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Future Tech: 

5G – Everything you need to know


All hail the pylon – God of the internet

Just like the smartphones in our pockets, mobile networks are constantly evolving. When not basking in the glory of your own WiFi connection, you’re probably waiting for a video to load or complaining about the speed of 3G – right? Of course, early-adopters will already be rocking the super fast 4G – but soon even that will begin to feel outdated. Its replacement? You guessed it, 5G.

What is 5G?

As you’ve no doubt deduced from the name, 5G will be the 5th generation of mobile communications and is expected to see a major leap in capabilities. Just as 3G brought us wide-scale data sharing on-the-go, and 4G made everything 5-times as fast, 5G will transform our lives in new and unexpected ways.

Just how fast will 5G be?

Really, really fast. The network doesn’t exist yet so it’s difficult to say exactly, but some predictions have suggested that 5G could be up to 250 times speedier than its predecessor. To put that into some perspective, a Gizmodo report on Samsung’s early tests commented that the network will make 4G look like dial-up.

Okay okay, a lot words about nothing – you need to see some hard figures, right? According to reports, a movie which currently takes around 6 minutes to download could now be beamed directly to your smartphone or tablet in more like 6 seconds. Finally, the future has arrived.

What else can it do?

As well as breaking all current browsing and streaming records, it’s expected that 5G will play a major role in initiating the Internet of Things. If you didn’t already know, this refers to a network of soon-to-be everyday household objects that communicate to make our leaves easier. So, you might have an alarm clock that doesn’t stop at waking you, but also tells the kettle to boil and orders the toaster into action. With more and more of these interconnected devices entering our homes, a robust 5G network will soon be a must.

That’s not to mention the impact a reliable, efficient, super-fast network it could have on transport. You may have seen Google’s self-driving car in the news recently? Now imagine the roads are full of them – beaming all the latest traffic information to one another to ensure safe driverless journeys. This is all a long way off, of course, but such a model would be completely out of the question on current 4G and 3G networks.

How long do we have to wait?

Following the 10-year trend set by previous mobile networks, 5G is likely to see a mainstream rollout in 2022. Yes, that’s ages away, but recent news rumblings have hinted that it could be completed ahead of schedule. Mayor of London Boris Johnson recently promised that the capital city can expect to get its hands on the network in 2020, desperate not to fall behind again after the UK’s late adoption of 4G. We’ll believe it when we see it, Boris.

If the UK wants to be first to experience 5G, though, it’ll have to beat South Korea who led the way with 4G. Both South Korea and Japan will be given extra incentive by the Olympics (South Korea 2018) and Winter Olympics (Japan 2020), which would make the ideal place to showcase the technology.  Either way, the development and infrastructure is going to cost billions of dollars.

Place your bets, then – the race begins here.

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