Telecommunication technologies have grown in leaps and bounds in the last few years. Gone are the days of outdated wired technologies that supply us with our link to the internet, it’s all about the wireless connection in the modern day telecommunications industry.
It was just the other day that 4G LTE technology was being introduced, but now there is a new entrant in the game, due to the large number of devices that are making their way to the cloud.
The research group Gartner, estimates that the world will see 20.8 billion connected devices by 2020. Investment into the Internet of Things is growing at a steady rate. The current level of the telecommunications industry is unable to facilitate that many connections worldwide.
A whole new spectrum is necessary to house the billions of connected devices the world is about to see. That is where 5G comes in. 5G will be interconnecting the myriad devices in the advancing fourth industrial revolution.
Engineers are looking to improve signal quality with 5G, amongst other things. Companies in the United States and China, however, are all trying to outdo each other and be the first to bring the elusive technologies into cities.
The 5G Race
T-Mobile is racing to be the first carrier to provide 5G in the United States, placing a sizeable $8 billion bid in to buy spectrum from the Federal Communications Commission (5G). They hope to have the 5G network fully operational by 2020.
China’s spending on 5G infrastructure will amount to $180 billion, making it the biggest investment into telecommunications technology in the world. According to the South China Morning Post, the country will spend 50% more, with the current estimate, than they did with 4G LTE technologies.
The Chinese mainland is expected to have 588.3 million users by 2020. That will be just less than half of the nation’s mobile users in 2020.
It is reported that the major Chinese internet companies, such as Baidu, Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, are all leading the way to a future 5G internet connection that would grapple with 8K video streaming, as well as augmented and virtual reality technologies.
It will also pave the way for an efficiently run smart city that generates data and analytics about key infrastructure such as water and electricity metering.
Korea and Japan are reportedly also encouraging their engineers to get 5G networks up and running for the 2018 Winter Olympics and the 2020 Summer Olympics. However, for now, the pronouncements of would could be outweigh the showcasing of technologies.
The Need for Standardization
The public relations’ hype, from the various companies wanting to throw their hats in the ring, has distracted the public from the actual work that has to be done by the telecommunication engineers. The current standard set for 2020, for 5G technologies, by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is IMT-2020. The hope is that all countries might work towards one common goal with 5G, with standards that can be globally adhered to.
ITU’s reports detail some of the most important focuses of 5G technology in the near future. The report, Selected Applications/Use Cases by Industry for ITU-R International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) – 3G, 4G & 5G, reveals some of the more immediate uses for 5G once the technology has been sufficiently developed. The two main focuses are:
- Intelligent Transport Systems: Automated Driving, Collision Avoidance, Railways or High Speed Train Communication, Public Transportation, Location-Based Services, and Logistics in Transportation.
- Utilities - smart electricity grids, water management, gas metering.
5G has the ability to transform the world we live in today, however, the engineering community needs to congregate and innovate under the umbrella of the standards that are being produced by ITU and 3GPP. The complexities of implementing a 5G network will soon make themselves known as the continued development of the 5G spectrums and technologies progress.
"China to Build World's Largest 5G Mobile Network for US$180 Billion." South China Morning Post. 12 June 2017. Web. 13 June 2017.
Santo, Brian. "Struggling towards 5G." EDN. Web. 13 June 2017.