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Our 5G future - faster, more connected, but still years away


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Our 5G future - faster, more connected, but still years away

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Even though it does not even exist yet as a working system, 5G is this year’s hot topic at the Mobile World Congress technology show in Barcelona.

It is the next generation wireless network for smartphones and connected gadgets, due to be rolled out over the next few years to give faster download speeds and revolutionise our everyday technology:

Matt Branda, Director of 5G Technical Marketing with Qualcomm, told Euronews: “5G is not just going to be about faster speeds, but it is going to let mobile networks connect to a whole range of industries, devices and services. Not only is it going to connect people to each other but also connect the world around us. So whether it’s vehicles, drones, healthcare – they are all going to be connected by this 5G network.”

Lower latency

Speed of data transmissions is the crucial element – delays are known in the technology world as latency.

Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, Chief Technology Officer with Deutsche Telekom, explained to Euronews: “5G is about latency, managing latency, we can promise just 25 or 10 milliseconds. Second: ultra-high broadband, 10 gigabits per second, and the last factor is having massive Internet of Things, what means billions of senders.”

Tech experts predict it will allow for developments like virtual reality experiences that are much closer to real time and even artificial intelligence, though in the future hyper-connected world the hope is humans will still be in charge.

Remote surgery

Roger Cheng, executive editor of the CNET magazine and website, explained: “We are talking about real time connection. The best example someone has given to me is a surgeon performing a surgery in one country with robotic hands in another country.”

An installation at Mobile World Congress is showing just that.

One person is wearing a 5G connected glove in one room, controlling a robot in the next room that is performing simulated surgery.

With a 4G network or a broadband network, the delay would be too long for something like this to be possible. With 5G it might become reality.

No industry standard

At the Mobile World Congress, different versions of 5G are being demonstrated. That is because the industry has yet to agree on a standard. When it does the new system will have to be fully tested. The existing network of antennas will have to be amended or rebuilt to make it 5G compatible.

After that 4G devices, like your current phone, will have to be replaced as they will not work on the 5G network.

Christian Hedelin, head of strategy for communications company Ericsson, thinks it will be several years before the first customers will start using a 5G network.

“We will, of course, try to build a 5G system so that can leverage the benefits on 4G. Hence we work towards being able to re-use most of the installations that have already been done for 3G and 4G deployments,” he says.

“But there will also have to be new sites needed. Of course. Because with some of these high-frequency bands you need to get closer to the end user and the households that are using 5G.”

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