What is this 5G LTE they speak of?

LTE or Long-Term Evolution networks is the gold standard for the high-speed wireless Internet we have today. Although the industry is already gearing up for 5G networks, there is still a lot of activity ongoing for LTE. Advances in the 4G LTE ecosystem are enabling operators to upgrade while simultaneously testing the waters for 5G continuously.

Today’s 4G LTE variants: LTE-A, LTE-A Pro, and Gigabit LTE all serve as incremental stepping stones to 5G. Gigabit LTE indicates the functionality and performance the industry expects out of 5G and carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are now supporting it.


What is 5G?

5G, set to officially launch in the market by 2020, is the fifth generation wireless broadband technology that promises speeds 20 times faster than today's 4G LTE cellular networks. 5G is an umbrella term that represents a multitude of technologies coming together like massive multiple-input multiple output, beamforming, millimeter waves, full duplex and small cells.

Consumers all well acknowledge the progressions of mobile networks from 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G. Now with the enthusiastically awaited advent of 5G LTE, we're on the tip of another industrial revolution in the world of telecommunications, information technology, and wireless infrastructure.

The G in 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G means a generation of wireless technology. The line between generations has technically been defined by transmission speeds and marked by a break in encoding methods. These breaks also called "air interfaces" mark the point where the device is no longer compatible with the previous generation.

5G brings three new aspects to the scene: greater speed for more meaningful data communication, lower latency, and ability to connect to more devices at once.


What Can We Expect from 5G?

Faster Data Speed - There’s no fixed speed of how fast 5G will be, but we do know developers are currently (2018) on trial for the 5Gbps mobile 5G Internet.

We’re looking at gigabit level speeds ranging from 5 to 100 Gbps in the coming years, tenfold of what 4G LTE offers. This means you can download a full HD movie in seconds, and live stream HD content with no delays and buffers.

More Capacity - Strategy Analytics forecasts that by 2022, ten million 5G handsets will have been sold internationally and more than 300 million by 2025.

With 5g WiFi, the bandwidth capacity will also be more significant to accommodate all these devices, and their interactions are far more significant. With the Internet of Things' constant rate of expansion, size is critical, so bandwidth continues to grow as well.

Tactile Internet - With high availability, low latency, high security and high reliability, the Internet is becoming tactile. With the advent of 5G LTE, all apps can be processed in the cloud, allowing an exchange of data and multimedia content with greater mobility than ever.

Low Latency - The real buzz with 5G seems to be its low latency (or buffering time). 5G’s potential ultra-low-latency range between 1ms and 10ms means real-time data transmission. An audience member at a boxing match could also watch the live stream of another angle with no delay and will be a boost to online professional gaming.

New Format Possibilities - Latency or buffering time has been one of the most substantial challenges for the widespread adoption of augmented and virtual reality. With 5G and low latency, these new platforms can flourish in the sharing of engaging content and highly personal experiences across a variety of channels.

Internet Everywhere - 5G technology, when it hits the mainstay, promises to deliver fast Internet connectivity nearly everywhere the infrastructure takes it. So that feeling of “no Internet” is going to be in the distant past as you’ll be able to get online whenever and wherever you want it.

Internet for Everything - You can manage your smart TV, smart watch, smart refrigerator and other intelligent devices through your phone. These devices are all part of an emerging technology called the Internet of Things. IoT technology is expected to grow with the introduction of 5G wireless exponentially.

Smart Cities - Think of a centralized cloud that controls transportation networks, smart-city energy grids, and water systems. Though we still have a long way to go before we can fully grasp and comprehend what 5G will be for the evolving world, now is indeed the time to get curious.


How will 5G LTE Work?

5G networks will operate in what’s known as the millimeter wave spectrum, a very high band of frequencies most likely between 28 GHz and 300 GHz.

Millimeter wave or mm-wave bands are spectrum waves that are quickly tempered by weather, foliage, and buildings. They have been previously utilized in back-end and limited fixed wireless applications.  

