What do we really know about 5G?

What do we really know about 5G?

As presented in our last article, telecom networks never stopped evolving over the last few years and so are the data transfer rates. Despite 4G is quite new and currently being deployed in many countries of the world, telecom experts have already started talking about and experimenting 5G.

Several information and rumors circulated here and there about 5G, but what do we really know nowadays about the 5G? When will it be available? Will it really be gainful for users?

Background of the 5G standard development

As for its predecessors, 5G stands for the 5th generation of telecom mobile networks. The development of 5G standards is still in its infancy and, knowing that standards achievement of the last 4G network has taken about 10 years, telecom experts are expecting the first 5G networks to start being deployed from 2020 onwards.

Several organizations are racing to develop the 5G standard like the 5GPPP, ITU and NGMN but ITU is probably playing the most important role by having established the timeline, known as IMT-2020, for the development of the 5G standardization. This planning is expected to start on 2016 and to having the standard agreement completed by 2020. Seemingly, the other two organizations involved (5GPPP and NGMN) chose to stick to the ITU schedule.

Expected characteristics of 5G network

According to telecom experts, 5G technology should allow a data transfer rate of several gigabits per second, 100 times faster than 4G. These are theoretical rates which can greatly vary depending on several factors such as the distance to a telecommunications terminal or if one person is in motion or not.

Issues and challenges of 5G

The 5th generation of mobile networks must deal with several problems such as obtaining permissions to use specific radio wave ranges, covering a large territory and renewing the existing telecom facilities (already deployed for 2G, 3G and 4G) which can be expensive and discouraging for telecom operators.

Moreover, 5G will have to face many challenges as the generalization of internet use to connected objects leading to the notion of Internet of Things (IoT) and, more recently, the Internet of Everything (IoE) notion promoted by a report of Cisco, one of the world leaders in network infrastructure, that includes not only IoT, but also data, processes… and people themselves (via their smartphones and their social networks).

Telecom evolution: 2G, 3G and 4G network differences

Telecom evolution: 2G, 3G and 4G network differences

Over the last decades, telecom technologies have evolved in such a quick way that it becomes really hard for common people to understand the meanings behind current nomenclatures like 2G, 3G and 4G.

What do all these terminologies stand for? What are the main differences between telecom generations?

Differences between 2G, 3G and 4G networks

  • 2G network and its evolution (2,5G and 2,75G)

Commercially launched in 1991, 2G network refers to the 2nd generation of telecom networks based on the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standard. It is the first network to use digital signals (compared to the analog signals used by 1G) allowing voice calls and a transfer speed up to only some kbps.

In the early 2000s, 2G evolved into 2,5G (called so because it is halfway between 2G and 3G) and is also known as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service). With a data transmission rate up to 54kbps, the 2,5G network is faster than the former 2G and enables more data services such as text messages (SMS), picture messages and MMS (Multi Media Message).

As the last evolution of the 2G technology, the 2,75G network is also referred to as EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) and was first deployed in 2003 in the United States by AT&T. EDGE network improved data transfer speed with a theoretical speed up to 384 kbps.

  • 3G network and its evolution (3G+ and H+)

The 3rd generation of telecom standards, known as UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System), naturally led to the 3G network denomination. With this new technology, data transmission speed increased to reach almost 1.9mbps, nearly 5 times faster than the former generation.

3G technology brought on a revolution in the cellular phone sector with the creation of “smartphones”. It went even further inspiring the name of one of the most famous cellular phones by that time: iPhone 3G from Apple. In a way, this smartphone also contributed to the success of the 3G network.

Called HSDPA, the 3G+ network is the first evolution of 3G with a transfer rate increasing to 14,4mbps which is 7 times faster than the initial 3G and becomes very competitive even compared to the classical wired connections like DSL.

The second evolution of 3G is the H+ network also referred to by a lot of people as Dual Carrier or HSPA+. Again, the speed of transfer increased reaching 42 mbps which is close to 4G transfer rates.

  • 4G network

This 4th generation of telecom networks allows a transfer rate that ranges from 100mbps to 1gbps, thus clearly offering an ultra broadband.

Also known as LTE (Long Term Evolution), the 4G network is the most up to date technology being currently used in the telecom sector and its development will be a big challenge over the next 10 years for telecom carriers, until the probable emergence of the 5G planned as of 2020.