The fifth generation of mobile networks is coming, offering speeds up to ten times faster than 4G, huge capacity and ultra-low latency.
With this new, much faster world will come a whole range of opportunities for businesses and connected devices, with Gartner forecasting that the number of connected things in use worldwide will reach 20.8 billion by 2020 as the long-promised Internet of Things (IoT) finally comes to fruition.
The IoT will see vast numbers of inanimate devices using the 5G network – driverless cars, for example, robot surgeons and full-scale smart cities.
With the massive capacity that 5G offers above its 4G predecessor, big data will finally come to the fore, and devices and apps that can gather, analyse and store huge amounts of data in real time will reap the benefits.
5G is expected to debut in 2018, with the first commercial networks available around 2020. Firms are already creating 5G ready devices and technologies.
Data is transmitted by radio waves, which are split into bands dedicated to different types of communications, and part of the excitement around 5G stems from the International Telecommunications Union restructuring of the radio network elements used to transmit data, which will solidify connection speeds and reliability.
The main upsides for both users and businesses will be; vastly improved speed and latency, and the combined effect of these on the user experience.
5G is significantly faster than previous generations – a full HD movie can be downloaded in under 10 seconds. Response times of 1 millisecond compared with around 50 for 4G also means that movies can be played before they have downloaded. For the user, these will combine to give the feeling of limitless bandwidth and a connection that is always available.
Any downsides? There will be challenges for developers, businesses and IT departments alike as they look to make the most of the opportunities 5G offers while being alive to the potential issues of dealing with the volume and storage of data that all of the connected devices will create.
Cost is also uncertain, as the technology is still under construction.
But what is certain is that harnessing the power of big data will be critical to making the most of 5G – so get ready!