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Here's 5 things you need to know about 5G

February 14, 2018
Nicola Amis

1. It's really,
really fast

Okay, it sounds obvious, but 5G will not only be so much
faster than an existing 4G connection, it will also be significantly faster
than the broadband connection we have at home.

To put in to perspective, the fastest 4G download speeds
means it takes about 40 seconds to download a two-hour HD film; with 5G that
would be cut to one second! 5G, by comparison, promises gigabit speeds. Tests run in 2015 by researchers at the 5G Innovation Centre,
University of Surrey, achieved speeds reaching an astounding 1Tb/s, which is roughly
65,000 times faster than 4G!

Of course, that’s under lab conditions; Ofcom has said it
expects that real-world 5G will deliver between 10 and 50Gb/s.  Most of us have never experienced anything
close to speeds that fast and we're only talking about the first generation of
5G modems. Future versions are likely to be even faster.

5G networks

2. It can support
many more data connections

Yes, 5G networks will bring super-fast data connections, but
it's not all about speed.

5G will also bring much higher capacity to mobile networks.
It will be able to support many more data connections than what was previously
possible. Have you ever been to a large event where your data connection became
frustratingly slow or stopped working altogether? That's because 4G networks
can only support so many devices before being overloaded.

But 5G networks have a much higher capacity, which can
support up to a million devices per sq. km.  Which is a huge upgrade over 4G when it comes
to latency, or the amount of time it takes for data to be transmitted. Because
5G networks support extremely low-latency connections, devices will be able to
communicate much faster than previously possible.

3. 5G isn't just for

Put all this together and you begin to understand why 5G is
such a big deal — and not just for the smartphone industry. It has huge
implications for just about every connected device.

Thanks to 5G, tech like virtual reality headsets, PCs, and
smart home devices will drastically improve as well. Even daily tasks like
checking social media or initiating a video call could considerably change. It
will also be essential for self-driving cars, which will need to be able to
communicate with the world around them as quickly as possible and fast enough
to enable them to actually be fully autonomous.

The upgrade to a new 5G network will require an entire
reworking of existing networks but research suggests some fascinating new
transmission and networking technologies; spurring innovations and industries
we cannot even yet imagine.

 4. How much will it cost?

The downside of all this, at least initially, will be all that extra speed is likely to come at a higher cost. Data costs have historically climbed as network speeds increase and there's little reason to think that trend won't continue in the future.

Currently, there are no standards for 5G, but many companies are working towards agreeing on technology, specifications and costs for 5G.Despite not knowing exactly when, how much or what form 5G will arrive in, one thing is certain, the next generation of networks will create a better interconnected and smarter world.

Super-fast data connections

 5. We're not quite
there yet

Though we've seen a lot of positive progress just in the
last year, there’s still a long way to go before 5G technology surpasses 4G to
provide faster data uploads and downloads.

A government spokeswoman for the Treasury noted that the
chancellor had already committed £1bn to support 5G trials. But many industry experts
agree that it won’t be until 2020 before the earliest 5G technologies begin to
touch most consumers.

Even then, early 5G networks could come with their fair
share of teething problems — like inconsistent coverage or negative effects on
battery life. But 5G has the
potential to shape our world in ways that are completely incomprehensible at the