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What Is 5G?

The rise of mobile data was one of the most impactful innovations in consumer electronics and online connectivity in recent years. No longer are most of us tied to the home Wi-Fi to do our work and interact with friends and family on social media.

The newest generation of this mobile network is known as 5G, and it’s starting to see initial phases of adoption by smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. But what is 5G? And is it truly a breakthrough in global connectivity?

As its name suggests, 5G is the fifth generation of the wireless mobile network that provides Internet connectivity to devices and users around the globe. You will likely use it on your smartphone someday.

But in addition to mobile broadband that most consumers will be familiar with, there are many other applications of 5G. For instance, it can be implemented with Internet of Things (IoT) networks to connect multiple devices, machines, and sensors together for more complex data collection operations.

How Does 5G Work?

In order to make the signal clearer and more accessible to more people, 5G uses several underlying technologies:

  • 5G’s New Radio air interface
  • Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) that spreads a signal among several channels to cut down on interference
  • Wide bandwidth methods like sub-6 GHz

The result of all these new tools working together is that 5G is more flexible and capable than ever before, and only time will tell how many new use cases will be found for it. Large-scale implementations of IoT and more mission-critical communications will soon be possible with 5G.

Who's Active in 5G?

While no one corporation owns the entirety of 5G, several groups have arisen in order to help manage its rollout. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is the standards organization responsible for global specifications for 3G, 4G, LTE, and 5G. It also supported the development of 5G’s underlying technologies like the air interface.

3GPP is made up of various companies ranging from:

  • Infrastructure management firms, including network operators
  • Manufacturers of smartphones and other devices that interface with the network
  • Vertical solution providers for specific industries like healthcare, financial, or retail
Why Is 5G Better Than 4G and Other Previous Iterations?

Previous “Gs,” while less powerful, were stepping stones that led to this innovative new breakthrough. 1G can be described as analog voice, which was first transmitted this way in the 1980s. 2G followed about a decade later and started transferring digital audio.

3G was the beginning of mobile data as we know it back in the early 2000s, and it was such a breakthrough that Apple even named its feature product, the iPhone 3G, after the network it was compatible with.

From there, 4G LTE in the 2010s was an even faster, more capable online network that most smartphones today operate on. You’ve likely never had any problems watching YouTube videos or movies on a mobile device if you had a 4G LTE connection.

  • Compared to the previous 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G, 5G boasts:
  • Higher data transfer speeds (Up to 20 Gbps in some cases)
  • Lower latencies than ever thought possible
  • Greater network capacity and availability
  • Better reliability
  • A more unified platform for operations

This last point is important because it’s one of the largest evolutions compared to 4G. 5G can cover various spectrum types (licensed or unlicensed) and cover many bands (low to high). Connection methods can be between devices or through a multi-hop mesh.

The result is unparalleled new potential for various industries everywhere, such as healthcare, logistics, transportation, manufacturing, and anything else in between. Remote work, which has seen an immense spike in popularity, will be empowered by 5G connectivity.

What Impacts Will 5G Have on Society?

Both individuals and businesses will reap the benefits of faster browsing and download speeds, as well as lower latencies and a much larger capacity for more users. Whether you’re an AI enthusiast, an online shopper ready for e-commerce implementations of augmented reality, or just a multiplayer gamer excited for virtual reality, there are many reasons to look forward to 5G.

For society as a whole, 5G will have immense implications for economic development. Let’s look at what the current studies show about the imminent impact of 5G’s rollout. Two reports we’re looking at here are the 2020 report from IHS Markit and the 2021 Accenture reports for both the United States and Europe.

In terms of overall financial growth, we’re expecting by 2035 that $13.1 trillion worth of sales will be enabled partly by 5G technology. 22.8 million new jobs will also be created thanks to the network. GDP will grow by 10.8%, a rate of $265 billion annually, over the next 15 years.

Many industries will also see a major boost in activity thanks to 5G:

  • Retail will see a 50% sales growth, as well as the adoption of new features for consumers like in-store video experiences.
  • Manufacturing will likely see a 25% increase in productivity thanks to optimizations enabled by 5G.
  • Healthcare can start implementing remote care from home for patients, resulting in lower costs and better outcomes.
  • Automotives can use IoT and other 5G applications to cut down on traffic and reduce the cost of collisions by $3.6 billion in total.

These are just a few examples of industries that will benefit from 5G rollout. In fact, experts predict that entirely new markets will pop up as well. Cities, for instance, might start implementing more efficient infrastructure and safety features enabled by IoT.

And on top of all these changes, 5G is a huge step in the right direction for sustainability because it introduces new methods of cutting down on carbon emissions and boosting energy efficiency. More optimized transportation routes will result in less gasoline usage in cars, and agricultural applications of 5G will enable reduced herbicide and pesticide usage.

How Can My Business Stay Up-to-Date with 5G Development?

5G is hitting the scene at the perfect time to empower the rising trend of remote work and closer online collaboration amongst employees and teams. But only the companies with a serious approach to business communication will gain access to these benefits.

Forward-thinking management groups know that cloud communication is the key to keeping your company afloat in an ever-competitive corporate landscape. Find out how major brands like Mitel, Digium, and Metaswitch have empowered their teams to use these technologies through softphone platforms like Cloud Softphone.

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