As 4G mobile Internet matures across the world, many are now exploring when and how 5G will transform their local market. China is no different, although 5G plans are now so advanced in China that it is easy to argue that China has the most advanced telecoms environment in the world.
But what will 5G offer beyond just more network speed? As we moved from 2G to 3G, then 4G the noticeable difference each time was the increase in available bandwidth – the network got faster and easier to use as we passed through each generation. 5G will bring another increase in speed, but there are several other important benefits too, such as:
- Node density; the ability to connect to millions of devices inside a single square kilometer – this allows many devices to all be close together and able to communicate, the opposite of how we currently experience 4G.
- Connection latency; connections take less than 1 millisecond, instead of 50. That’s not noticeable by a human, but if your connection cannot possibly be broken – for instance a surgeon remotely controlling a robot hand – then this is essential.
- Data transfer; with speeds of around 10Tbps data can be transferred hundreds of times faster than with any existing 4G connection.
It’s not just the speed that will change how mobile services are used, the latency increase in particular will enable many more devices to become connected. We are no longer talking about just phones being connected to the Internet – almost every electronic device is now being connected.
5G will lead to many changes in the way that mobile data is used. Streaming movies and video calls might be the most immediately noticeable, but the Internet of Things (IoT) will be an important beneficiary. After all, as the number of connected devices increases exponentially it will be essential to have better connectivity.
China is leading many of these 5G developments. The Chinese government expects that the first 5G-enabled smartphones will be available inside this year and several trials have already been completed. The Made In China 2025 plan specifically highlights the importance of being a world leader in 5G technologies because to lead in 5G means to also be a world-leader in smart-city technologies.
The Chinese government and technology industry have all accepted that 5G can be a catalyst to leadership in several other industries. They are delivering the infrastructure while the question still stands as to why more speed is required. 5G is about far more than network speed and China will demonstrate this to the world later this year.
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