Will 5G Wireless Technology be a Big Deal?

Will 5G Wireless Technology be a Big Deal?

No one is talking about it very much, but the introduction of fifth generation (5G) wireless technology is worth putting into your planning horizon.

My sense is that it can be a game changer for almost every business model. That’s the conclusion from recent conversations with several West Coast thought leaders and a recent IEEE article.

In a nutshell, 5G portends to be a big deal – much bigger than the jump from 3G to 4G or 4G LTE. What I have learned (EEs will consider this obvious!) is that 5G is not one thing. Rather, it’s a bucket of different technical advances which can be mixed and matched together. We don’t know yet how the global EE community will put this together; what standards they will choose, but drawing from a recent article in an IEEE publication, and a couple of conversations with much smarter people, here’s a snapshot of what could be “in the box” of 5G technologies:

5G Element*
Comparison to 4G Explanation/Potential Applications
4G 5G
Data Rate 1 Gb/s 20 Gb/s The maximum transmission data rate (gigabits per second) will be 20 times as fast as 4G LTE, while the average user will experience rates 10 to 100 times as fast.
Spectral Efficiency 1.5 k/s/Hz 4.5 b/s/HZ 5G will improve downlink spectral efficiency (bits per second per hertz) threefold.
Data Processing 0.1 Mb/s/m 10 Mb/s/m The network will be able to process 100 times as much data in a given area (megabits per second per square meter).
Device Density 100,000/sq. meters 1,000,000/sq. meters About 900,000 more devices per square kilometer will be able to connect to the network.
Mobility 350 km/h 500 km/h 4G can provide data to devices moving at up to 350 kilometers per hour. 5G will provide data to devices moving at up to 500 km/h.
Transmission Delay 10 ms 1 ms 5G will have one-tenth the latency (milliseconds) of 4G.
Energy Consumption 100
4G takes 1 millijoule to transfer a 1,000-bit data packet. 5G will be able to transfer packets 100 times as efficiently.

* All data from Spectrum North America (IEEE.org), Oct. 2015.

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