So most of you will be using 4G, and have lived through and used 3G, and maybe you even remember 2G and 1G. “G” stands for generation, so 5G simply refers to the fifth generation of wireless technology.
1G: Used for “brick phones” or large phones that people used to carry around in a case. 1G used analog telecommunications. 1G was introduced in 1979
2G: This is where the network becomes digital. With 2G phone conversations can now be digitally encrypted and allow for a varied level of service, with SMS, MMS and picture messages. 2G was released in 1991
3G: Information gets faster with 3G, 200kbits/s in fact. 3G allowed for mobile internet access, video calls, mobile TV technologies, and wireless internet access. Although it was possible to navigate around the internet with 3G, most of you will remember that it was often painfully slow. 3G was first introduced in 1998. There was also a 3.5G which was somewhere in the middle of 3G and 4G.
4G: It has all the tech of 3G, but faster and allows for connectivity on a wide range of devices allowing for gaming services, video conferencing, mobile web access, high definition mobile TV, cloud computing and 3D television. 4G was introduced in 2008. There is also a 4.5G which provides increased performance on 4G.
People are expecting a lot from 5G, after all, we all want fast downloads, a more reliable viewing experience, high-quality crisp video playing, and reliable internet phone calls. So what can we expect?
5G will be much faster than 4G, approximately 10 to 20 times faster than 4G, and faster than most home internet speeds. A requirement of 5G is that it has to support rates of several tens of Mb/s for tens of thousands of users. In technical lab tests, 4.5Gb/s has been achieved, but things often work differently in the real world. Some real-world tests have been conducted, and these have suggested 1GB/s is an easily achievable speed for 5G. This is already way above what we’re used to with 4G.
Network providers in the UK are already gearing up to provide 5G, but it isn’t yet clear when they will be fully ready. It is actually more likely that we will have 5G ready phones before we have 5G in operation. Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC and an additional 14 networks have already announced that they are working on bringing out 5G capable devices by working with Qualcomm, the chip manufacturer. The companies in question are rumored to have 5G ready devices available in 2019. However, it seems unlikely we will see 5G in 2019, but 2020 is feasible.
In order for 5G to be widespread, the networks will have to conduct a fair amount of testing, and so far it doesn’t seem like enough is going on in that space for us to be confident that we are around the corner from 5G. However, it's been confirmed that the West Midlands will get £75 million in public funding to develop and test 5G in the region. The plans for West Midlands include the ability to stream CCTV cameras on buses directly to the police, allowing them to respond more quickly to incidents.
Although we may not see 5G in 2019, exciting things are happening in the space, and the networks are continuing to move forward with plans to enable it as soon as possible
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