Thanks to recent developments in multi-antenna (massive MIMO) ranges and beam-forming techniques, we can now use these fragile frequencies for high-speed Internet. AT&T Inc., poised to be the first to roll out 5G reports testing speeds at 1Gbps and faster at closer range.

5G networks are more likely to be systems of small cell sites, the size of home routers rather than towers to make expanding network capacity easier. The more cells you have, the more data you can put into the network.

5G networks need to be more intelligent than previous systems as they're juggling more significant quantities of different smaller cell sites. Even with current macro cell sites, 5G should still be able to boost its capacity through advanced antenna technologies.

There are ways to expand the range to 5G though by using the lower band as coverage. It will increase range but decrease overall speed. SK Telecom in Korea plans to use 28GHz signal repeaters as a way to double the range of 5G radios.

For the United States an increased deployment of mmWave small cell units to fill in coverage gaps are planned out. The Federal Communications Commission has partnered with government units across the entire country to ease public utility access to 5G operators to hasten small cell installations. The 28GHz spectrum in America is expected by November 2018.

Earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the consensus was that 5G mobile on mm-wave would have a range of 100 to 200 meters. For a 900 feet city block, this means every block would need one 5G cell unit installed.


When and Where Can We Get 5G?

AT&T proclaims they will be the first to launch mobile 5G in by the end of 2018. With 3GPP standards now available, device manufacturers have started hardware development, enabling the company to provide 5G Internet wireless services by late 2018 with Motorola already releasing a device capable of handling 5G network.  In addition, AT&T expects to trial 5G technology with businesses across the industry. However, lack of available 5G phones before 2019 can slow down AT&T's early rollout.

Verizon, on the other hand, is opening out with fixed 5G home internet service already launched in three to five cities in the USA. This utilizes home routers with fixed antennas to receive gigabit internet. Verizon’s headstart with this implementation is making it as the current leader in 5G, beating out the competition.

Colossal capacity is 5G home internet's primary advantage over 4G. There isn't enough capacity on 4G cell sites for carriers to offer competitively priced 4G home Internet.

The 5G home internet is also much more comfortable and quicker for carriers to install in homes. Rather than manually connecting wires, carriers have to stick fiber optics to a nearby cell site then give households wireless modems. For more on home Internet services, visit www.xyzies.com.


5G Implications

5G won’t just be about higher speed and capacity, but more about new services, facilities and applications it will enable. This includes the flood of IoT devices and ecosystems that demand the low latency and speeds of 5G.

To illustrate, 4G speeds currently max out at about 1Gbps. 5G will boost speeds up to 10Gbps, meaning you can download full HD movies in seconds. It will also reduce latency significantly, like 1-millisecond latency, saying you can watch HD streams smoothly in real time and gamers can play competitively without worrying about lags.

4G is still developing, and the fastest possible speed theoretically is currently close to 1Gbps. However, in actual testing and commercial use, we've only reached up to 425 Mbps on 4G LTE. Probably, 5G could deliver maximum speeds in the region of 10s-20s of gigabits per second.

The cloud is going to play a much more critical role in our lives, with smartphones required to perform supercomputer-like tasks.  With the speed of 5G, cloud computing on phones could go beyond just storage but also to run apps and games remotely. With the data essentially being processed on servers then streamed to our phones, smartphones can maintain their size and lightness.

4K, 8K, VR and holographic media will probably be streamed rather than downloaded, given their size. Theoretically, that could level out performance between low and high-end phones if even standard telephones could offload computing tasks to remote devices with a 5G connection.

5G could also make an impact on self-driving cars with its low latency.  Self-driving cars will be a daily occurrence in the streets once 5G is implemented all throughout the country.

Remember those mm waves discoursed earlier? On 5G, each stream will deliver more data at higher speeds. The only disadvantage is that they don't travel as distant as the lower-frequency waves in 4G networks — and that's something that 5G developers like Qualcomm and Intel are working to fix.  While still at its infancy, 5G already has a lot to offer, how much more when the technology matures and these issues ironed out?  For sure, 5G will bring about significant changes in the society and
internet of things.

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12 Oct 2018

By XYZies