It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were trying to figure out what 4G was, then after we figured it out we were stuck with the confusion about the different types of 4G networks being offered by the phone networks. Well, it looks like it is time for us to be confused once again. The latest on network connections and cellular technology to hit the news is 5G. What is 5G?
Technically, 5G simply means that it is the “fifth generation” in cellular technology, but it is going to be far more than a simple upgrade. This will be a huge step.
What is 5G? The Generations of the Cell Phone
The first generation of analog wireless phones are referred to as 1G. These are the large, clunky items that the wealthy carried around in the 1980s. They revolutionized telephones by allowing people to suddenly make phone calls from almost anywhere. They were capable of 2 Mbps.
In the ’90s, we saw the birth of 2G phone, with a capacity of 11 Mbps.. This was a huge step in cellular technology because they now utilized a digital signal instead of the old analog. This also saw the birth of text messaging.
Cellular phones continued to gain popularity, causing an increased demand for faster data transmission speeds. This led to the birth of 3G in the 2000s. Networks were now capable of 54 Mbps.
Gradually, cell phones became an intricate part of our lives; they are used every day for everything. Today’s cell phones are used for so much more than was ever envisioned by their creators. From banking to checking the weather, and even occasionally they’re used to make a phone call. This increased demand was more than the 3G networks could handle, thus the 4G network was born. This has been the biggest jump to date, providing up to 600Mbps.
Unfortunately, as the capabilities increase, so does demand. This means that systems can easily forecast a time in the not-so-distant future when the current 4G networks will be too slow. This means that there will be a need for a new generation in cell phone technology.
When is 5G coming?
The fifth generation of cell phone technology has not yet made an appearance, but it’s not too far away. Last month, the European Commission announced their Horizon 2020 plan which put about $172 Million into 5G research. The year 2020 is also the year that Samsung claims they will be able to make 1Gbps capacity a reality.
The big problem with 5G is that everyone has a slightly different definition. All the big players claim to be investing money, but most of them seem to be approaching from a different direction. It seems like the true definition of 5G will probably be created by whoever produces it first.
Capabilities of 5G
One of the big pushes with cell phone technology is remote automation. Unfortunately, with our current network, the capability of remote automation is very limited. It might sound like something out of Star Trek, but one of the hopes of the 5G network is that it will be capable of location-aware services.
A new version of the smart home that it is more intelligent and aware of the events around it. One that will function more off of intelligence and less off of pre-programmed commands. Imagine a house that will automatically adjust the climate control settings when the resident leaves or returns, or that will customize the temperature based upon which person is in the house. Or how about a system that will automatically route phone calls to your location, even when you forgot to set call forwarding?
The house would also be capable of calling 9-1-1 during emergencies. A non-responsive senior citizen wouldn’t languish on the floor, since help would be on the way within minutes.
To do some of these and other large scale operations, you would need a larger system, with more capabilities, thus the need for a 5G network.
The new 5G network may not be here yet, but give it time, it won’t be long before you will be answering others, when they ask, “What is 5G?”