5G is here, and it's here to be a game changer, or so they say. But what does it mean to you and can it benefit you or your business? We know for sure - yes, it is possible. 5G IoT is a real catalyst for the development of Industry 4.0; chances are your industry is already part of this revolution.
Why is everyone excited about 5G?
To answer this question, let's start with the essential: what is 5G? 5G stands for the fifth generation of wireless technology. In simplified terms, the first wireless generation enabled us to make calls and popularize mobile phones, the second helped us to send text messages, the third brought the Internet to our phones, and the fourth enabled us to transfer large quantities. Of data at much higher rates. Speed (e.g., Netflix streaming on our smart devices).
The fifth generation is expected to make some critical improvements: reduce latency (i.e., response time) to enable real-time communication and improve data transfer, especially upstream speeds. At first glance, it might seem that 5G is not about executing new and revolutionary ideas like cell phones once were but improving existing ones. However, that's not entirely true because unleashing this incredible potential can create a whole world of solutions that previously seemed unthinkable. The 5G standard uses new technologies and enhances existing ones to enable unprecedented data transmission.
Millimeter wave (mmWave)
Millimeter waves – radio frequencies between 30 and 300 GHz – are obviously nothing new. The first studies on them date back to the twilight of the 19th century! They have many different applications but have until now been little used in telecommunications, despite the promise of incomparably better transmission speeds. This is because they have a relatively short range due to high attenuation. H their tendency to lose strength when absorbed by air or moisture. There is a negative correlation between frequency and its range (the higher the frequency, the shorter the range). For this reason, in 5G, we distinguish the spectrum into low (600-850 MHz), medium (2.5-3.7 GHz), and high (25-39 GHz) bands, as each has different characteristics. Higher bands offer better speeds but at the cost of less range.
A world of possibilities
5G is considered such a breakthrough because many experts see it as a key factor in developing an exciting new world of the Internet of Things, as opposed to just machine-to-machine communication (which is the difference between IoT and M2M, you ask?). Until now, IoT technology has been limited by the capabilities of 4G networks, such as the number of devices it can handle. With all the smartphones and smartwatches, devices like smart locks, switches , cars, factories, 4G is fast approaching that capability. 5G, on the other hand, can support up to one million devices per square kilometer, ten times more than 4G.
As said, 5G can handle more devices and better. The standard established by the International Telecommunication Union - Radiocommunications Sector (ITU-R) for 4G (IMT-Advanced) technologies had a maximum data rate of 1 gigabit per second. For IMT-2020, i.e., 5G technologies, the bar has been raised to 20 Gbps. Sure, "peak" is anything but "average," but it shows just how much potential 5G has, and we can already see some astonishing speeds in the networks that have been set up so far. Nobody needs to convince anyone that faster and wider networks are better, but these are crucial factors for the Internet of Things. The number of connected devices is constantly growing, and as each of these becomes more sophisticated, it collects and transmits more and more information, creating a large amount of data. The speed at which these devices can communicate determines how useful they become.
This is why 5G has another superior advantage, and that is latency, which is response delay. Again, the "gold standard" for 4G is ten milliseconds; for 5G - only 1 ms. It doesn't seem like a big difference, especially considering that a literal "blink" lasts over 300ms. But for 5G IoT, it could make the difference between life and death when you think of its application in self-driving cars that have to make split-second decisions in emergencies or robot-assisted operations requiring perfect accuracy.