5G Features Explained in Detail

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This post explains the features of 5G wireless technology in detail, when will it be available in India and how is it different from the current 4G technology. Also, the benefits of 5G communication technology are also explained.

What is 5G Communication Technology?

5G if the fifth iteration or fifth generation of wireless communication technology that promises speeds upto 20 Gbps (Gigabits per second). 5G cellular technology will also enable much higher data transmission than is currently possible over 4G systems due to its higher bandwidth capacity.

5G will utilize the spectrum band between 3 GHz and 30 GHz to generate high-speed waves.

Unlike 4G that requires high powered cellular towers to transmit signals over long distances, 5G wireless signals will be transmitted via a large number of small cell stations that will be located on light towers or building roofs.

5G requires multiple small towers to radiate signals since radio waves in the 3 GHz to 30 GHz spectrum can travel at very high speeds only for short distances. 5G will employ millimetre wave (mmWave) for transmission which is exclusively available in high-frequency spectrum above 24 GHz. However, the downside of a millimetre wave is that it cannot penetrate through buildings and can travel for short distances only.

Uses of 5G Cellular Technology

5G wireless technology offers many exciting uses such as the following:

  1. It will allow network operators to create multiple virtual networks with a single physical 5G network owing to network slicing. The network operators could then sell different services with varying needs of speed and bandwidth requirements on the Gigabits virtual networks.
  2. Services such as self-driving cars, Internet of Things etc. will greatly benefit from the 5G communication revolution.

5G vs 4G Technology Comparison

Feature 5G 4G
Avg. Download Speed 10 Gbps 20 Mbps
Latency (lag) 1 millisecond 50 millisecond
Spectrum 2.3 GHz to 24 GHz and Higher 800 Mhz to 2.6 Ghz

From the above comparison between 5G and 4G, it is clear that 5G technology is faster, has higher bandwidth and lower latency than 4G. 5G also has much lower latency than 4G. While 4G network takes upto 50 milliseconds for data to be sent, 5G is expected to take only 1 millisecond for data transfer to begin. Users will also benefit from the much higher download speed on 5G networks in comparison to 4G networks. Entire HD videos can be downloaded within seconds on 5G.

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5G Deployment

However 5G deployment will take many years since cellular operators are still investing in completing the nationwide coverage of 4G technology. 5G cellular services will begin in Europe in 2019, however wireline or broadband services will take longer since the infrastructure will need to put in place in first.

In India, 4G coverage is still expanding. In the OpenSignal State of Mobile Networks Report for India, it is seen that 4G availability for all cellular operators has touched 65% in 2018. However, the highest average download speed on any cellular network has not crossed  6.1 Mbps. This implies that increasing coverage of 4G, rather than increasing 4G speed, is the primary concern of Indian cellular operators.

5G deployment in India is effectively many years away.

Reference Books for IAS

GS Solved Papers
General Studies Manual
Manorama Year Book
Oxford Student Atlas
Science and Technology

Topic-wise Books for IAS

Indian Polity Laxmikanth
Ecology and Environment
India's Struggle for Independence
Brief History of Modern India
Indian Art and Culture
Certificate Course in Geography

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