Many of us don’t even have access to the 4G mobile network yet, but already the race is on to develop 5G. With demand for mobile data doubling each year, this fifth generation technology will soon be required to satisfy our ever-increasing need to browse the web and stream online content on our mobile devices. It will also be needed to connect the technology of the future, such as driverless cars, smart cities and the ‘Internet of Things’ – a network of everyday objects that communicate with each other to make our lives easier.
Although some parts of the world are expected to have 5G as early as 2018, the technology behind it hasn’t actually been fully fi gured out yet. Some companies are looking to build on existing technologies, simply making 4G radio frequencies faster. Others believe the entire radio network will need to be restructured. For example, one promising concept for 5G involves using high frequency millimetre-waves and a series of base stations connected to buildings and lampposts.
What we do know is that 5G will be incredibly fast. It’s expected to be about 100 times faster than 4G, allowing you to download an entire film in under a second. Latency – the time it takes for data to start transferring – will be greatly reduced, meaning the video you want to stream will start instantly when you press play. 5G will also have a much larger capacity, enabling more users to access the network at once and potentially bringing an end to those restrictive data limits imposed my mobile operators.
Of course, your current mobile phone is unlikely to work with any future 5G network, as it will probably need new hardware and software to support it. However, by the time 5G becomes available, you will probably have upgraded your handset anyway and manufacturers are guaranteed to kit out their newer models with the most up-to-date technology.
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