The evolution is here, meet 5G

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The hunger of bigger and better exists in the networking fraternity as well. The struggle to come up with the latest technology and greater speeds is taking communication to another level. The use of technology for entertainment purposes cannot be overlooked. Smartphones came with a lot of potentials and have now translated into a major industry. Apps and mobile games have taken the world by storm. Gaming is not only limited to consoles or PCs but mobile games are the new norm.

The constant evolution of internet speeds led to innovations and continues to change the world. Greater speeds come with greater innovation and have an impact of their own. There was a time when 3G was the highest mark but then the data demand grows and the speed is insufficient. Engineers and innovators join heads and come up with 4G. This momentum did not stop and a new generation emerges. Yes, it is 5G. It is here and we’ve got a big chunk that gives an insight.

A brief history of the mobile internet

The history of mobile communication is older than you may know. The speeds that you enjoy and the clarity you know took decades to develop. We’ve gathered the pieces to let you in on this journey.

Believe it or not, the mobile communication system was first launched in the 1970s. It took 20 years to get 20 million subscribers around the world. The term “cell phone” comes from this era. 1G analogue was the industry norm and “cellular” was the term used to describe this technology. Honeycomb cells used the same frequency radio waves to ensure better network connectivity.

GSM is a key innovation of this time. This era saw mobile industry going through a number of changes. The services were limited though. Only phone calls were possible using towers that would exchange data packets.

GSM and 2G led the way to rapid innovation. The first one was the introduction of text messaging back in 1993. This was just the first step. Progress was made and the same technology later helped in coming up with services like voicemail and basic web connectivity.

Late 1990 saw the introduction of mobile data. Devices using data were taken as minicomputers. This was the stepping stones for the modern day smartphones. Mobile phones sent data requests Using WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). This was the first mobile web service. WAP-enabled phones were commercially available around 2000.

This may seem like progress but it was not simple to use. Since touch screens were not very common, this meant poor navigation. The mobile web did not have to offer much anyways. WAP did not last long. It was soon replaced by EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution). 

International Telecommunication Union approved 3G around 2003. This generation of connectivity was a leap ahead. It came with greater bandwidth and higher speeds. These features were the real stepping stones for the smart devices we have today. 3G was capable of providing speeds up to 21 Mbps.

These higher speeds were more suited to smartphones. This made sure that the mobile users enjoy broadband matching speeds. This game-changing technology used permit validation which made it safer than its predecessor. Higher bandwidth meant an upgrade from voice calls to video calls.  In addition to all of this, 3G helped in developing advanced GPS systems.

4G

Failing to meet standard requirements was the reason in the delayed launch of 4G. Data transmission speeds and safety were the main concerns. Engineers and experts word hard to come up with Internet Protocol to transmit data. After much efforts, 4G was finally launched around 2008.

OFDMA multiplexing technique was the core of 4G. This meant clearer voice quality over phone calls. It also helped to minimise latency. This may be impressive but the hard work leads to two more technologies: LTE and WiMAX.

The star of the show: 5G

The evolution has to lead us to 5G and here is what you need to know about it:

What to expect

There is no set benchmark for 5G as yet but there is a lot of expectations from it. According to rumours, fast connectivity speeds are a must. Steps are being taken to minimise latency. Technologies like IoT (Internet of Access) may also become easily accessible. Speeds of up to 1GB can be achieved. Great right? Huge files downloaded in a few minutes.

Technicalities

G network uses a system of cells. The cells sites have divided a territory into smaller sectors and dispatch data. The data transmission is done by using radio waves. The cell site needs to be connected to a network backbone. The connection can either be wired or wireless.

1. Encoding

5G networks use OFDM type of coding. This coding is similar to the one 4G uses. The air interface will be designed in an efficient manner. This will ensure minimum latency with greater flexibility than 4G.

5G networks need to be way smarter than their predecessors. They will be balancing much smaller cells that will be able to change shape and sizes. 5G should also be able to ramp up capacity by simply upgrading antenna technology.

2. Frequency

5G uses two types of airwaves: below and above 6GHz. Low-frequency 5G networks use networks and Wi-Fi bands that already exist. It uses flexible coding and bigger channel size to achieve better speeds than LTE.

The real game changer is the 5g that uses higher frequencies. This also known as millimetre wave. The frequencies currently used have a lot of load. Higher frequencies, on the other hand, a wider available spectrum and provide a bigger channel for very high speeds. These bands are used at the back ends and were not available for commercial use.

Progress

AT&T has already made upgrades in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City Raleigh, and Waco. While Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, and San Antonio will receive network upgrades by the end of 2018. Meaning? These cities will be ready for 5G. This is not the end and early 2019 should see an expansion to this list. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose are set to be the newcomers to the list of cities.

While mobile networks have prepared for network upgrades, mobile phone companies have yet to come at par. There are rumours that OnePlus aims at launching a 5G phone in 2019.

Nathan John, content editor, Uverse internet
Image Credit: Uverse internet