Most of us are still pretty happy with the fast 4G connection on our cellphones. But of course, it’s never fast enough and preparations are well underway for the next generation of wireless connectivity: 5G. Samsung just completed a test where they managed to achieve speeds of up to 1.7 Gigabits per second. That’s even more impressive because they did so on board a train speeding through Japan.
So, how did they do this and what is 5G? In fact, 5G is not just a faster version of 4G. It’s a range of technologies, not only aimed at faster speeds, but also at connecting more and more devices to the Internet of Things. Think of self driving cars that don’t have to send lots of data, but have to respond quickly to conditions on the road, making a low latency connection a must. Or think of a a sensor in your street, monitoring and transmitting the local air quality. You don’t want to be changing the batteries frequently, so low power consumption would be an important requirement.
In other words, 5G is not just faster browsing on your cellphone. The technology could develop into a serious competitor to a variety of ways we now connect devices wirelessly: not just 3/4G, but also WiFi, Bluetooth, Long Range Radio or Zigbee.
To accomplish all that, 5G will need to make use of new parts of the frequency spectrum, sometimes even using multiple frequencies at once to manage high speeds. That’s also one of the reasons it may still take a few years before we’ll be able to benefit from all that’s promised. Not only does the technology need to mature, but also governments need to approve (or auction) the rights to use the required parts of the frequency spectrum.