When the mobile phone was first introduced to the world, engineers quickly realised that there would need to be some kind of network that linked them all together, allowing different forms of communication. These mobile networks were nothing new by the time the first cellular phones became popular, as they were based off of existing radio technology that had gained prominence since the Second World War.
These basic networks allowed for mobile phone users to make calls and send texts, and not much more. But over time, as more and more advanced devices started hitting the market, it became apparent that we’d need better networks that were capable of handling the increased traffic.
We began with the 1G network, and while it was incredibly slow by today’s standards, it provided enough bandwidth for limited connectivity, allowing users to log into the Internet for the first time.
But the Internet grew exponentially, and mobile carrier networks expanded further, introducing 2G, and then 3G, and finally 4G, which is what we have today. And while we can happily browse the net, check emails, play online pokies, and even stream films on 4G, there is a new network on the horizon: 5G.
When Can We Expect 5G?
At the moment, 5G is still in developmental stages, and it will be at least another year before it becomes available to the public. 5G can make use of the 4G networks that are currently in place, which means that there will not need to be many physical upgrades performed on pre-existing infrastructure.
5G networks are expected to be deployed by such companies as Intel, Qualcomm, Lenovo, Nokia, Samsung, Huawei, ZTE, and Ericsson. Worldwide deployment on a commercial level is expected sometime in 2020, but a number of operators have already demonstrated the capabilities of 5G, such as Korea Telecom during the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Four major operators within the U.S. have announced the deployment of 5G to their customers. Mobile operator networks aside, 5G is also expected to be utilised for private-usage networks, such as enterprise networking, critical communication, and industrial IoT.
Expected 5G Speeds
5G speeds are predicted to be many times that of what 4G is capable of. The maximum achievable data rate on a network with no traffic peaks at around 20 gigabits per second, significantly faster than 4G, and outperforming most home ADSL, VDSL, and even fibre network speeds.
The data rate that the average user can expect, however, is 1 gigabit per second, which is almost 1000 times faster than the average home broadband line. Latency is expected to be as low as 1 millisecond within a radius of at most 500 km from the network source exchange, such as signal towers.
5G is expected to provide faster, more stable access to the internet, and most phones from the start of 2019 will be able to make use of 5G networks, taking us even further into a future of almost instantaneous streaming and downloads.