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5G: Everything Beginners Should Know

Imagine mobile communications where you can transmit data 20 times faster than 4G networks. High speeds will spur the proliferation of unmanned cars, Internet of Things devices, personalized medicine, and augmented reality technologies. The talk about 5G has been discussed for several years and is called revolutionary – but there is no way it will be introduced everywhere. Here is what is known about 5G and when the revolution will come to every smartphone.

Brief History on Wireless Communication

Wireless communication has a long history.

The first generation of 1G came in the 1980s. It was an analog wireless technology with very low data rates of up to 6 kbps. The first cell phones worked on 1G networks, with the help of which you could only make calls. This is how wireless communications developed further:

2G, GSM – 1991. The first digital standard with data rates of up to 9.6 kbit/s. Now conversations were encrypted and it was possible to exchange SMS and MMS messages with files up to 999 KB.

2.5G, GPRS – 2000. Users were the first to be able to access the Internet from cell phones. Data transfer speeds reached 40 kbit/s.

2.75G, EDGE – 2003. The maximum speed increased 10 times – up to 384 kbit/s.

3G – 2000s. The data transfer speed has radically increased to 2 Mbit/s. Users were able to make video calls and use mobile Internet more actively.

4G, LTE – 2010. With a maximum speed of 1 Gbit/s we can listen to music, play free casino online games on any device, and watch movies without downloading them.

How 5G Differs From 4G

The main difference between the fifth-generation networks and 4G is the data transfer speed: 20 Gbit/s vs. 1 Gbit/s at peak loads. 5G users download files at speeds of up to 100 Mbit/sec, while 4G users do not have more than 10 Mbit/sec. For example, in 5G, a “Game of Thrones” episode is downloaded in one minute, while in 4G networks, it takes 11 minutes.

Other advantages of 5G include lower power consumption, low signal delay, higher bandwidth, and going beyond hardware solutions. Many 5G functions are implemented in a software way, not only at the level of physical infrastructure, as in the networks of previous generations.

How a 5G Network Works

The 5G New Radio platform, which operates in two bands, helps make efficient use of frequencies for next-generation network operation:

  • Frequency Range 1 includes frequencies below 6 GHz. It allows a portion of the frequencies of previous generations of communications to be transferred to 5G.
  • Frequency Range 2 is with frequencies in the millimeter band 24-100 GHz. Their work is provided by small cells – new base stations with a small coverage area.

5G networks also operate on millimeter waves, which are less resistant to interference and environmental obstacles. So, when deploying 5G, new base stations – small cells – are needed: it is impossible to use only the infrastructure of previous generations. You don’t have to build your own towers for small cells. They are so compact that they can be installed almost anywhere: on existing towers, streetlights, walls, bus stops,or billboards.

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The Massive Multiple-In Multiple-Out system helps small cells work. Stations are equipped with arrays of antennas that target the signal and serve multiple devices simultaneously. As a result, data rates and signal quality increase, and fewer cells are needed.