By Brian Kingston
LAST month I started this article as a series by which, month on month I will attempt to explain 5G (fifth generation mobile networks). So far we have covered the basics (see my article in Business Times October 2018). Simply put, this is the fifth type of mobile radio system that is likely to be the greatest advance yet.
But wait, as I lay in bed in my luxury hotel room in Brighton, (Caribbean next month), overlooking the sea, BBC Breakfast has just announced that EE have started a live trial of 5G in Montgomery Square, Canary Wharf! The trial is designed to test 5Gspectrum and devices, for coverage and speed, the location an obvious choice as it's a very busy area with 150,000 people coming into the estate every day.
5G will have to cope with huge data demands from vast numbers of connected devices hence the choice of area that will really put it to the test. EE has said that this is a critical part of its 5G launch and plans ten more sites live across east London later this month aimed at both consumer and business technology.
What benefits will it bring?
The main benefits of 5G are expected to be that it will be much faster - some are saying as much as 100 times faster. 4G networks generally deliver download speeds between 20 and 100 Megabits per second (Mbit/s). By comparison, 5G promises to offer speeds in excess of 1Gb/s (1000Mbit/s), with many estimates placing it closer to 10Gb/s (10,000Mbit/s).
To place that in context, you will be able to download - not merely stream - a full HD movie in less than 10 seconds on a 5G network. The same task would take closer to 10 minutes on 4G. It will also have lower latency, meaning very little delay when doing things on your device, just milliseconds, which are undetectable as a user. That will help not just with existing things such as online gaming, but could also be vital for things like self-driving cars, where any delay could be the difference between life and death.
Will I need a new phone?
Yes, before you all go rushing of too Canary Wharf, or any other area of east London that goes on this trial, you'll need a 5G-capable device to connect to 5G, and you'll be able to get one pretty soon but I am not sure when 'pretty soon' is. So, more next month, when I shall be, as previously stated, in the warm and sunny Caribbean.