3G and 4G technology is most often equated with smartphones. That’s because the systems were designed for voice and mobile data respectively.
And while it’s true that 5G’s dramatic speed increases will mean so much more than just higher-quality streaming and lightning quick downloads, the fact that it’s been designed from the ground up for data connectivity will be the game changer.
Faster connectivity and low-to-no latency will unlock operational benefits in every industry on the planet. Up until now there has been only talk, but with test systems now in place, those operational benefits are becoming clear.
In a market reliant on data-intensive machine applications, the higher speeds and low latency of 5G is required for the effective use of autonomous robotics technology, wearables and virtual reality.
Unlike previous jumps in levels of technology in industry, 5G won’t fundamentally redesign the production line. But what it will do is offer manufacturers an opportunity to build smart factories that can adapt to changing market conditions.
In early 2019, the world’s first live surgery via remote assistance took place successfully in China. An experienced surgeon inserted a stimulation device in the brain of a Parkinson’s patient. The almost instantaneous latency of 2 milliseconds allowed the surgeon to accurately conduct the procedure as if they were right next to the patient, whereas in fact they were 3,000 kilometers away. The latency resembles surgery using a traditional cabled monitor solution.
The Journey to 5G
2G: Enabled wireless telephone calls
3G: Enabled the mobile web
4G: Enabled video streaming and apps that require sustained connectivity
5G: The post-smartphone era of mobile connectivity
The backbone of the 5G standard is comprised of low-, mid- and high-band spectrum. There are two frequencies that 5G networks can operate on: sub-6 GHz and millimeter-wave (20-60 GHz).
Carriers were already using sub-6 spectrum for existing LTE networks, and now they need more of it to build out 5G. Millimeter-wave frequency was previously unused, and the advent of 5G has given carriers access to the spectrum that will enable the faster speeds we expect with the new standard.