July 1, 2014
Your grandfather probably remembers a time when men’s razors had just one blade. It was sharp and it got the job done…but with some scrapes and cuts along the way. Saturday Night Live famously mocked the addition of more razors saying “the 6th blade gently removes the 1stlayer of skin.” But all mocking aside, this is the age of more. In a world of innovation from analog to digital to 3G and to 4G, the next logical progression is a 5G network. Innovation, however, does not always care about logic or what makes sense. It made sense for Apple to develop their own mapping applications right? The buzz surrounding a 5G mobile network is real, but the question is, is it something to get excited about?
Unlike the addition of another blade to the razor (which lacks mystique), there is definitely some mystery surrounding 5G and the function it will serve the connected world. There will soon be a shortage of space for the growing demand of data through mobile networks. 5G can help solve the dilemma of too much data and not enough space.
The Internet of Things, or connectivity of smart devices, is increasing our data usage exponentially. Soon, your phone will speak to your dryer, your thermostat (if it doesn’t already) and your vehicle. This requires additional speed and power, which will presumably be coming from the next generation of wireless technology.
Although the term 5G, or 5th generation mobile networks, often refers to mobile communication beyond 2020, some tech companies are choosing to ignore the prescribed timeline. According to an article by Sue Marek, Alex Jinsong of SK Telecom is planning to launch their 5G technology at the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang… and that’s about all we know about it at this point. Although having a slight first-mover advantage, the first big name to launch 5G will also need to have some fire-power to back up the opening ceremony – there will be a lot of people there and undoubtedly they’ll want to use their devices to share every minute of it.
The success of 5G as a whole depends on the ability of private companies and public leaders to band together for the sake of standardization. At this point though, there are some questions on everyone’s mind. Since 4G is still growing in usage, what is the immediate need for 5G? Another question to ask with the looming 5G technology is are we as consumers ready? In 2013, there were 1.6 billion 3G/4G connections in the world, according to Gigaom, with another 41 million monthly additions. People generally love the speed and performance of a 4G connection, so the outlook is good if a 5G network can wow them even more.
Adapt or die might be a harsh statement, but some of the features of 5G will leave 4G users feeling unsatisfied and wanting more. For example, according to the iet.com, the new mobile generation will be better performing and provided at a lower cost. The rare relationship between decrease in cost and increase in data demand is one of the reasons consumers will welcome the change. The good news here is that 5G will not be reserved for those with significant disposable income.
In a previous post, we mentioned small cell technology and did so without mentioning too much about 5G. However 5G fits in nicely with this innovation. The small cells in densely populated areas will relieve the strain on the data network almost like siphoning off users in one area to improve quality and speed to all other users outside the area.
The idea of a 5g network is an exciting prospect because it can be used on a converged fiber-wireless network using internet access. The service could be used at coffee shops, shopping malls, and other places that provide wireless connections and be able to automatically switch with the mobile service. There’s a lot happening with the evolution of wireless, and the notion of offloading mobile users in a densely populated network will improve the experience for everyone. 5G networks could be the next big thing – and users would most definitely benefit from it.