What is 5G technology?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes.

5G stands for “fifth generation” and represents the next big development in mobile technology.

There are some important advantages for users when this technology comes on-stream:

  • Faster connection speeds. Whether you are using a web browser, uploading photos or using an app, loading speeds will be fast. Browsing with 5G will be 10 to 20 faster than the current 4G.
  • Lower latency. Currently, latency for the 4G network is around 60 milliseconds. 5G could offer latency as low as one millisecond. This will be important for the Internet Of Things where processing time could be critical e.g. self-driving cars.
  • Will allow more connections. 5G will be allocated more frequencies on the radio spectrum to allow far more devices to access the mobile internet at the same time.

The 5G network will be built on the current 4G network but will have many more base stations or antennas than current networks. Each 5G tower will service a smaller local area so many more will be need to be built to provide reliable coverage.

While 5G will succeed 4G, it will not replace it. 4G and 5G networks will exist simultaneously.

Will 5G replace the NBN?

Certainly not within the next decade and, if NBN development explores its full potential, replacement may never happen. When it comes to high-bandwidth, data-intensive online activity, the NBN with its fixed-line connections will most likely remain the preferred option for the majority of Australians.

While some areas of central Melbourne and Sydney already have 5G, it will be some time before coverage is widely available. It is still early days for 5G. For example, Apple is not expected to release an iPhone with 5G capability until later in 2020.

Nevertheless, 5G is the future in mobile technology and we will all be using it eventually.

Here’s a taste of the benefits that 5G will bring:

  • Remote surgery. The low latency of 5G means a surgeon may not need to be in the same room as a patient in the future. For example, Ericsson, working with startup NeuroDigital Technologies and doctors at King’s College London, have used a dummy patient to demonstrate how a surgeon could use a VR headset and special glove to control a robot arm that would perform an actual operation in another location.
  • Self-driving cars. While companies like Google and Uber are investing in self-driving cars now, a fully autonomous vehicle is not really possible without a 5G network.
  • Drones. 5G could unlock the true potential of drones. For example, a drone flying over an oil drill with a video camera. The network will allow for precise control of the drone, while sending back high-definition video.
  • VR. 5G will enhance the virtual reality experience, allowing you to chat in real time with live-streaming virtual worlds. Will game arcades have a resurgence, but with a virtual reality focus?
  • Plain awesomeness! Imagine watching high resolution video with no need to buffer or downloading multi-gigabyte files in seconds. Home and mobile internet will change forever and bring a level of convenience imagined previously only in sci-fi novels.

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