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What is 5G? Everything you need to know about the new wireless revolution

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Video: 5G: Is all the hype deserved?

Executive summary

It is the fourth time in history that the world's telecommunications providers (the telcos) have acknowledged the need for a complete overhaul of their wireless infrastructure. This is why the ever-increasing array of technologies[1], listed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) as "Release 15" and "Release 16" of their standards for wireless telecom, is called 5G. It is an effort to create a sustainable industry around the wireless consumption of data for all the world's telcos.

Read also: T-Mobile and Sprint merger: The numbers and assumptions you need to know[2]

One key goal of 5G is to dramatically improve quality of service, and extend that quality over a broader geographic area, in order for the wireless industry to remain competitive against the onset of gigabit fiber service[3] coupled with Wi-Fi.

New business models

180430-06-ericsson-ntt-docomo-5g-trial.jpgEquipment staged by NTT DOCOMO for 5G urban area trials in Japan. (Image: Ericsson)

The initial costs of these improvements may be tremendous, and consumers have already demonstrated their intolerance for rate hikes. So, to recover those costs, telcos will need to offer new classes of service to new customer segments, for which 5G has made provisions. These include:

  • Fixed wireless[4] data connectivity in dense metropolitan areas, with gigabit per second or better bandwidth, through a dazzling, perhaps bewildering, new array of microwave relay antennas;
  • Edge computing[5] services that bring computing power closer to the point where sensor data from remote, wireless devices would be collected, eliminating the latency incurred by public cloud-based applications;
  • Machine-to-machine communications[6] services that could bring low-latency connectivity to devices such as self-driving cars and machine assembly

Read more from our friends at ZDNet

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