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Albion Communication

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5G and what it is… Is it going to allow me to stream ‘Match of the Day’ in 1080p whilst waiting for the next tube train on the northern line? Well, apparently not…..yet!

Although promising huge increases in data throughput and reduced latency, the uses of 5G technology other than for mobile telephony becomes more exciting for many industries and their applications. In fact, development is well under way on technology such as vehicular communication (and control), virtual reality and many industrial applications, such as factory robotics or the internet of things (i.e. the use of a lower data rates for monitoring equipment, such as utility meter reading or asset tracking).

However, multiple hurdles are still yet to be overcome and as the spectrum is allocated out to the networks it means the right balance between shared space and private space still must be found.

The high-speed data promised uses a bandwidth within the mmWave spectrum, but this holds many engineering challenges as well as physical ones.

Because of the frequencies adopted by this 5G service it requires multiple antennae to perform seamlessly, but as you can imagine there are obvious space issues when trying to incorporate multiple antenna arrays for diversity into the new 5G handsets being made available by manufacturers.

One of the key features of 5G is the use of beamforming which can be applied at any bandwidth but does require multiple antennae – the base station most likely having a larger number than the mobile device. Beamforming allows spatial diversity which overcomes the path loss at the mmWave frequencies.

Trials are already underway and will be completed and the Government expects the majority of the population to have 5G coverage by 2027. Initially, the lower frequency bands will be used.

The cities that will get 5G first are Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Bristol.

From a user’s perspective 5G is going to provide a Quicker, Faster and Better user experience and it shouldn’t be any more expensive to use as the cost of data usage continues to fall, but on the flip side the handset design is going to be a lot more interesting and potentially more complex to solve with the large number of frequency bands possibly required to work with 5G .

In some areas of industry and consumer land you may find that 5G may even replace Wi-Fi as the standard use for indoor connectivity, which means that 5G modems may start to be incorporated into laptops and tablets in future.

So, zooming fast forward into the future and 5G is fully functioning, the likely changes that most of us would see are Millennials demanding their business adopt and embrace the tech they use every weekend and evening to communicate with their friends and loved ones…I can see it now, my 78 year old mother with her VR headset on walking the dog with my brother the other side of the pond in Milwaukee…that’s how joined up and inclusive this technology will make the world… And to put the cherry on the cake, you can stream HD video to your phone, your car may be able to navigate and self-drive (hopefully not crashing), and separating your kids from the VR headsets becomes impossible to do! ….. But on the flipside that may mean that I no longer require that large box of USB…HDMI…DVI and ethernet cables that I currently use to connect everything together!

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