What exactly is 5G?
5G is the fifth generation of wireless communications technologies supporting cellular data networks. It is basically an upgrade from the more common 4G and is aimed at enhancing connection not only between people but also between machines, objects and devices — think advancements in emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and so on.
How is it different from other ‘Gs’?
The “G” usually associated with cellular networks stands for generation. More than 4G and other previous generations, 5G is expected to expand the capacity for mobile networks, making it possible for more devices to use the network than ever before.
According to Verizon, 2G has a maximum speed of about 50kbps (kilobytes per second) and allows basic operations like calls, SMS and MMS. 3G networks reach up to 2mbps (megabytes per second) when stationary.
4G, which is the current standard, is 500 times faster than 3G and supports more advanced activities like HD video streaming and video conferencing with speeds of up to 100s of Mbps.
The main way 5G differs from all of the previous generations is in its peak capacity and reduced latency, which is the time between when information is sent from a device until it is used by a receiver.
Who owns 5G?
5G is not “owned” by any one person, however, like with previous generations, companies can own patents in the technology, in essence earning royalties from implementers.
According to a 2019 Wall Street Journal report, Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE Corp. have put forth vastly more proposals —and are among the biggest owners of key 5G patents.
Beyond faster connections, what exactly are the benefits of 5G?
While the move from 3G to 4G LTE was about faster connections, experts say the evolution to 5G is much more and the benefits it will bring to society in the coming decade are truly revolutionary.
In addition to accelerated Internet speed, 5G is said to fast-track the mass adoption of technologies that rely on Internet connectivity, from connecting self-driving cars and drones to virtual reality, remote surgery, and the Internet of things.
It is very likely that 5G will take these most talked about technology trends mainstream in the coming years.
How is 5G transmitted, will it replace fibre and 4G?
Fibre optic cables are currently the fastest means of transmitting Internet connectivity and 5G technology will make use of the existing fibre backbone in Nigeria.
Nigeria has made some strides in the development of fibre connections and most base transceiver stations (telecom masts) are connected by fibre optic cables.
According to a discussion with a telecom service engineer, with 4G already installed in telecom sites, 5G devices (small cells) will be installed within short distances of each other as determined by user needs.
Hence, it appears 5G will be integrated into the existing Internet framework such as the fibre backbone, telecom masts and 4G technology, and will serve as an upgrade to improve wireless connections.