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The Future of 5G in 2022
The Future of 5G in 2022
There is a lot of talk of the rollout of 5G floating around. But it’s hard to wade through the noise to know what’s actually happening. Talk of chip shortages, pushback from conspiracy theorists and other setbacks have put the whole idea up in the air, to the point that no one is entirely sure what 5G is and what it does.

What is 5G?

5G is considered the next step in mobile data, or the fifth generation, if you will. Although you will hear a lot about the superior speed of 5G, that isn’t its main advancement. The extra speed of 5G is due to its massive expansion in data storage. With more room to store, the data doesn’t have to work so hard and therefore works a lot faster.

How much faster? Well, 4G networks are currently offering an average of 45Mbps (or megabits per second), but the industry experts behind 5G are aiming for a whopping 1Gbps (gigabits per second) or 1,000Mbps. It could make download speeds anywhere from 10-20 times faster, allowing you to download a movie in around a minute.

Not only will all of your devices enjoy much faster download and upload speeds, but a lot more devices will be able to connect to the mobile internet at the same time. Every advancement in digital technology takes data, and the more advanced they get the more data is needed. With more data storage provided by 5G, these advancements will load and perform a lot better and faster. Things like augmented reality, mobile virtual reality, high resolution video and more will all be the norm with 5G.

As for the bigger picture, current data storage is filling up, and getting congested. As music and video streaming in particular has gained popularity, data storage has filled, leading to service breakdowns. These are common when there are a lot of people in the same area trying to access it, like a city.

When will we see 5G?
We’re starting to see it already. Across the world 5G is getting rolled out in popular cities. In the US alone more than 100 million people will have access to it over 1,700 cities by January. Developing countries like South Africa and India are happily embracing the idea.

Meanwhile, here in the UK, providers like EE, O2, Virgin Media, Three, BT and Vodafone are already offering 5G across cities like Birmingham, Glasgow, and London, to name only a few.
The problem is, unfortunately, that we will have to replace our phones to use it. 5G requires a chip and modem, and therefore you cannot upgrade the hardware of a 3G or 4G phone to accept 5G. Some companies, like O2 have even mentioned that customers will have to get a new SIM card to access their 5G. The good news is that that means you can get a new phone.

5G Future Trends
Higher data speeds are the most transformative thing about 5G, says Professor Will Stewart, Chair of the Institute of Engineering and Technology's (IET’s) Digital Communication Group. “It’s not just that you can deliver more bits,” he says, “it’s also cheaper as you can send more bits per minute.”

There’s much more than financial savings to be had, though – the high bandwidth and ultra-reliable low latency communication (URLLC) offered by Releases 15 and 16 enable new capabilities that the industrial sector is beginning to wake up to. By the end of this year, Release 17 will have also arrived, which will focus on additional specifications to support unmanned aerial systems (UAVs), multimedia priority services, fixed mobile convergence and network slicing.

Indeed, 5G’s capabilities go way beyond what previous cellular technologies offered, which makes it very interesting for certain companies, says Dan Bieler, principal analyst at Forrester. “They can think about designing smarter factories,” he explains. “Use cases might include advanced track and trace, wireless connection of machines, mobile robots, sensors; with the ability to connect to so many devices you could move into a totally different dimension of data mining and analysts. 5G really offers an opportunity to have a big rethink of how manufacturing works.”

Manufacturing is at the forefront of 5G right, but he advises businesses in logistics and oil and gas not to underestimate the potential of 5G-enabled internet of things (IoT) possibilities. “In transport, there’s so many moving parts – containers, cars, cranes, ships, that’s where I see a lot of potential 5G implementations,” he says. “I also see it being explored in the retail space, to enable sophisticated customer engagement technologies like smart screens in stores or omnichannel customer support.”

5G will continue to support the growth of mixed reality services this year. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications have often suffered from significant lag between a request and response, which lowers immersion. With the improved latency and higher bandwidth 5G brings, the overall user experience can be dramatically improved, and we’ll begin to see more mixed reality services experienced in real-time. It’s no coincidence, after all, that debates about the metaverse have started to dominate the tech agenda.
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