The fifth generation of wireless technology, 5G, is almost here. Telecom giants like Jio have confirmed its plans for rollout in India in the second half of 2021. Airtel has also demonstrated its 5G network in Hyderabad ahead of the commercial rollout. So, before you upgrade your data plan to 5G, let us take a look at how 5G will benefit you.
5G, just like 4G, promises faster data transmission and higher bandwidth - the amount of data that can be transferred in a given time. Theoretically, users can get speeds up to 20Gbps which is completely insane, especially when compared to 3G which could offer speeds only up to 40Mbps, but remember that this is all theoretical. In the commercial world, 5G carriers are expected to support speeds up to 1Gbps which is 10x the speeds offered by 4G LTE.
This faster transmission is accompanied by lower latency - the delay caused by your phone connecting to the server, typically measured in milliseconds (ms). In simpler terms, if bandwidth is the width of a highway then latency is the roughness of the road which causes the delay. Latency for 5G, compared to 4G, is drastically low. While 4G was limited to a latency of 50ms, 5G can reach as low as 1ms, theoretically, which is almost instantaneous. Commercially, one can expect the latency to be around 10ms, which is still incredible.
Generally, faster data speeds mean better everything in technology, especially streaming. On 5G, you can download a whole episode of the Netflix show, Stranger Things, in seconds! Your YouTube videos will begin instantly, without any buffering. The time it will take to download your favourite games like Fortnite and Call of Duty Mobile will drastically be reduced. This low latency will not just help you download these games faster but also play them better. If you are a gamer you probably already realise the importance of ping, so there’s no need for me to explain to you. For non-gamers, all you need to know is that your boyfriend, son or brother will be ranting a lot less about lag than they do now.
Remote Processing & Cloud Gaming
With the help of high speeds, you can access files, programs and other applications instantly, without downloading them on your phone. This is Cloud Technology which means all your processing will be done remotely off a server in some other corner of the world. For example, you will be able to access some mobile application on your smartphone without ever installing it.
Gaming is a huge application of Cloud Processing. This will allow users to play AAA titles like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto on your mobile phones or tablets without breaking a sweat because all rendering and processing will be done remotely and not on your smartphone. You will never need to download the game on your device, think of it like Netflix but for gaming. This is exactly what companies like Google and Microsoft are trying to do with Stadia and xCloud respectively.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
In addition to better streaming quality and faster downloads, 5G also promises immersive experiences, including virtual & augmented reality and 3D content. Both AR and VR, which require strong network requirements like low latency, high reliability and high bandwidth, will be improved with the help of 5G. For example, a problem we currently face with Virtual Reality headsets is that high ping leads to a lag between action and response which can cause motion sickness. This issue will be eliminated with the help of 5G and users will get a much more refined experience with more detailed graphics.
There are many other applications of Virtual Reality that will be benefitted by 5G, one of the most important being the ability to feel things. Wearing your Virtual Reality headset and special gloves you will be able to feel whatever you see in front of you. An example of this technology would be the ability to drive a car, remotely. One of Ericsson’s set up puts you into a driver’s seat of a car 50 kilometres away, you can drive it and feel going over the speed bumps and crashing into traffic cones just like if you were inside the car thanks to excellent haptic feedback, all because of 5G. Just like this doctors will be able to perform remote surgery using virtual reality headsets, robotic arms and haptics.
The introduction of 5G into our lives is a massive step towards our sci-fi dreams like Augmented Glasses. AR glasses have the potential to be the pioneer of consumer technology, which is exactly why companies like Apple are working on their pair of glasses. This technology can replace our smartphones and overlay notifications like text messages, emails etc. on the real world. An ideal example of this situation would be AR navigation which overlays directions by showing arrows on to the street right in front of you.
Smart homes & cities
The speedier data connections mean that the adoption of smart devices will be faster. A wider bandwidth will help Internet of Things (IoT) devices to communicate with each other, leading to not just smart homes but also smart cities. This also means that more self-driving vehicles will be deployed on the streets of your city. Everything, including lampposts, traffic signals and cameras will be able to communicate with each other which will help in monitoring and making your city safer. This also means that on your way to work, your car will be able to exchange information with other vehicles. Being self-driven, it will take the fastest route possible and park itself in available parking slots. This communication between cars will also reduce traffic on the roads and reduce the number of accidents, especially the ones caused by human error.
When can I use 5G?
Like any technology, 5G will take time to develop, it is still in its early stages. Most of these applications already exist but are not mainstream quite yet. 5G will provide them with the boost they require to be widely adopted, but that is still a little while away. Countries like the USA and China are still setting up 5G networks, while India is still lagging in its testing and planning phase.