22 October 2019
Fifth-generation networking is here, with the launch in 19 major cities across the UK in 2019 and due to be available to consumers on a wider scale by the end of 2020. In this article, we take a look at the key differences between 4G and 5G.
Did you know 4G launched in the UK in 2013? That was over 6 years ago!
When fourth generation mobile connectivity was introduced, it was the successor to 3G. With mobile speeds up to 500 times faster than 3G, 4G allows support for HD TV via your phone not to mention high quality video calls, fast mobile browsing, and even running a small construction office from it.
6 years is a long time for anything in the technological world and 4G is now common throughout the world, but this is about to change. The Internet of Things is now a real possibility and 4G will not handle the volume of connections with an approximate 20 billion connected devices by 2020 so we need a new successor, 5G.
5G is a new digital system for transforming bytes – data units – over air. It uses a 5G New Radio interface, along with other new technologies, that utilises much higher radio frequencies (28 ghz compared to 700 mhz – 2500 mhz for 4G) to transfer exponentially more data over the air for faster speeds, reduced congestion and lower latency
This new generation is creating hype, trials in major cities are realising the capabilities of this new network with demonstrations of autonomous vehicles, 360˚ Video with VR, and 4k surveillance. To put it simply, 5G is smarter, faster and more efficient than 4G.
In general, 5G will operate in a similar way as previous generations of cellular networks did, relying on a large number of cell towers joined and creating areas for coverage using radio waves, however using advanced technologies to really enhance this mobile networking technology.
This new generation uses a higher frequency of radio waves than 4G, thus leveraging a higher number of devices per meter than 4G. With 4G supporting about 4,000 devices per square kilometre, whereas 5G will support around one million. This means more Netflix streaming, voice calls and You Tube carried, without interruption, over the limited air space.
Current mobile network technologies operate like floodlights, illuminating an area but with a lot of wastage of the light/signal. 5G uses a new technology called Massive MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) which uses multiple targeted beams to follow users around a cell site – this improves coverage, speed and capacity.
To put things into perspective, we take a look at the most recent mobile technologies side by side in the table below.
Overall, 5G is well on its way and is set to be the catalyst for connecting humans and machines for new business and economic opportunities. A real time, fast and reliable mobile network enables the industry to cut loose from the restrictions that come with fixed line – avoiding long installation times and providing more flexible options, increasing productivity and reducing costs.
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