estimated that an entire movie could take as little as one second to download.
It’s Going to Support a Lot of Devices
The Internet of Things – a connected network that no longer just includes computers and touch screens but also household appliances, accessories, vehicles and even clothing – is coming. 4G is simply unable to accommodate the number of devices that would be net-connected when this becomes a reality. This is where 5G comes in.
It’s 5G that’s expected to power the Internet of Things. Each person should be able to have at least 10 connected devices when it eventually rolls out. Not only will it be faster; it will also be much smarter. Whether they’re wearables, smartphones or tablets, the connected devices will work together in a 5G world, communicating with the apps and services you use. Ericsson, for instance, is developing 5G-networked cars that can guide themselves and even warn drivers about impending accidents.
5G Will Cost a Lot of Money
It’s difficult to predict the exact figure that will be spent on 5G at such an early stage. However, we do know that it will be a lot. British Prime Minister David Cameron has agreed to invest £71 million ($117 million) to develop 5G research and its role in the Internet Of Things. The University of Surrey has already opened a 5G research center with this money, and it is being backed by the likes of U.K. network EE … despite the fact that EE customer service reps are still receiving complaints about their ongoing 4G roll out.
Chinese networking firm Hawaii has also announced plans to invest $600 million between now and 2018, while the Minister for Engineering, Science and Technology in South Korea estimates that private companies could be shelling out up to $905 million from their accounts to build out the new technology, while the government is spending $1.5 billion for upgrades geared toward 5G. There’s no word yet on what’s being spent in the U.S., but tests with 5G are being carried out. What we know for sure is that money will be spent on creating the 5G infrastructure and launching it worldwide – lots of it.
But It Could Help the Economy
With so much of the globe now dependent on Internet access, fast network capabilities are an imperative part of building a strong economy. The United Kingdom, for instance, was the last of the major Western regions to gain 4G, and it cost the economy enormously. Technology firms and governments are therefore being urged to work hand in hand to launch 5G.
The introduction of the technology could help stimulate the growth of industries relying on the Internet of Things in the coming years. Meanwhile, the South Korean government intends to make early progress in order to retain its dominion of the global mobile communication equipment market. This country was a leader in rolling out 4G and the nation became a home for tech innovation as a result.
It Could Be Here As Early As 2020
With everyone from Samsung and Huawei to the British and South Korean governments planning to start testing 5G technology as soon as 2015, it’s clear that 5G isn’t too far from becoming a reality. When will it mean faster and smarter networks than ever before? It’s estimated that commercial services are scheduled to roll out at the turn of the decade in 2020.