The impact of 5G technology on Telecommunications industry

The evolution of cellular mobile networks – from 2G when text messaging and mobile data were first offered at the kbps scale, to 3G where faster transmission of data including the ability to video call was available, to 4G which offered even higher data transmission rates at the mbps scale – has resulted in a tremendous growth of the telecommunications industry. With this growth, we have seen greater traffic in cellular mobile networks which, between 2012 and 2016, increased at a compound annual growth rate of 78% [1]. While managing high mobile traffic remains challenging for telecoms companies, the industry is now meeting demands for high data transmission rates with its incoming 5G technology.

5G – the fifth generation of the cellular mobile networks – is expected to release in 2019 and 2020. Built upon the success of 2G and 3G, 5G is expected to bring about a revolution in not just the telecommunications industry, but also advance technologies incorporating IoT (Internet of Things). Moving from the lab to our wireless networks next year, 5G is expected to create strides in the development of smart cities, autonomous vehicles and provide remote healthcare. 5G will enable disruptive technologies to enter the market, including the development of augmented and virtual reality projects.  

Spectacular speed

While 4G can reach speeds up to 100 mbps, it is expected that 5G will enable speeds up to 10,000 mbps, changing the scale at which telecommunications currently operates at. With more power and improved efficiency, 5G may be the pathway towards connecting the world with greater ease, allowing for HD and ultra HD video streaming at faster rates. In addition to improving broadband speed in an era of ever-increasing mobile traffic, 5G will improve user experience while augmenting current LTE (long-term evolution) networks and perhaps even completely replace them in the future.

5G may be a solution to some of the challenges the telecommunications industry currently faces, including the growth in data consumption, resulting from an increase in the use of mobile phones and other devices utilising mobile data. With 5G, mobile operators are aiming to reduce the cost of data delivery which aims to improve the overall efficiency of providing data to customers. 5G will also focus on connecting machines through IoT, however, this is an area which will need further development from the current 5G standard that is being released next year.

The expectation

The onset of the 3G mobile network brought about GPS (Global Positioning System), allowing businesses such as Uber and Deliveroo to offer services that quickly became game-changers in their respective markets. 5G is expected to offer even greater speeds of up to gigabyte per second rates which will enhance the overall user experience. While 5G promises to be nothing less than a universal access network, it is still uncertain how far will it live up to this promise and how quickly it may be adopted by network providers worldwide. While wireless internet has had a great impact on the growth of mobile data users, pointing to the need for higher speeds and efficiency, the real challenge for the adoption of 5G by cellular networks will be in the management of data traffic, for which the telecommunications industry is now preparing for a 1000-fold increase in by 2020 [1].

[1] S. Chen and J. Zhao, “The requirements, challenges, and technologies for 5G of terrestrial mobile telecommunication,” IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 52, no. 5, pp. 36–43, 2014.