June 11, 2020

A Dummies Guide to 5G

Learn more about how upcoming 5G technology will change the way we live and work.

A Dummies Guide to 5G

These days, 5G technology seems to have raised more questions than answers. Many people are wondering what 5G is and when it will come to their countries. Of course, everyone is very interested in 5G smartphones.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is one of the first phones compatible with 5G. Source

The conversation around 5G and what it can do for us has spread, especially after Huawei announced its plan to roll out the technology. In fact, a debate has started between China and the United States. So, what is 5G and why are people anxiously waiting for it?

5G—5th Generation—is the latest cellular mobile communication technology that promises, among other features, high data transmission rates. The key difference between 5G and 4G is that the rate of data transmission is supposedly 100 times faster and offers low latency—the time between the moment that information is sent to a device until it can be used by the receiver. With 5G, performance should increase dramatically, meaning that people can download and access information in a much shorter amount of time. The shift to 5G will change the way we interact with technology, and selected industries will be affected, particularly the medical and automotive industries. Here are a few examples of how 5G can transform our daily lives.

Today it's cars, tomorrow you might be able to live life on auto-pilot. Source

Autonomous vehicles

Big companies like Tesla have already produced smart cars that can operate without drivers. We can expect to see the use of autonomous vehicles to rise at the same rate that 5G is deployed across the United States. Over the long term, autonomous vehicles could naturally communicate with other vehicles to provide information about, for example, road and driving conditions. Autonomous vehicles will be able to make split-second decisions, such as swerving to prevent life-threatening situations for both passengers and pedestrians, ultimately saving lives.

5G connectivity has helped to advance rural medicine in China dramatically. Source 

Health care

In the medical field, robotic surgeries could be carried out without the fear of slow network speeds.

The low latency communications component of 5G could fundamentally change health care. In the coming years, improvements in telemedicine, remote recovery, precision surgery, and even remote surgery are expected. Hospitals will be able to develop and implement massive sensor networks to monitor patients.

Cell towers might literally be the pillars of our great civilization. Source 

Telecommunications

Telcos across Asia are expected to monetize the new 5G technology, with many advanced countries touting 5G network trials as they race to deploy the technology into their markets. Mobile data consumption will drastically increase as videos and virtual reality become the next smartphone hype.

The infrastructure changes needed to accommodate both 4G and 5G networks may mean a longer waiting time before this network becomes available across countries. Because 5G provides wider bandwidth, more cell towers need to be built to ensure signal coverage for all of their users. The need to source the space needed to install such structures explains why rolling out 5G is taking time even though it has been the talk of the town.

Over 10 billion transistors are condensed in this tiny chipset by Huawei so you can experience the fast and stable 5G networks in your daily life. Source

When can you expect to see innovations related to 5G in your country? All of the major carriers are working furiously to build 5G networks, yet deployment across an entire country will take years. Also worth knowing is that each carrier has a different 5G rollout plan, which means that your 5G experience will depend on your carrier. Currently, the top three players in the 5G field are Qualcomm, Huawei, and Nokia.

That's 4374km, 875 times the length of Singapore.

In Singapore, telcos have tested a 3-minute 5G video call from Singapore to Australia using experimental equipment from China. This test has reduced the development gap and has proven that smart devices and driverless cars can be a reality in Singapore.

Huawei was once considered the pioneer in the 5G race until it faced challenges in 2018. The U.S. sanctioned the Chinese telecoms giant over security concerns and has been lobbying Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan to follow suit. Recent news has reported that New Zealand also stopped working with China, but whether the issue is over a security or a technical concern is unclear. Nevertheless, Huawei has more than 20 commercial 5G contracts around the world.

There's also loads of talk of VR integration with 5G. Source

Despite all of the good news and fanfare over 5G, much work remains before 5G becomes widely used and is running smoothly. The United States and other western countries are moving fast to launch 5G. Powerhouses such as Japan, China, and South Korea have already been working toward being the pioneers in marketing 5G technology and have launched trials around major cities.

Ultimately, although APAC has a set of unique challenges to overcome, 5G is a reality that will soon change the way we live and work.