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5G Summit – What is 5G? How does it differ from 4G?

5G is the next major phase of mobile telecommunications and follows the global adoption of the 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) standard since 2012. A new telecommunications standard is introduced approximately every ten years – 2G was in introduced in 1991, 3G in 2001 and 4G in 2012 – and 5G is expected to be made available in 2020-2022.

The fifth generation of mobile technology does not have a defined universally agreed upon standard – although a few likely technologies are emerging – and whereas 4G connections offer average speeds of 25-40Mbps at home, 5G is likely to offer speeds in excess of 500Mbps. Many entities believe that 5G will be defined by its ability to offer 1Gbps mobile seconds to ten (or more) simultaneous connections and Chinese mobile giant Huawei expects 5G to be at least 100 times faster than the fastest 4G LTE standard currently available (which offers download speeds of 300Mbps on the go).

A 4G+ speed test – 5G could be up to 100 times faster

Understanding 5G technologies and frequencies:

4G in the UK currently uses the LTE standard with radio waves operating on the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2.6GHz frequency bands. The 1800MHz band were repurposed by EE and Three to use with LTE whilst the other frequencies were made available to all networks in the 4G spectrum auction back in 2012.

Huawei believe that 5G will be based upon a combination of both new radio access technologies (RAT) and existing wireless technologies (such as LTE, HSPA, GSM and Wi-Fi), whilst others such as Samsung and researchers at New York University have discussed the concept of using millimetre-wave frequencies.

Millimetre-Wave frequencies lie between 3 to 300MHz which is much higher than existing network standards and offer the key benefit that they are scarcely used by other broadcast technologies – such as AM/FM Radio and TV – which means it has the potential for greater speeds and the capacity of more data to pass through it.

The millimetre-wave approach does have some potential downfalls as these waves do not pass through solid objects very well which makes them difficult to sustain over long distances. As a result, any millimetre-wave approach would use lots of smaller base stations (whereas current mobile networks rely on a combination of large base stations and smaller antennae in densely populated areas) and it’s expected that this approach will be used by all 5G standards to ensure maximum capacity and minimal latency.

As mentioned elsewhere, there is no universal 5G standard defined and when eventually launched, we could see a variety of standards operating under the 5G banner, similar to how both LTE and WiMAX – an American LTE standard used by CDMA networks – operate under the 4G banner.

Thanks to The fonearena Blog!