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    What is 5G Technology and How it Works

    With 1G we moved from telephone calls to mobile phone calls which gave us the freedom of movement as opposed to the wire-bound telephone. 

    2G gave us the option to SMS. We could send written messages to people through our mobile phones. 

    3G brought us on the internet. We could browse the world wide web through our phones and were no longer dependent on our computers to go online. 

    After coming on the internet thanks to 3G, 4G gave us the speeds we hadn’t witnessed before. All these technologies successively paved the way for the technological advancements that we have made today. 

    And now to contribute more to this journey of human progress, we have 5G on its way. 

    What is 5G Technology and How it Works

    What is 5G?

    5G is the 5th generation of mobile networks and will be 10x faster than 4G LTE. To give you an idea, with 5G you’ll be able to download an HD movie in under a second. 

    This means that connection errors, lags, and buffering will be things of the past. 

    We stream HD movies on our phones seamlessly, get good quality video calls and get to use numerous apps on our phones and we do all that and more with our 4G network connection. 

    So one might wonder what is the need for 5G? Considering things are working well with 4G, right?

    Well, you see, as more phones, tablets and other devices come online, they take up the 4G bandwidth. As more and more devices are added, 4G may reach it’s limit soon. 

    More devices will mean less speed. So to eradicate this problem, we are trying to make 5G a reality as it will be able to handle 1000 times more traffic than 4G. 

    5G will also reduce our network’s battery consumption by 90%. 

    All this will come with low latency, extremely high-speed data, and faster data transfer speed.

    How 5G works?

    Enabling technologies are those that are essential to run technology. In the case of 5G, we have 5 main technologies that are required. 
    1. Millimeter Waves: out phones use very specific frequency waves. These are typically under 6Ghz. But as more devices join the frequency band it’s getting more and more crowded. 

    Carriers can squeeze in so many bits of data on the same amount of radio frequency spectrum. And as we learned above that more devices mean slower service. Hence we are expanding to millimetre waves which fall under 30-300gHz. 

    But Millimetre waves don’t travel well through obstacles and they get absorbed by plants and rains. So how do we overcome this? 

    With the help of small cells. 

    2. Small Cell: our current high powered cell towers transmit signals over long distances. But due to mm waves high frequency, it has a hard time traveling through obstacles. So much so that if you move behind an obstacle such as a wall, you’ll lose signal. 

    To solve this issue we take the help of small cells. They will be thousands of low powered mini base stations that will be positioned much closer to each other compared to traditional base stations. This will form a relay team to transmit signals around obstacles. 

    So when a user will move around the city, the cell will frequently switch base stations and won’t lose signal. 

    These small base stations can be fixed both in our homes and outdoors. 

    3. Massive MIMO: MIMO stands for multiple input multiple output.  It is a wireless network that includes transmitting and receiving more than one data signal simultaneously. This is typically done using a separate antenna for both transmitting and receiving.

    Our current 4G base stations have a dozen ports for antennas that handle all cellular traffic. But a massive MIMO base station could support hundreds of ports. This could increase the capacity of today’s network by a factor of 22 or more. 

    But the problem with this is, that our current 4G cellular antennas broadcast information in every direction at once. So while it works well now, but with massive MIMO all those crossing signals could cause some serious interference. 

    To solve this we take help of the next technology i.e. beamforming. 

    4. Beamforming: unlike our current system where the base station sends signals in all directions at once, with the help of beamforming, the base station will send a focused stream of data to a specific user. This precision prevents interference and is way more efficient. This means stations could handle more incoming and outgoing data streams at once. 

    Beamforming also allows the incorporation of more devices than we currently can. 

    5. Full Duplex: Full-duplex works on the concept of reciprocity which can be described as the tendency of radio waves to travel both forward and backward along with the same frequency. 

    This creates a limitation as one wave can travel only in one direction on one path. It works like a walkie talkie in which only one person can speak at a time. 

    Luckily we’ve found ways to overcome that problem with the help of silicon transistors which toggle the paths where the waves would intersect. 

    What can we expect from 5G?

    While 1G,2G,3G, and 4G connected humans together, 5G will connect humans to objects. 

    With 5G’s high speed, superior reliability and negligible latency concepts like autonomous driving and IoT will no longer be just “concepts” but we’ll be able to implement them into our lives. 

    5G companies are really trying to do intense research to make all these things available which were considered science fiction. 

    Following are some of the areas where we can expect to see 5G’s impact-

    1. Autonomous Vehicles: to function well,  the various systems of an autonomous vehicle coordinate together. All the data collected through surroundings and systems are fed into the processor and actions are taken accordingly. Now, this process obviously needs to be fast as the car will be running on roads. 

    5G will help enable this process with the help of the drastically reduced latency. The driver-less vehicle will be able to respond 10-100 times faster than over the current cellular network. 

    2. Smart City Infrastructure: with the help of 5G cities can implement intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and connected vehicle technology. 

    Through connected vehicle technology, the vehicles on the road will be able to communicate with each other and the infrastructure. 

    This will promote a safer transportation system.

    3. IoT: as mentioned above, one of the biggest changes that 5G will bring along is connecting people to objects

    This will not only mean a fully smart home but also industrial automation and many more possibilities. 

    Machines in factories and objects at home will be able to communicate with each other and you easily. 

    4. AR and VR: due to the low latency of 5G AR and VR applications will be far more interactive and immersive. This will have used not only in entertainment but also has industrial applications. 

    Through VR goggles one will be able to see the layout of a machine and identify the faulty bits. 

    And of course one would have an otherworldly experience be it watching football or a show with their 5G enabled VR glasses.


    It would be hard to imagine life as it is without these mobile generations. Every generation brought along with it a new era of technological advancements. 

    While we speculate many changes that we’ll see around us with the arrival of 5G, only after it’s complete integration will we be able to see the crazy possibilities that it will bring with it. 

    Till that time we can only track how this latest generation of mobile network evolves and how the current hurdles are overcome. 

    Author bio: Oorja Pandya is a Marketing Associate in GreyB Services, a Patent Landscape Service Provider with offices in Singapore, India, and the US.

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