The fifth mobile generation (short: 5G) is about to start. Many talk about it and yet more are wondering what it brings.

The advantages of 5G

Enormous speed: For the vast majority of users, the currently available bandwidth of LTE, the fourth mobile generation (4G), with a maximum of 1200 MBit/s will be sufficient. 5G increases that many times over. For comparison, the then offered maximum of 20 GBit/s is twice as much as medium-sized universities (such as the Alpen Adria University Klagenfurt) have available.

This network capacity is mainly due to a much broader frequency spectrum possible. However, the transmitting stations must also be able to transport the enormous amounts of data back and forth. The stations need generous connections to the Internet.

Short network latency: While high bandwidths are only noticeable when downloading huge files, short latencies add significantly to the subjective speed. With 5G, the mobile Internet should be really responsive.

Latency can be observed: It may take a good 1.5 seconds for voice assistant Alexa to turn on a Philips Hue light bulb. Responsible for this are many different Internet connections with various qualities across the globe.

Specified at 5G is a latency of less than a millisecond (<1ms) – a dream for any tech enthusiast. However, this latency exists only for the first hop on the transmitter. After that, a large number of connections to the desired servers increase the latency. The bottleneck continues to determine the overall quality.

Real-time transmissions should be possible over specially configured networks. The talk here is less of live football matches than of surgeries, where doctor and patient are separated across continents.

The energy consumption per transmitted byte should be reduced by up to 90 percent.

5G was explicitly developed for machine-to-machine communication. There is enough capacity to support a million (106) devices per square-kilometer.

Finally, there is also a literal speed limit for wireless technologies to which a transfer and the handover from one transmitter to the next is still possible. At 5G you can also move at 500 km/h and get the full power.

Availability of 5G

The first 5G phones will be available soon but at a huge price. They will get affordable at the end of 2019 and will eventually get cheaper and cheaper.

The first base stations are already out on 5G, but this is only one side of the medallion. High bandwidth and low latency require more base stations to cover smaller areas. Thus, we won’t see fast roll-outs of 5G except where many people are living – big cities will be the first to be covered. In rural areas, the wait will be longer.

Titelbild: Adobe Stock/sdecoret