What is 5G?
5G - the next-generation mobile network technology - is perhaps the most significant technological shift we will see since computers replaced typewriters. 5G isn’t just a network - it will become the underlying fabric of an entire ecosystem of fully connected intelligent sensors and devices. It will be capable of overhaul economic and business policies, which will further blur geographical and economic borders.
5G will be capable of delivering at every rung of the ecosystem’s ladder and will provide seamless, continuous connectivity for business applications. Infographic: 5G – keys for creating the new communications era (Nokia)
When will it arrive?
Commercial availability is expected as soon as 2020. While the official standards for 5G are still being drafted by international standardization bodies such as 3GPP, at this stage the exact key performance requirements for 5G are being reviewed and finalised by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) is also working with government and industry to ensure 5G is successfully rolled out in Australia.
What can we expect from 5G?
Based on a draft report from ITU members, including key industry players, national and regional standards development organisations, regulators, network operators, equipment manufacturers, and academia, we will likely see the following from 5G:
Super-fast wireless broadband
5G network technology is poised to push the performance envelope, with expected peak data up to 20 Gbps for download speeds, and an uplink peak data rate of up to 10Gbps – around 20 times faster than current 4G download speeds, and upwards of 60 times quicker than current 4G upload speeds. This is underpinned by a high bandwidth spectrum.
These improvements to the network should enable more efficient data transmission, resulting in lower cost-per-bit for data, which will be an important driver for increased use of broadband applications on mobile networks. This is likely to allow wireless technology to provide an ultra-reliable connection that is indistinguishable from wireless to support applications such as autonomous vehicles and AR/VR experiences.
Massive machine connectivity - IoT at the heart of design
5G will probably build upon existing investments in traditional machine-to-machine (M2M) and IoT applications, moving from millions of devices to billions of things.
Ultra reliable and low latency
Proposed 5G use cases require high reliability and ultra-low latency connectivity with strong security and availability. Lower latency means faster application response times with Edge computing – having the applications near the edge of the network.
5G should support a 1000-fold traffic increase over the next decade, with an energy consumption roughly half of that typically consumed by today’s network technology. 5G’s improved low-power requirements, the ability to operate in the licensed and unlicensed spectrum, and its ability to provide deeper and more flexible coverage will drive significantly lower costs.
Secure by design
It is anticipated that 5G will support a wide range of applications and environments, from human-based to machine-based communication. As such, it must protect large volumes of sensitive data from unauthorised access.
Optus has already successfully completed a 5G network trial with technology partner Huawei - achieving the fastest speeds observed of a single user transmission over 5G in Australia so far at 35Gbps over the 73 GHz band. We've also switched on 4.5G network services at selected locations.
How 5G could change business
5G will allow cities, transportation, and infrastructure to transmit real-time data for improved maintenance, safety and greater operational efficiency. It will potentially expand business opportunities and business models through monitoring, tracking and automation capabilities on a large scale. With 5G, industries will have connectivity that is customised for their requirements, and the ability to move quickly to meet customer needs and stay ahead of the competition.
5G will support cloud-native attributes like network slicing and on-demand scalable resource provisioning, enabling agility of product and service innovation for all market segments. Improved capacity and speed means fewer constraints on data transmissions, providing the bandwidth needed for streaming high definition content, such as ultra-high definition 360ᵒ virtual reality videos.
5G will undoubtedly impact all industry verticals - from retail to education, farming, transport, health and financial services - bringing both innovation and disruption. 5G will link infrastructure, people, machines, robotics, AI, and nanotechnology into a single ecosystem. A single network that can support IoT devices, as well as large scale mobile broadband, presents a huge opportunity and threat for businesses on the horizon.
If you need help considering what 5G means for your industry and your business, please get in touch with us here.
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Disclaimer: With the exception of the paragraph titled ‘Preparation underway’, this article refers to 5G generically based on the information gathered from the sources listed below. We are not referring to any specific carrier network or its capabilities, rather the planned global 5G standards.
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