Spark is working with ambitious local businesses to explore what the future holds and help educate them about the possibilities of 5G and how it can be applied to their industry.
To help bring you up to speed, we’ve aggregated what we believe are some of the most interesting global technological breakthroughs, developments and 5G use cases. We hope they inspire and enlighten you on the ways industry could evolve as 5G rolls out.
The main difference between 5G and the existing 3G and 4G networks is that it combines massive data bandwidth and speed, with incredibly fast response times. To do so, the 5G network must distribute its nodes closer to the customer, building a distributed network architecture rather than a centralised one. This processing power, close to the edge of the network, is the gateway to enabling innovation.
This is the first of a series of articles that delve into the possibilities of 5G and its applications. Let’s start with an overview of the benefits of 5G tech as we see them:
Today we live in a world of Ultra-fast Broadband Fibre (UFB) networks, with speeds up to 1 Gbps. With 5G, using high frequencies of large bandwidths, we can expect speeds of up to 3 Gbps – and in some instances 10 Gbps or more. These faster speeds, combined with greater bandwidth capacity, will potentially give businesses a far more robust way to move information. It will also allow greater reliance on the network to handle bigger tasks.
5G has the potential to dramatically improve latency, from today’s typical 20–40 ms down to less than 10.5 ms – and potentially even down to 1 ms. Latency is the delay that occurs when transmitting digital data between the device and the network. Low latency is key to enabling mass uptake of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies and overcome the motion sickness users might experience. It also increases opportunities for mission-critical industrial applications that need immediate response times to situations.
Another term you'll see frequently used when discussing 5G is edge computing. This technological advancement is made possible by reconfiguring networks so that the functions that require vast amounts of processing power can happen closer to the cell sites that support the relevant customer devices. With the increased bandwidth and lower latency that comes with 5G, there’s no need for data to be moved across the entire country. Instead it takes place at the "edges" of the network, which is another way to say it can happen locally.
Network slicing is a key feature of 5G – a form of built-in prioritisation. It’s a solution that can allow hundreds or even thousands of devices with differing performance requirements to be connected within close proximity. For instance, an autonomous vehicle has more real-time needs than a smart parking sensor. Network slicing accommodates these different needs by tailoring the networks according to the service’s performance requirements and moving the functions closer to the customer. Think of it like assigning the data to various highways, roads, and service lanes, so they can all get to their destination independent of each other.
More things are connecting to a digital network every day – from fridges and e-scooters to farm gates and streetlights. We expect that this will only increase. While today’s networks have limits on the number of simultaneous connections, 5G technology has been designed to support connected device densities of up to 1 million devices per square kilometre on a continual basis.