What is 5G?
5G is that the 5th generation of worldwide wireless technology used for mobile and internet services. To state the obvious, the ‘G’ in 5G stands for generation. 5G technology is that the next stage within the evolution of communication technology that follows the previous ‘Gs’ from 1 to 4. Over time, the ‘Gs’ have progressed across data speed and volume, to be ready to support an increasing array of functions and data loads that grow with the increasing demand network effect in communications.
In simplified terms, like earlier generations of technology, 5G adopts radio emission technology instead of using physical conduits, so it’s invisible and not something you’ll touch or feel. Mobile networks typically operate within frequencies from around several hundred megahertz up to 40 gigahertz. Other uses for this part of the radio emission spectrum include TV broadcasting, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cordless phones.
5G technology builds on advancements in radio emission spectrum usage, and therefore the freeing from spectrum as services like analog TV broadcasting are transitioned, in virtuous recycling of the spectrum. However, there’s a clear aspect to 5G, the tangible tower and cell networks that power the transmission of data that creates the entire system work; this is often the world of interest and opportunity for Essential Infrastructure investing.
How does 5G achieve wireless coverage?
Simply put, as 5G networks are wireless they take a honeycomb approach to put together a grid of coverage. Each cell of the honeycomb has, at its center, a mobile tower loaded with 5G equipment. This equipment sends out and receives data across all the devices within its area. Each cell slightly overlaps to make sure that a user features a continuous connection as they move from one cell to a different one. This ultimately allows the mobile network to seamlessly cover broad geographical areas, as illustrated in Figure 1.
5G uses higher frequencies than 4G. As a result, 5G waves are ready to carry more data, but the trade-off is that they’re unable to travel as far (a few hundred meters on present technology), compared to 4G frequencies which may carry data several kilometers. This suggests that a 5G network requires up to 10 times more towers, base stations, and macro-cells to supply ‘blanket’ wireless coverage for users to an equivalent reach as 4G.
The launch of 4G capacity already required the addition of more towers and little cells to make a coverage blanket. In many cases, the existing tower infrastructure is going to be ready to support the new locations required by 5G. Because the rollout of the 5G network takes place, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) will likely race to be the primary to launch their service. This may provide the tower companies (and their shareholders) with an additional leg of growth because the new 5G networks are deployed. Tower companies, utilities, and communications companies are investing during this network, and are aligned within the shift to a more compelling wireless internet.
As a user, what am I able to expect from 5G technology?
According to the marketers, 5G promises tons, and within the context of a slow-moving leviathan just like the NBN, the market is willing to listen to promises of faster speeds and easier connections.
Enabling the IoT with wireless 5G technology which will provide the required low latency and data capacity is that the start of true enablement across a variety of emerging technologies that will change how we live, like increased energy efficiency, home security, fitness, and well-being, smart cities, internet-connected cars, and autonomous driving, environmental sensors, even remote surgeries.
5G technology and therefore the IoT is predicted to contribute to emissions reduction largely through the more intelligent and efficient usage of electricity, gas, and other fuels as devices are more connected. For instance, your oven or air-con, connected to your mobile or devices, can turn on or off at certain energy price points, and match actual periods of need. Increased digitization is one of the key drivers of a more energy-efficient, lower-carbon environment. Mobile network-enabled technologies form a crucial part of the decarbonization solution as they facilitate rapid emissions reductions while improving quality of life and supporting economic processes.
For the various performance reasons outlined, and within the context of universal disappointment at the NBN, 5G awareness and therefore the intention to upgrade among consumers is rising rapidly. By 2025, 5G technology is projected to capture some 20% of worldwide connections, with strong adoption expected across developed Asia, North America, and Europe markets.