Smartphones rule the world. It’s claimed that there are 2 billion smartphone users in the market, and the number is only expected to continue growing. By 2021, it’s predicted that the average smartphone user will consume up to 9GB of mobile data a month. So, with this increase putting a strain on mobile networks, what will happen when 4G doesn’t cut it anymore?

What is 5G?
5G will be created with the aims of reducing latency, handling more data, connecting with more devices, increasing the general reliability of mobile networks. 5G will be developed to meet consumer needs by pooling bandwidth, thus boosting range and speed. This will support the increasingly larger data requirements of networks and support new applications from developing augmented reality to vehicle connections, and the Internet of things.

Currently, the average 4G network has around 30-50Mbps in real-world conditions, with 5G we can expect speeds on average of 100mps for networks that already have LTE-Advanced. In lab conditions, the technology can handle up to a theoretical maximum of 150Mbps. However, we may see LTE-Advanced marketed as either 5G or 4G+ or even LTE-Advanced +, due to the variation in technical definitions of wireless technologies – and the lack of a universal standard.

How is it going to be so fast?
5G will slice data into individual bands which will have their own bandwidth limitations. This means that combining the bands and pooling the bandwidth means that users can reach speeds of 100mps. The developments of this evolutionary process of mobile data have resulted in some even predicting a more additive and iterative upgrade process would remove the need for a full jump to ‘6G’.

How will we benefit from it?
5G should be fully integrated by 2035, a “Qualcomm-led study claims the industry could produce up to $12.3 trillion worth of goods and services enabled by 5G.” and it is claimed that 5G could generate revenue of $3.5 trillion and support 22 million jobs by the time we reach 2035. it is predicted that between 2020 – 2035 5G will add a boost of $3 trillion dollars to GDP growth, roughly the equivalent of adding an economy the size of India.

Who’s developing it and when will it arrive?
The Finnish company Nokia have developed what they call 4.5G, not quite 5G yet, but a step closer indeed. Nokia has claimed that 4.5G will bring ten times the speed of 4G networks, peeking at 1GB a second. It’s rumoured that the development of 4.9G is underway and hope to release this in the near future.

For those over in the states, AT&T and Verizon have begun small trials of 5G, and hope to roll this out further in the coming decade, beginning this year. the trials and roll-out formed part of the Obama administration’s Advanced Wireless Research Initiative led by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

As it stands now, 5G is expected to start rolling out globally in 2020, with Ovum’s figures suggesting there will be 24 million subscribers by 2021. However, it’s claimed that less than 10% of the connections will be in Europe. The UK Government and Ofcom must make sure essential mobile services are available everywhere and the pair should develop a set of metrics that represent the coverage people actually receive. These should then be used to determine a mobile Universal Service Obligation so customers can access essential services where they are needed. The report goes on to say the UK Government and Ofcom should deliver this as “soon as is practical but no later than 2025.”