Why 5G is a bigger deal than you might have thought
The 5G revolution has been really hyped up, promising a lot of stuff that were impossible with 4G networks. For many countries, they have reportedly reached a point where further deployment of 4G is just unfeasible (McKinsey, 2018), thus necessitating the jump to 5G. What does 5G bring to the table that 4G can’t deliver?
For starters, 5G networks can support way more devices than 4G networks. With even kids using smartphones nowadays, the number of connected devices is just set to grow. Then there’s the speed. 5G network trials have shown promise with up to 10x better connectivity. Those are pretty impressive figures, and definitely matches or exceeds what some of us can even achieve on fiber connections. So you got the fast speed and low latency, but what are the applications of such a network?
For us regular folks, it would mean that we can enjoy faster downloads and uploads over a 5G network. With such speeds, you might be inclined to use 5G at home as well, especially in areas where you can’t get fiber connectivity such as old high rise buildings. Speaking of using it at home, one of the reasons why we don’t generally use 4G as our home network internet connection and instead opt for fiber services is because of the latency. As gamers, I believe many of us would know that latency can make or break a game, so 5G might just be the answer for us.
But 5G is not just about us end users. The International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) has defined three main usage scenarios for 5G networks (ITU-R Recommendation M.2083, 2015). The first is Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), which is what we have discussed earlier. 5G is the evolution of 4G mobile networks, and we will enjoy the benefits such as higher speeds and lower latency. This is what most of us will experience when we get a 5G smartphone and connect to a 5G network.
There’s Massive Machine-Type Communication (mMTC) where 5G networks are deployed to connect large numbers of IoT devices. That’s up to 1 million devices in a square kilometer area, so yeah, it’s really a lot. This can include all kinds of sensors and monitors such as the kind implemented in smart cities, and with support for up to a million devices in a square kilometer, you are looking at massive scalability. For examples, you can look at Celcom’s recent trials at Langkawi Port and Petaling Jaya, with the implementation of 360-degree 4K surveillance cameras with AI analytics.
Then there’s ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC) where networks are used for mission critical applications that need fast data exchange between devices like autonomous vehicles or remote surgeries. This will be the true test of a 5G network, as it would result in absolutely catastrophic results if the 5G network is unable to perform.
2020 will definitely be the year 5G becomes mainstream, as 5G networks roll out and more affordable mid-range 5G smartphones become available. To see what the future of 5G holds, check out what Celcom has in store for the upcoming network standard.