Video: Everything you need to know about 5G Network
5G is the fifth generation cellular network technology. The industry association 3GPP defines any system using “5G NR” (5G New Radio) software as “5G”, a definition that came into general use by late 2018. Others may reserve the term for systems that meet the requirements of the ITU IMT-2020. 3GPP will submit their 5G NR to the ITU. It follows 2G, 3G and 4G and their respective associated technologies (such as GSM, UMTS, LTE, LTE Advanced Pro and others).
5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into small geographical areas called cells. Analog signals representing sounds and images are digitized in the phone, converted by an analog to digital converter and transmitted as a stream of bits.
All the 5G wireless devices in a cell communicate by radio waves with a local antenna array and low power automated transceiver (transmitter and receiver) in the cell, over frequency channels assigned by the transceiver from a common pool of frequencies, which are reused in geographically separated cells. The local antennas are connected with the telephone network and the Internet by a high bandwidth optical fiber or wireless backhaul connection.
Like existing cellphones, when a user crosses from one cell to another, their mobile device is automatically “handed off” seamlessly to the antenna in the new cell.
There are plans to use millimeter waves for 5G. Millimeter waves have shorter range than microwaves, therefore the cells are limited to smaller size; The waves also have trouble passing through building walls.
Millimeter wave antennas are smaller than the large antennas used in previous cellular networks. They are only a few inches (several centimeters) long. Another technique used for increasing the data rate is massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output).
Each cell will have multiple antennas communicating with the wireless device, received by multiple antennas in the device, thus multiple bitstreams of data will be transmitted simultaneously, in parallel. In a technique called beamforming the base station computer will continuously calculate the best route for radio waves to reach each wireless device, and will organize multiple antennas to work together as phased arrays to create beams of millimeter waves to reach the device.
The new 5G wireless devices also have 4G LTE capability, as the new networks use 4G for initially establishing the connection with the cell, as well as in locations where 5G access is not available.
5G can support up to a million devices per square kilometer, while 4G supports only up to 100,000 devices per square kilometer
What is 5G?
5G networks are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices than ever before.
Combining cutting-edge network technology and the very latest research, 5G should offer connections that are multitudes faster than current connections, with average download speeds of around 1GBps expected to soon be the norm.
The networks will help power a huge rise in Internet of Things technology, providing the infrastructure needed to carry huge amounts of data, allowing for a smarter and more connected world.
5G networks are already starting to appear and are expected to launch across the world by 2020, working alongside existing 3G and 4G technology to provide speedier connections that stay online no matter where you are.
What 5G phones are available?
A number of 5G phone announcements have been made in 2019, however only a handful are currently available, and the choice is further limited by country and carrier.
In the US, Motorola’s 5G Moto Mod provides next-generation connectivity to a select few Moto Z handsets, plus the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is also available.
For those in the UK, you can currently get hold of six 5G phones; the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Oppo Reno 5G, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, and the LG V50 ThinQ 5G. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G is also available for pre-order at the time of writing.
In Australia, only three 5G smartphones are available, and only two of these are available outright. The Oppo Reno 5G and the LG V50 ThinQ 5G can be be purchased for AU$1,499 and AU$1,729 respectively, while you’ll need to look for a plan with Telstra in order to score the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
How fast is 5G?
5G NR speed in sub-6 GHz bands can be slightly higher than the 4G with a similar amount of spectrum and antennas, though some 3GPP 5G networks will be slower than some advanced 4G networks, such as T-Mobile’s LTE/LAA network, which achieves 500+ Mbit/s in Manhattan and Chicago.
The 5G specification allows LAA (License Assisted Access) as well but LAA in 5G has not yet been demonstrated. Adding LAA to an existing 4G configuration can add hundreds of megabits per second to the speed, but this is an extension of 4G, not a new part of the 5G standard
5G speeds will vary between locations, countries, carriers and devices, but on the whole the average internet speed you can expect should be much greater than what’s currently offered on 4G.
We’ve been testing the first 5G networks in the US, UK, and Australia, and have found speeds to be a little bit of a mixed bag.
Speeds in the less common millimeter wave spectrum can be substantially higher.
When will 5G launch?
In the US
Verizon surprised most of the world by launching its 5G network at the start of April 2019, making it the first globally to offer the next-generation network.
It’s currently only available in limited parts of Chicago and a few other locations, and there are just two handsets currently available to use on the new 5G network.
