I talked a bit about 5G a few weeks ago and how the technology works and it’s always exciting when a new evolution of mobile network gets launched.  However unlike it’s predecessors, 5G is actually going to be a real game changer.

The evolution of mobile

When we first started using our mobile phones I remember they literally had Modems in them, just like your PC.  Super slow, paid for by the minute and it was only those super geeks amongst us that used mobile internet services to check our emails and to maybe update a calendar.  yes, before you ask I was one of those, using my Nokia 6110 to connect my HP Jornada and later iPaq up!

Then came 2G or GPRS which changed the game slightly because it was recognised that we were firstly using our mobile devices in a different and we needed a technology that would fit.  So, 2G was packet based, charged for by the MB, not by the time you were connected and it was designed to auto connect when needed.

However, despite the very first iPhone being a GPRS device, it really underlined that we were starting to unlock the true potential of mobile devices.  3G was released, a far superior technology to GPRS, with a new way of connecting with better stability, quality and range and, most essentially to you and me, super fast speeds.  Various iterations of 3G were released over the years giving speeds of 256KBPs up to the later 7MB+ per second speeds of 3.9 G or HPA+.

Mobile connection technology was trying to keep pace with what we wanted from our mobile devices and 3G was allowing us to use maps, navigate, check email, enjoy social media and more.

Mobile device demands have changed over the years

Mobile device demands have changed over the years

However that wasn’t enough.  We were starting to stream movies, watch, capture and share ultra HD video and 13MP camera images so 4G was born to cope with not only the demands of data we now have but to also help with better connection so we quite literally have huge bandwidths at our disposal when we need them.  4G is technically supposed to give us 100MBPs speeds and over the years I’ve used  EE’s service I can honestly say I have seen it grow from 15 up to about 60MBPs today.

However today we need more…

The IOT revolution

The above is all well and good but another revolution is happening right now, all around us and that’s the IOT revolution.  IOT or the “Internet of things” is basically removing the human element form what we do.  Have a think for a moment.  With a mobile phone or tablet, we as the user will get the device out, login in and then pull what we need.  We do this frequently and most of the time we check and do nothing.  For example, take my LIFX IOT lightbulb platform that I have installed in my home.  Because IOT is still in it’s version 1, it doesn’t work a lot of the time!! so I spend a lot time checking iof lights are on, switching them on and off when needed and also checking schedules have worked too.  Wouldn’t it be better if these things just learned and switched on and off when needed by themselves?  It would be far better if when I wanted to lift some weights in my home gym, that the lights would not only switch on, but also adjust the colour and tone to ensure I was stimulated better for exercise?

Well that’s IOT to me.  Rather than having multiple apps on your phone all expecting your input.  Why not have all these gadgets and gizmos talk to each other and do what’s needed at the right times!  Sound like Star trek to you…well I think in many ways this goes beyond even that!

4G and IOT don’t work!

There’s one problem with 4G and IOT and it turns out that it’s nothing to do with speed and bandwidth at all.  In fact there are many revolutions just waiting to happen in our world today all relaying on the same thing and it’s all about “latency”.

The problem with 4G and those technologies before them is that they served a need and that need was largely bandwidth that was enabling bandwidth hungry solutions like media consumption.  However, today, many technologies aren’t really sending that much data about.

IOT is growing super fastIOT is growing super fast

So whats the issue then?

Well the issue is that a system built to handle large bandwidth has proven not so great at dealing with lots of smaller chunks of data.  4G and especially 3G and GPRS technologies got better at it but the truth is that they are nowhere near when it comes to connecting and immediately trying to send and receive key data in real time.  This is essentially known as latency.

So 5G is trying to remedy this by bringing super low latency to its network.  But, because we’re not going to just stop watching our movies and sharing huge amounts of data online from our mobile handhelds, we still need bandwidth.  Well 5G is fine with that as its theoretical speeds are going to be a massive 1000MBPs too.

So, 5G is going to be a real game changed as it’s going to offer the platform that will allow a lot of technologies in their experimental phases today to work in reality for us every day.

What i’ll do is talk about this in the next article.

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