If connected household appliances, autonomous cars and smooth, uninterrupted video calls are to become a reality we’re going to need better mobile networks. Ones that provide faster, more stable connections with greater data-carrying capacities. And next year, we might start to get them.
The first fifth-generation, or 5G, mobile networks are expected to begin coming online in 2019 in China, South Korea, Japan and the US. Small-scale trials of 5G technology have already taken place in selected British cities, including Bristol, but the country’s 5G networks aren’t expected to start appearing until 2020.
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5G networks use higher radio frequencies to carry more information, so while it might take you up to 10 minutes to download a movie on a 4G connection, it’s claimed you’ll be able to do it in approximately 30 seconds using 5G.
There’s also a lower latency period with 5G signals, meaning less lag in software reactions – an improvement that’s likely to enable the sort of real-time monitoring and response abilities required for autonomous vehicles and drones.
It’s not all good news, however, because although 5G signals are faster and able to carry more data than 4G signals, they don’t travel as far. So in order to build a practical 5G network more booster masts will be needed.
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