With continually increasing mobile use, the demand for mobile data is outweighing the traditional calls and texts that dominated the airwaves half a century ago. Since the first 1G system was introduced in 1981, mobile connections have soared into the billions, with a new mobile generation appearing an average of every 10th year.
Now 5G technology is taking the forefront; but where will it take us?
The ever increasing need for speed comes from today’s generation of smart devices. The plethora of smartphones, tablets and increasingly wearable technology, allow users to carry out an immeasurable number of “data fuelled” tasks from watching movies to conferencing on the go.
While the general consensus is that 4G is still a relatively new technology, consumer expectation for fast mobile internet speeds has already sparked an increasingly heated discussion in regards to the next generation of mobile network.
“The rollout of any new generation of mobile network is never as simple as flicking a switch.”
5G technology research and development has started with an aim for possible networks available in 2020 or beyond.
Standards bodies have not yet defined 5G requirements, but various groups are discussing the possibilities of what might constitute 5G for network deployments, including such concepts and capabilities as:
Although 5G technology research and development is in its infancy, to achieve the 10 Gbps or higher throughput rates envisioned for 5G will require radio carriers of at least 1 GHz, bandwidths available only at frequencies above 5 GHz.
Higher frequencies are well suited for ultra-dense small-cell deployments, but longer propagation is also possible using antenna arrays and beamforming.
If 5G technology is to deliver, it needs to utilize the available spectrum effectively and more cell sites are going to have to be placed in more strategic locations.
The development of new devices that can perform tasks currently unimaginable to most of us will be as central to defining what 5G technology is, as the ecosystem that will have to be built to support it.
A 5G network will take on a complexity never seen before. The sheer volume of devices that will access it, as well as the swathes of data being sent back and forth, will be far too much to handle manually.
There are also environmental concerns that need to be considered, power consumption being one of the main topics on the agenda nowadays. Like the journeys to 3G and 4G, the RF path will be critical in the arrival of 5G, as will be the need for a high Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) to ensure a robust data service.
This ratio has become increasingly important in the last decade, and the appetite for mobile data shows no signs of lessening. It will be the ability to master this (RF) route, over and above the barriers, complexities and increasingly overcrowded airspaces that will ultimately play the greatest role in the development and definition of 5G technology globally.