I don’t think there is anyone on the planet that has regular access to the news that hasn’t heard about 5G wireless technology and how it is going to change the world. While there is considerable hype around 5G, and it will likely take longer to develop than pundits predict; there isn’t any doubt that its impact will be significant. In its basic form, 5G is simply the next generation of mobile technology that falls on the heels of 4G or LTE (Long Term Evolution) as it is commonly known. But with 5G come some significant new developments that make it unique.
One new innovation is the introduction of higher frequency spectrum, so called “millimeter wave” frequencies. There is still some jockeying in terms of exactly which frequencies will be deployed at scale, but generally speaking we are talking about frequencies in the 30Ghz range and above. For example, Verizon is reportedly using 28Ghz in their early field trial in Sacramento, California. By contrast, current cellular deployments all use frequencies below 6Ghz—often quite a bit below such as 700Mhz. These new frequencies have to date been unexploited and utilizing them requires some sophisticated RF engineering, but they are significant because only at these frequencies can cellular networks approach gigabit per second speeds.
In our next post, we will talk about the first application for 5G as well as where we are likely headed.