The Coming of 5G and the Growth of Workplace Mobility

  • Ron Callari
  • 2/7/2017 2:45:29 AM

When it happens, the emergence of 5G in 2017 will only contribute to the growth of mobility in the workplace.

As our need for data and data usage increases, we will see exponential leaps forward in wireless technologies. With our mobile devices, we have already witnessed four different generations. Currently the most up-to-date mobile networks utilize 4G, with speeds that travel quicker than many of our WiFi connections. So can we go faster with 5G?

Generationally, what came before?

To understand the advantages of moving to a 5G system, it’s important to put it in context, as to what went before.

4G is the fourth generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology, succeeding 3G. As new iterations go, new generations of mobile connectivity is primarily all about improving how fast transmissions can be sent and received.

The nomenclature of ‘generations’ generally refers to a change in the fundamental nature of the service, non-backwards-compatible transmission technology, higher peak bit rates, new frequency bands, wider channel frequency bandwidth in Hertz, and higher capacity for multiple simultaneous data transfers.

New mobile generations are enhanced about every ten years since the first move from 1981 analog (1G) to digital (2G) transmissions in 1992.

This was followed, in 2001, by 3G’s multi-media support and spread spectrum transmission. At that time there was a 200 kbit/s peak bit rate. In 2011, next came the “real” 4G, which refers to all-Internet Protocol (IP) packet-switched networks giving mobile ultra-broadband (gigabit speed) access.

4G is another term for Long Term Evolution [LTE] technology, which was an evolution from the previous 3G wireless standard.

It’s an advanced form of 3G that marks a dramatic shift from hybrid data to a data-only IP network.

According to one expert, by 2020, 85 percent of the world will have at least a 3G connection, while 60 percent will be on 4G.

Why 5G?

Well, for one because we can. Secondly, we always are looking for better methods of moving faster.  And third, it’s getting a jump on the next new shiny thing – namely the Internet of Things [IoT].

In addition to IoT, the 2–12 Mbps speed currently provided by 4G/LTE will not be enough, especially if we take into consideration the latest technological advancements, such as Ultra High Definition [UHD] videos and Virtual Reality [VR].

While some are saying that the upgrade to 5G will not be fully operational until 2020, the programmers and coders around the world are fast at work perfecting the technology to see if they can move that date closer.

The upgrade to 5G will be much more expansive than what we are currently use to with 4G. It will better attend to our need for speed and the ease of connecting to multiple devices [e.g. appliances, cars, smart homes, etc.] To accomplish this, the new service has to come part and parcel with artificial intelligence that will understand the situation and context it finds itself, both at work and in our homes.

Telecoms jumping on the 5G bandwagon

Verizon wants to be the first telecom operator to deliver fixed 5G wireless services to homes in the US, possible as soon as 2018. They already completed technical and lab trials in 2016, and will use 2017 to prepare for its subsequent launch into the field.

AT&T is shuttering its 2G network for good, according to new reports. This is unfortunate news for users still using the original iPhone, which for sure is now raggedy by current standards. Surely, though, very few phones are still clinging to the aged 2G network. Hence, the move comes as a rational, if somber, move forward.

AT&T says that soon it will be also be taking their 5G bandwidth tests it was making in labs out into the field, with Intel and Ericsson serving as partners in this venture. But no official date has been announced.

VoIP with the speed of light

5G will be a godsend for VoIP users, who are always looking for faster, more reliable Internet service that will be able to handle an exponential amount of data, with enhanced quality of service. Since VoIP uses a protocol that mainly focuses on keeping the connection stream uninterrupted from packet losses, jitters and disconnections, 5G will streamline the process to a greater extent.

With an increased upload speed [speculated to be at least 10GBps] 5G calls will virtually have uninterrupted calls.

The current 4G wireless network is transmitted through massive cell towers capable of sending signals over far distances but at the cost of leaving so-called blind spots behind. 5G signals will be transmitted through multiple smaller network cells that will blanket entire areas like a very thick spider web producing an enhanced transmission.

Video conferencing will also improve immensely. With the ability to integrate VR and IoT into those calls, 5G will truly provide users with the experience of feeling that you and your callers are literally sitting in the same room.

When can we get 5G?

While the 5G launch dates mentioned in this blog may be as early as 2018 — if Verizon stays on track — others say the next generation of wireless will require infrastructural changes that may take years — so 2020 is probably the safer bet as to a start date.

The emerging standard that distinguishes 5G will include a mix of different frequencies, technologies and approaches. And some will require radically new ways of building wireless networks.

The shift from big cell towers that blanket entire neighborhoods in wireless signals to thousands of cell towers within single buildings and even rooms is a major difference.

This technical criteria will set up new parameters unseen before.

Just as 5G involves some novel technologies, it raises some novel policy issues,

noted Richard Adler, a fellow at think tank Institute for the Future.

State and local governments are going to need to get involved with issues like permitting, zoning that go way beyond zoning cell towers.

While it will take some time, make no mistake, 5G is coming. Creating a new, super-quick wireless network may take work, but it’s what consumers are wanting. Once here, we’ll enter a new phase of connectivity where buffering will go the way of the old landline telephones.

Ron is a blogger at Telzio, covering business, technology, and mobile trends. Previously a Director of Advertising and Public Relations at Marriott International, Ron has published several books including the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.