If you have just managed to get your hands on a Reliance Jio SIM and you are impressed with its fast LTE network, you may be thinking that it’s got all the speed you will ever need.
Well, think again. Because in the next five years or so, the world is moving towards the incredibly fast 5G mobile network, and connectivity is going to transform, yet again.
What is 5G Mobile Network?
In mobile communication terminology, the letter G stands for generation. Technology is considered to be “Next Generation” when it achieves a significant paradigm shift in the existing technology.
Statistical analysis shows that communication technology enters a new generation every decade. So far, the world has witnessed four major generations in mobile communications.
The First Generation (1G)
Started in the 1980’s, when cellular networks were first introduced to the world. The system was all-analog, with no support for data. India got its first 1G cellular network in 1995.
The Second generation (2G)
Started in the mid-1990s, when the analog systems were replaced by digital systems, with support for mobile data. A 2G network allowed internet speed of about 64 kilobits per second with GPRS, and up to 1 megabits (125 kilobytes) per second with EDGE. India started rolling out 2G networks in 2002. A large part of developing the world is still using this.
The Third generation (3G)
started around 2009 in India. 3G technology allowed data transmission at a much faster speed of up to 3 megabytes per second. 3G started a revolution in the smartphone world. From simple video calling to running a complex business like Uber, everything suddenly became possible because of 3G.
The Fourth generation (4G)
Has just started in India. Though Airtel started 4G service in India in 2012 using the existing GSM infrastructure, it’s only in 2016 when India got its first true hi-tech 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) services, with the introduction of Reliance Jio.
What makes 4G LTE a new generation is that apart from the ability to provide superfast data speed of up to 1 gigabits (125 megabytes) per second, LTE also transmits the standard voice calls over the internet (rather than using a regular GSM network). This technology is called Voice over LTE or VoLTE. This is the reason why you need a VoLTE enabled smartphone to make a voice call from a Jio SIM. And because voice calls are transmitted as data over the internet, Jio can make outgoing calls completely free, sans the overhead on GSM infrastructure for voice calls.
So what does 5G have in store?
5G will have a breakneck data speed of more than 8 Gigabits (1 Gigabytes) per second. With this speed, downloading a full HD movie on your smartphone will take less than 2 seconds.
How will 5G change the world?
5G is not only about faster internet speeds. 5G will enable applications to perform time critical operations, which are challenging with the current 4G network. For example, self-driving cars.
In the near future, automated vehicles will communicate to each other, and each vehicle will be aware of the distance and relative velocity of the nearby vehicles. If one vehicle applies a sudden brake, the vehicles around it need to know that in split seconds, to avoid a disaster. With 5G, the response time of the vehicles will be ten times faster than a 4G network.
Image credit: Leicester Contemporary Art Group
5G will start a new era of Internet of Things (IOT).
Currently, internet access is somewhat limited to computers and smartphones. IOT will connect billions of smart appliances to the web. For example, your home air conditioner will be able to locate your car and will switch on automatically when the car is within a certain radius of your home. Your doorbell will be able to scan a fingerprint and alert you if a match is found in a criminal database.
Currently, there are about 6 billion devices connected to the internet including computers and smartphones. According to experts in Gartner, the IOT will consist of almost 25 billion devices by 2020. With the introduction of 5G, the number of devices may go up to 50 billion in just a decade.
More connected devices mean more volume of data, and the current 4G network is not suitable to handle this much data volume. So, the obvious logical choice is to upgrade the networks to 5G.
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