How long did it take you to load this article from when you saw the description? A few seconds? Milliseconds? Nanoseconds? You probably didn’t notice because the speed was so fast, any delay was negligible. What if the same question is asked about how long it takes to download that movie or application? It probably took a few minutes more, right?
What if you were told that you can download that same movie that takes almost an hour to stream in just a few seconds? Do you think it is achievable? Do you think it is possible before the end of this year? Just hold your thought for a second.
What is 5G?
1G was analog cellular, 2G brought about CDMA, GSM, and the TDMA, with 3G, we had EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS. If all these acronyms seem confusing, the most important thing to note here is that with these technologies, the best speed we got was between 200 kb per second and a few megabits per second.
Now, with 4G, we enjoyed WiMAX and LTE and this was an astronomical leap in the right direction. This heralded the move to speeds of hundreds of megabits, even gigabits. 5G even offers more; we have an improved speed, enhanced responsiveness, and the capability for more devices to be connected.
The encoding system used for 5G networks is the OFDM and it is similar to that being used by 4G LTE. The only difference is that the air interface will enjoy the improved flexibility and lower latency.
When Can We Expect the 5G?
At the moment, AT&T is leading the pack and they have announced that mobile 5G will be provided in 12 cities before the end of 2018. One thing that might, however, slow down this splendid plan is that there’s no plan for 5G phones yet until 2019.
Verizon has also promised to launch the 5G mobile network in 2019 and they have also announced their first 5G phone; Moto Z3. We also have T-Mobile and Sprint announcing plans to launch their 5G network and phones, all in 2019.
The Impact of 5G on Smart Cities
As the concept of smart cities become ubiquitous, 5G connectivity will be a prominent driving force. It will be useful to explore some of the ways in which 5G will fuel this technology.
Smart Traffic management
At the moment, we have the infrastructure supporting the management of traffic in cities. However, these systems are considered below par in several ways. The major advantage 5G will bring is that traffic flow can be monitored in real time. The concomitant lag associated with systems that are not as fast will be eliminated and road users can get alerts about any accident or gridlock on their paths.
The Smart Grid
One very important feature of a smart system is the ability to intelligently manage and control the different connected components. With improved network connectivity, real-time load shedding and load scheduling can be carried out. This means that during the peak period, the system will allow resources using sophisticated algorithms.
This also means that a blackout will not be as rampant, and even when it occurs, the problem will be diagnosed in real-time.
Home Automation Devices
Think of all the smart devices you have in your home at the moment. How effective are they? Now, imagine Siri or Cortana answering you within milliseconds, giving you the answer you need. This will make interaction with your devices seamless.
The emergence of 5G will ensure that developments in imaging, diagnostics, data analytics, and even proffering treatments. The reliability of this connection will improve the response time and also facilitate the provision of emergency services in real time. With 5G, wearables will also work better and faster, minimizing health risks in the process.
Connected Cars and Self-Driving Cars
So many companies are now investing heavily in the concept of self-driving cars; Waymo leading in this regard. The announcement of 5G technology will go a long way in ensuring that this dream is a reality. The improved coverage and speed will facilitate the exchange of data with other objects on the road, and the road itself.
5G is a truly exciting technology and you should be excited about it too! China will account for about 32% of the total 5G market by the year 2025 and this will be followed closely by Europe and the US (17% and 16% respectively).