Today we enjoy the benefits of on-the-go mobile data thanks to 4G wireless technology. 4G comes equipped with an alphabet soup of features like multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), further enhanced intercell interference coordination (FeICIC), co-ordinated multipoint (CoMP), beamforming, enhanced multimedia broadcast multicast system (eMBMS), license assisted access (LAA), higher order modulation with 256QAM, carrier aggregation (CA), dual connectivity (DC) and many more all supported in frequency and time division duplex (FDD and TDD) bands.
But all that is a prologue to the rollout of the fifth generation of wireless technology, better known as 5G. Obviously, 5G should be better than its predecessor, right? But how? This blog describes eight aspects that 5G will outperform 4G.
■ Peak data rate. Reaching up to 1 gigabits per second (Gbps), 4G’s peak data rate is satisfactory for most of today’s apps. But 4G won’t be sufficient to support the growing number of wireless devices being introduced into wireless networks every day—thanks in large part to the growth of Internet of Things (IoT)—and the number of applications requiring real-time high-throughput data. With a peak data rate of up to 20 Gbps, 5G will be able to handle these new apps without breaking a sweat.
■ User-experienced data rate. The data rate that the end user experiences in 4G can be up to 10 Megabits per second (Mbps), which is sufficient for most of today’s applications. But as IoT and mobile devices advance, users will require faster throughput. With speeds of up to 100 Mbps, 5G will give them the boost they need.
■ Spectrum efficiency. If you want to optimize a system, you need to utilize its available resources as efficiently as possible. Keeping that in mind, 5G cells will be able to utilize the available spectrum three times more efficiently than 4G cells.
■ Mobility. Today, 4G can support mobility of up to 350 kilometres per hour (kph). As the technology advances and magnetic levitation high-speed trains become more common, 5G will break through this speed barrier by supporting mobile devices traveling up to 500 kph.
■ Latency. Autonomous vehicles and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication in a vehicular ad hoc network (VANET) are still a few years from commercialization, despite many of the foundational technologies being well developed and tested. One major part of it is data latency. The latency for VANET needs to be less than 100 milliseconds. Today, latency in 4G cells is up to 100 milliseconds for the control plane and 10 milliseconds for the data plane. Combined, this is too slow to support VANET as any small delay in V2V communication could cause a traffic incident or worse. 5G solves the latency issue by decreasing control-plane latency by 50% and data-plane latency by 90%, which is 50 milliseconds and 1 millisecond, respectively.
■ Connection density. As the IoT market accelerates, many more devices will be connected to cells. 5G allows up to 900,000 more devices to be connected per square kilometre than 4G, which supports the connection of at most 100,000 devices per square kilometre.
■ Network energy efficiency. The 5G network will be 100 times more energy efficient than 4G. So even as the number of wireless devices increases, the energy required to power them will decline. This means the carbon footprint of wireless communication networks globally will also decline or at least not increase proportionate to the number of devices increases.
■ Area traffic capacity. As the number of networked devices increases, 5G will have the capacity to manage the increase in network throughput. That’s because the expected area traffic capacity—defined as the end user data rate measured in megabits per second per square meter—of 5G networks will be 100 times higher than existing 4G networks.
Bringing It All Together
5G is the future of wireless technology and significantly more advanced and optimized than 4G in many key aspects. 5G has been designed to meet the demands of future network devices and can connect significantly greater number of devices than 4G. It has the faster network response time, consumes less power, utilizes the available spectrum better, enhances mobility and increases the throughput of end-user application data.
Taken together, 5G will let us enjoy a wider range of advancements and new applications in the coming years.