5G is the upcoming evolution of wireless internet, succeeding 4G LTE which is currently the standard for mobile internet. Depending on the connection available, your phone will say either 4G or LTE next to the signal strength bars (unless you’re on a train, then any G would be welcome).
Except, 5G is a bit different from anything else that came before it.
During demos in 2017, 5G routers achieved speeds of up to 4 gigabits per second.
Sure, demos are set up for performance: no obstacles in between, perfect signal. But even at nearly a tenth of the speed, around 500 megabytes per second could let you download a 100 GB 4K movie in under four minutes.
To put this into context, the average internet connection speed in the UK in 2017 was 16.51 megabits per second. That 242 times slower than peak 5G speed. On that average speed, that same 4K movie would take over 16 hours to download. 1Gbps, 25% of that “perfect” 5G speed, would still be great compared to the current average.
So, how did we get to 5G?
The original Gs
The “G” in 5G stands for…“generation.”
1G was the first wireless phone technology introduced in the 1980s, which then became totally digital in the early 1990s, when companies first started enabling people to send text messages between two cellular devices.
2G then morphed into GPRS and 3G in 1998 and early 2000s, allowing for internet access and exchange of heavier media.
4G is the fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology, succeeding 3G.
At the end of 2012, 11 major UK cities were connected to 4G, which allowed fast browsing on mobile, smartphone, and tablet. Since then, 4G has grown to include nearly 99% of the UK’s population.
Why do we need a different connectivity method?
IoT devices already outnumber the world’s human population, with predictions of 20 billion connected devices by 2020 excluding smartphones, tablets, and computers. For consumers, the main types of connected devices will be vehicles, smart TVs, and digital set-top boxes, according to Gartner, while business use will be dominated by smart electric meters and commercial security cameras. And possibly freight vehicles.
Also, 5G is less reliant on cables: with wireless 5G millimeter waves, insanely fast speeds can be achieved without digging the ground, much like your mobile network for your phone.
Though, because of the very short range, the standard poses new challenges, like the need for a tight need network of antennas, which would currently be challenging outside of densely populated areas.
Testing and release dates
5G is currently being tested in the US, the UK, and a handful of other nations to determine the most efficient method of delivery. Verizon tested 5G at the Superbowl 2018, and will roll out a residential plan for 5 cities in the US.
However, it will take some time before 5G becomes widespread, but it will important to our vision of making the UK the fastest country in Europe.
We believe the future will be…fibre and wireless.
In other words, over the next few years, ultrafast internet will be the only standard capable of support the demands of augmented and virtual reality streaming, smart vehicles, mobile streaming, content creation and consumption, smart IoT devices and…a lot more.
Fibre will provide the core structure connecting cities, linking the main buildings and districts to ultrafast cabling. Microwave wireless will bridge some of them together. One layer up, 5G wireless will provide the infrastructure across the whole city, and provide backup to fibre-enabled buildings. Outside major urban areas, fibre cables will bring ultrafast connectivity to specific locations.
We’re working hard to make it all happen!