In Chicago, US we’ve managed to obtain speeds of up to 1.4Gbps, which is massively faster than 4G’s theoretical top speed of 300Mbps (although average speeds tend to be below 100Mbps).
However, 5G coverage is patchy and we had to move around the city’s various 5G masts to get this top speed. We did tend to get around 1Gbps quite consistently though.
5G in London, UK is more of a mixed bag, with speeds in our test ranging from 200Mbps to 550Mbps – still much quicker than 4G, but not the same level as we are seeing in Chicago.
AT&T has rolled out its 5G network to 19 cities across the States, but it still doesn’t offer any 5G phones – with your only option for now a 5G Netgear Nitehawk mobile hotspot.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile is yet to launch its 5G network in the US, but it previously said it would bring 5G to 30 cities, starting in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Las Vegas.
In the UK
EE was the first UK carrier to launch its 5G network, switching it on in six cities on May 30 2019. It has promised to bring 5G to 10 further cities by the end of 2019.
It was followed by Vodafone on July 3, 2019, when it launched 5G in seven cities, rolling out to a further eight towns and cities on July 17.
Next up was Three, which launched a 5G service in London on August 19, however, there’s a catch – it’s initially only available for home broadband. However, it will be coming to mobile later this year, as well as to 24 more towns and cities.
O2 meanwhile is the only major UK network not to have any sort of 5G service yet, but it plans to roll 5G out in October.
Telstra’s 5G coverage went live as of May, 2019, with the launch of the first 5G smartphone in Australia – the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
At the time, coverage was limited to 10 major cities and regions and, within those regions, was somewhat limited and patchy. This includes Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Toowoomba.
The rollout continues, however, and coverage is steadily increasing. For a detailed and up-to-date map on coverage across Australia, check out Telstra’s dedicated 5G page.
Optus, on the other hand, hasn’t released any concrete timelines or roadmaps, although its official website does mention that it aims to have 1,200 5G sites built by March 2020, which could indicate a date for public availability.
Video: Everything you need to know about 5G
What CNET About 5G Network
We downloaded about 10 hours of video in under 5 minutes and sped past 1Gbps download speeds in our downtown Chicago field tests. This was a night-and-day experience compared with our first tests six weeks ago, what the below video.
What is 5G really For?
Most of the real-world 5G demos we’ve seen just involve people downloading Netflix very quickly on their phones. That kind of usage is just table stakes, just to get the networks built so more interesting applications can develop in the future.
5G home internet shows one major advantage over 4G: huge capacity. Carriers can’t offer competitively priced 4G home internet because there just isn’t enough capacity on 4G cell sites for the 190GB of monthly usage most homes now expect. This could really increase home internet competition in the US, where, according to a 2016 FCC report, 51 percent of Americans only have one option for 25Mbps or higher home internet service. For its part, Verizon says its 5G service will be truly unlimited.
5G home internet is also much easier for carriers to roll out than house-by-house fiber optic lines. Rather than digging up every street, carriers just have to install fiber optics to a cell site every few blocks, and then give customers wireless modems. Verizon chief network officer Nicki Palmer said the home internet service would eventually be offered wherever Verizon has 5G wireless, which will give it much broader coverage than the carrier’s fiber optic FiOS service.
On a trip to Oulu, Finland, where there’s a 5G development center, we attended a 5G hackathon. The top ideas included a game streaming service; a way to do stroke rehab through VR; smart bandages that track your healing; and a way for parents to interact with babies who are stuck in incubators. All of these ideas need either the high bandwidth, low latency, or low-power-low-cost aspects of 5G.
Last year, we surveyed the 5G startups that Verizon is nurturing in New York. At the carrier’s Open Innovation Lab, we saw high-resolution wireless surveillance cameras, game streaming, and virtual reality physical therapy.
Our columnist Michael Miller thinks that 5G will be most important for industrial uses, like automating seaports and industrial robots.
Driverless cars may need 5G to really kick into action, our editor Oliver Rist explains. The first generation of driverless cars will be self-contained, but future generations will interact with other cars and smart roads to improve safety and manage traffic. Basically, everything on the road will be talking to everything else.
To do this, you need extremely low latencies. While the cars are all exchanging very small packets of information, they need to do so almost instantly. That’s where 5G’s sub-one-millisecond latency comes into play, when a packet of data shoots directly between two cars, or bounces from a car to a small cell on a lamppost to another car.
(One light-millisecond is about 186 miles, so most of that 1ms latency is still processing time.)