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Waiting for 5G

Waiting for 5G

The drumbeat for 5G is getting louder. By early 2020, we should have commercial 5G deployments, although some are predicting for that to happen that by mid 2019. Since 5G requires a lot of interplay with local governments and some governments can take their sweet time to decide on permits and regulation, mid to late 2020 seems like a better bet. Verizon and ATT are already conducting pilots in a few metro areas.

5G claims 20 times faster download speeds compared to 4G. 20 Gbit/s vs 1Gbit/s. Latency is expected to in 1ms range compared to 30–50 ms for 4G. In terms of connected devices 5G is expected to support 1 million devices per sq km. More details here.

These specs enable these enhanced use cases

  1. Virtual and Augmented Reality
  2. Internet of Things — Smart Homes, Buildings, Fleet Tracking
  3. Ultra low latency and high reliability — Autonomous Vehicles, Drones, Smart Cities

The core wireless technology that enables the enhanced specifications for 5G is use of millimeter wave (MW) spectrum. MW has been chosen to operate at high frequencies (30–300 Ghz). The 5G deployments are expected to use 30–100 Ghz range. MW is super fast, but it’s distance is limited, so it requires antennas that are placed much closer to people and therefore more antennas in a given area. Expect your street utility poles to start sprouting 5G antennas (also called small cells). The chart below shows expected carrier deployments. Verizon has the lead position among carriers for 5G.

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