South Korea has become the first country in the world to commercially launch 5G networks, beating US and China who are also in the making of this technology. Soon after the launch of the service on early Wednesday the three top telecom providers of South Korea – SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus began the 5G service. This new wireless technology will now be available in the Samsung Electronics Galaxy S10. SK Telecom appears to have the most extensive commercial deployment in South Korea to date with the services now available in 13 cities and counties throughout South Korea. Out of these three telecom giants, SK Telecom has tended to maintain the lead in the race, successfully acquiring all the essential components for 5G commercialization using 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz frequencies and benefitting from a close collaboration with Samsung.
According to experts, this 5G service will bring smartphones near instantaneous connectivity 20 times faster than 4G, allowing users to download entire movies in less than a second. The South Korean auto parts manufacturer Myunghwa Industry is first 5G client. It also said test drives of 5G self-driving cars have begun on public roads.
The technology is crucial for the future development of devices such as self-driving vehicles and is expected to bring about $565 billion in global economic benefits by 2034, according to the London-based Global System for Mobile Communications, an industry alliance.
The 5G is going to change the landscape of the gaming industry as it allows games streamed with minimal delay to be played on smartphones. The technology can offer 20-times faster data speeds than 4G long-term evolution (LTE) networks and better support for artificial intelligence and virtual reality with low latency. The operator expects about 1 million 5G customers by the end of 2019. Out its 37 million users, more than 3 million are expected to switch to 5G by year end.
Samsung was the first to unwrap a 5G phone in February when it unveiled the Galaxy S10 5G, a $2,000 smartphone. South Korea, which boasts one of the world’s highest mobile penetration rates, is in a race with China, the US and Japan to market 5G services, pinning high hopes on the new technology to drive growth in the IT sector. As 4G spawned new applications such as Uber and Instagram, 5G heralds a new level of high-speed connectivity that will enable AI or Internet of Things services that require faster data speeds.
The “G” stands for Generation, as in the next generation of wireless technologies. Each generation is supposedly faster, more secure and more reliable. 1G was not used to identify wireless technology until 2G was released. It was a giant leap in the technology when the wireless networks were converted to digital from analog. The 3G offered faster data transfer speeds i.e. 200 kilobits per second, for multimedia use and was a long time standard for wireless transmissions. A 4G connection promises 1Gigabit per second transfer rate. 4G LTE comes very close to closing this gap. These standards themselves are quite confusing but the advertisers sure know how to manipulate them.
1G– A term never widely used until 2G was available. This was the first generation of cell phone technology. Simple phone calls were all it was able to do.
2G– The second generation of cell phone transmission, having new features like simple text messaging.
3G– This generation set the standards for wireless technology. Web browsing, email, video downloading, picture sharing etc. 3G should be capable of handling around 2 Megabits per second.
4G– The fourth generation needs to be at least 100 Megabits per second and up to 1 Gigabit per second. It also shares the network resources to support more simultaneous connections on the cell. As it develops, 4G could surpass the speed of the average wireless broadband home Internet connection. However, 4G is not the same as 4G LTE which is very close to meeting the criteria of the standards.
4G LTE– Long Term Evolution. It is a version of 4G that is the latest advertised technology which is getting very close to the speeds needed as the standards are set. Then there is XLTE which is a bandwidth charger with a minimum of double the bandwidth of 4G LTE.
5G– The fifth generation is expected to be faster. It is bit sketchy at this point but the speeds are supposed to be upwards of 1 to 20Gbps compare to the 4G standards which are 100Mbps up to 1Gbps.
Some of the projected 5G standards are:
- 1-20Gbps connections to end points in the field
- Peak download data rate of 20 Gbit/s
- Peak upload data rate of 10 Gbit/s
- 1 millisecond end-to-end round trip delay
- 1000x bandwidth per unit area
- — 10-100x number of connected devices
- 99.999% availability
- 100% coverage
- 90% reduction in network energy usage
- Up to ten year battery life for low power, machine-type devices
Availability of more bandwidth is one of the biggest advantage of 5G. The users would be able to browse the web, download files, and even stream video at blistering speeds. With increased bandwidth, users would be able to use more of it without crowding out other users. With more of the network dedicated to each individual smart device, smart devices will be able to run faster than ever before.
However every picture has a dark side. One of the key advantages of 3G cell towers was that they could cover immense territory with relatively few cells. This is because the network did not require as much bandwidth, meaning networks had to deploy fewer cells. When technology progressed to 4G networks, the cells were producing more bandwidth, meaning the coverage radius of each cell was smaller. This trend will continue to 5G network. More cell towers will be required to produce this immense bandwidth because the cells are not able to cover as much space as a 3G or 4G cell.
Radios, cell towers, and even satellites communicate using radio frequencies. The 5G network is going to transmit its data in the range of around 6 GHz. This radio frequency range is already crowded by other signals, such as satellite links. With numerous types of signals operating in the range of 6 GHz, overcrowding is going to pose a problem as people try to transmit their data signals at this frequency.
As per the research reports on 5G technology, that smart devices operating on a 5G network may be able to operate at speeds that are thousands of times faster than on a 4G network. This means that the tasks that could only be performed on a laptop could be performed on these smart device. As network speeds have increased, the tasks being performed by the computers would now be done on smart devices. This could create new avenues for smart device technology. Now, the question is how the network anticipate on exploiting on its features while protecting the users from its shortcomings that would eventually determine the success.
[box type=”note” align=”” class=”” width=””]The writer is a freelance columnist and an academician by profession. He could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org[/box]