Why 5G is beyond the speed of your phone.
By Zahir, one of our two apprentices (March 1st, 2019)
As MWC 2019 shuts its doors we are left with the promises of phones that fold, or that have a battery with the same capacity as your laptop or the possibility of a Motorola flip phone with a foldable display. A huge theme of MWC this year was the vast array of 5G technologies being shown off with a deeper focus on the phones that will have the Qualcomm chipsets that support 5G.
There was a multitude of 5G phones that were announced or teased at MWC and most of them were just a 5G version of a 4G phone with a large price increase while some phones had some extra improvements over their 4G siblings. Phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G which has a bigger battery and screen compared to the Galaxy S10 Plus to justify its higher price since I suppose even Samsung doesn't think that 5G alone is worth the price increase so they butcher their Plus line and create what essentially is a Plus Plus line of the S10.
OnePlus also showcased a 5G prototype that was shown streaming games over a 5G network smoothly at a playable framerate with very low latency. A company called Shadow provided the game streaming service that powered this and if you were to try to use their service over a 4G network you would struggle to have an enjoyable experience. Even though OnePlus is usually associated with being a very value for money brand Pete Lau, the CEO of OnePlus, has previously said that 5G phones will typically cost £150 to £220 more than a 4G version of the same phone meaning that when the 5G OnePlus 7 will most likely cost at least £700 since it will most likely be a clone of the highest end OnePlus 7 but just with a 5G modem similar to how Samsung priced their phones this year.
Even though 5G for phones definitely leaves people a good reason to get excited, 5G can be way more inspiring and life-changing than just a modem in a phone.
Huawei has partnered with Sunrise, a Swiss telecommunications company, to deliver that fastest internet speeds in Europe in the form of a 5G fibre replacement in rural and urban areas in places within Switzerland where it is hard to provide a reliable broadband connection. This project can help eliminate the digital divide that often plagues rural areas. This technology could also be used to address the larger digital divide that is present in other parts of the world and could help connect them to the wonders of the internet and the opportunities it carries along with it.
Faster broadband is amazing but how do we take full advantage of this new connection from home and even halfway across the world when a connection isn't freely available. A company called Athonet have achieved a ‘complete dedicated mobile network solution’ that can provide employees with a bubble of secure 5G so you never have to find an internet connection. One of their solutions is a heavy duty backpack/rucksack that provides the user with a 5G and LTE connection allowing them to be connected to the internet and thus other people in their company who could be thousands of miles away. This personal network could be life-saving due to its reliability that ensures it will still be operational during nation-wide emergencies in which mainstream consumer mobile networks may fail.
Once again Huawei continues to make waves in the 5G space by now developing a smart city in China that will be heavily reliant on the 5G network that they will implement in the city. The city will be a culmination of technologies such as IoT, big data, GIS and more that could trigger a drastic transformation in the way we interact with our city and the people living in it.
Alongside its consumer modems, Qualcomm has released a new 5G capable modem that has been specifically designed for autonomous vehicles. This platform allows for cars to communicate with other cars and the main infrastructure using Qualcomm’s C-V2X direct communications which could allow for the transfer of data between cars and the infrastructure allowing developers to increase the safety of self-driving technology.
To conclude, 5G is most likely going to be an influential factor in the transformation of our society and bringing it into a new age of hyperfast internet connection that could allow for technologies to flourish where they were unable to previously. However it seems like it isn't right around the corner due to the battle between Huawei, who are at the forefront of 5G technology, and the US supposedly due to security concerns. It all depends on this battle and on how fast 5G can be implemented globally and whoever falls behind may lose more than just a race of internet speed.