5G: A Telecommunication Revolution?

WorldTeleCom_Info_Society_Day

On the 50th anniversary of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, we look to the future of the telecommunications industry and explore the technology poised to transform the world as we know it.

With South Korea becoming the first nation to roll out 5G on a large-scale last month, all eyes are on the fifth generation mobile network this World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. Although many milestone developments in ICT have set the world alight in recent years, perhaps none have been so eagerly anticipated as the launch of 5G.  Expected to revolutionise the ways in which we perceive, engage and interact with technology, just how exactly will this latest advance in wireless communications shape, enhance and disrupt our everyday lives?

A quantum leap that will bring an era of radically new possibilities across all areas of technology’: the words of Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, ring loudly a month on from the US telecom giant’s deployment of its 5G mobile service in Chicago and Minneapolis, hot on the heels of South Korea’s breakthrough foray into next-generation wireless technology.

So, what exactly is 5G?

Simply put, it is the fifth generation of mobile broadband that is set, in time, to replace the 4G cellular technology our mobile devices currently operate on. This next generation boasts estimated mobile speeds of more than 10 gigabits per second – approximately a hundred times faster than current 4G speeds – and latency, the delay between command and response, of less than a millisecond.

This means that smartphone users will be able to download feature-length HD movies in a matter of seconds and enjoy videos, including virtual reality ones, free from the pain of having to endure buffer screen after buffer screen. Even more excitingly, 5G may finally bring our sci-fi dreams from the 1970s to life by enabling us to make holographic calls in the not too distant future.

Yet 5G signifies much more than how quickly we can stream the latest episode of our favourite TV show on our mobile. Due to its promise of increased connectivity and automation, 5G will accelerate the development and widespread adoption of many up-and-coming innovations that are currently confined to the periphery of public consciousness, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities and autonomous vehicles. It is within these advances that 5G possesses the greatest potential to radically overhaul the global technological landscape and, more importantly, our everyday lives.

For example, 5G may pave the way for increased work from home opportunities, making jobs that were previously impossible to perform outside the place of work suddenly very possible. Being able to operate machinery remotely and surgeons having the technological capabilities to perform life-saving operations on patients situated thousands of miles away are now very real possibilities because of 5G. And even when you do have to commute to work, the near-instantaneous response times of self-driving cars will ensure that journeys are safer and faster than ever before.

With most countries expected to have next generation wireless networks by 2020, only time will tell if 5G can fulfil its destiny of changing the world as we know it. One thing, however, is for certain: 5G can no longer be brushed aside as a distant vision of the future – governments, industries and societies alike must confront, adapt and embrace emerging technology in order to benefit from the ‘radically new possibilities’ that 5G undoubtedly brings to our lives.

We asked Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing researchers to discuss the impact 5G will have on their field of study.

Professor Jaime Lloret, Lead Guest Editor of the Special Issue on ‘Wireless Technologies for Smart Cities’:

This Special Issue seeks to demonstrate how smart cities are becoming a reality due to the latest advances in the IoT and wireless technologies like 5G. They are enabling the development of many new applications and services that enhance humans’ quality of life, while also addressing important priorities such as the real-time tracking, security, authentication, and availability of classified information for decision makers.”

Professor Shangguang Wang, Author of ‘A Survey on Vehicular Edge Computing: Architecture, Applications, Technical Issues, and Future Directions’:

“5G technology can overcome the problem of extreme growth in vehicular terminals and mobile data traffic more effectively. This Review Article therefore explores how 5G software defined vehicular networks have the potential to provide maximum flexibility and compatibility for the demands of future pilotless vehicles and ITSs.”

Professor Fadi Al-Turjman, Lead Guest Editor of the Special Issue on ‘The Green Internet of Things’:

“Within a few years, we will be surrounded by a massive number of sensors, devices, and ‘things’, which will be able to communicate via 5G, act ‘intelligently’, and provide green support for users in managing their tasks. Considering this vision, the aim of this Special Issue was to focus on both the theoretical and implementational aspects of green next generation networks.”

Shao-Yu Lien, Lead Guest Editor of the Special Issue on ‘Recent Advances in 5G Technologies: New Radio Access and Networking’:

“Instead of solely boosting data rates, like past evaluations such as IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced, an IMT-2020 system shall support the 20 Gbps peak data rate, 100 Mbps user experienced data rate, 10 Mbps/m2 area traffic capacity, 106 devices/km2 connection density, 1 ms latency, and 500 km/hr mobility. This Special Issue thus brings together state-of-the-art research discussing New Radio access technology, including radio frequency designs for 5G.”

Captivated by 5G? Keep up-to-date on the latest developments in telecommunications with Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing.


Danielle Munday is Publishing Editor at Hindawi. This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). The illustration is by Hindawi and is also CC-BY.