Here’s how 5G is going to change your life
Consumers can expect the hype over 5G to increase over the next two years as authorities complete the technical standard and spectrum allocation for the advanced mobile system
5G was the buzzword at the Mobile World Congress, the biggest annual conference and exhibition for the mobile industry, held this week in Barcelona, Spain.
Companies plastered the venue halls with prominent slogans, from “5G is now”, “Leading 5G innovation” and “Network towards 5G” to “5G is happening faster than we expected”.
Those catchphrases about the next generation of ultra-fast wireless technology may mean little to most people outside the mobile industry.
Yet 5G is what will enable a lot of the science fiction-like technologies being talked about today, such as autonomous cars and smart cities.
How fast is fast?
On a 5G network, a connected car travelling at 100 kilometres per hour (62 miles per hour) will have moved just 2.8 centimetres, or little more than inch, from the time it detects an obstacle to when it activates the brakes, according to estimates by Huawei Technologies.
That could be the difference between life and death.
Today’s 4G networks are unsuitable for the quick response times needed in autonomous driving.
Smartphone users will be able to send ultra-high 4k resolution video within a few seconds. Bandwidth-hungry video games, augmented and virtual reality technologies will be seamless, offering a more immersive experience.
A 5G network will be able to support the increasing number of connected devices around the world, from fitness-tracking watches to internet-linked television and computer systems that run a city’s traffic lights.
How soon will 5G be rolled out?
The first commercial 5G networks should start coming online from 2020, according to the International Telecommunications Union.
Many mobile network operators are conducting 5G trials in cities from Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and Yinchuan in northwestern China to San Francisco in the United States and Frankfurt in Germany.
Will the roads be filled with self-driving cars once 5G is rolled out?
Autonomous cars and other mobility services require more support infrastructure than your smartphone.
Self-driving cars require sensors, artificial intelligence and roadside base stations for connectivity to allow vehicles to “talk” to each other and avoid collisions or hit pedestrians.
These equipment may need to be deployed at the street level on lamp posts or traffic lights.
When can I buy 5G smartphones?
One of the first 5G smartphones is expected to be launched in the second half of this year by Huawei, China’s biggest smartphone brand.
The release of a range of 5G smartphones that can also work on existing 4G networks is widely expected later next year, after the standards are set and spectrum is allocated.
About 1 billion people globally are likely to use 5G mobile services within five years, leading to US$12.3 trillion in worldwide economic output by the mid-2030s, according to estimates from Ericsson and IHS Markit.