Every generation of wireless networks generates faster speeds and more functionality to our smartphones
1G brought us the very first cellphones.
2G allowed us to text for the first time.
3G brought us online and
4G delivered us the speeds that we have today.
But as more users come online, 4G networks have just about reached the limit of what they are capable of. A time when users want even more data for their smartphones and devices.
Now we are heading towards 5G, The next generation of wireless. It will be able to handle 1000 times more traffic than today’s networks. 5G will be 10 times faster than the current 4G LTE.
To get an idea of the speeds we are talking about, Imagine downloading a HD movie under a second. 5G will be the backbone for Virtual Reality and Autonomous driving.
The question arises, What exactly is a 5G network? The truth is, Experts can’t really tell what exactly 5G is, Because even they don’t know precisely yet. All we can say is, Right now there are 5 brand new technologies emerging as 5G. They are as follows. Click on the links below to read more about them
- Millimeter Waves
- Small Cell
- Massive MIMO
- Full Duplex
- Millimeter Waves
Your smartphone and other electronics in your home use very specific frequencies on the radio frequency spectrum. Typically those under 6ghz. But these frequencies are starting to get more crowded. Carriers can only only squeeze so many bits of data on the same amount of radio frequency of the spectrum.
As more devices come online we are going to see slow service and more drops in connections. The solution is to open up some new real estate. Researchers are expecting the broadcasting on shorter millimeter waves. Those that fall between 30 and 300 ghz. This section of the spectrum has never been used before for mobile devices and opening this would mean more bandwidth for everyone.
But there is a catch. Millimeter waves cannot travel well through buildings or other obstacles and they tend to be absorbed by plants and rain.
To get around this problem, We will need a new technology called as ‘Small Cell’
- Small Cell Networks
Today’s wireless networks rely on large high power cell towers to broadcast signals over long distances. But remember, Higher frequency millimeter waves have a harder time travelling through obstacles. Which means if you move behind one big obstacle – You lose your signal.
Small Cell networks would solve that problem. Thousands of mini low power base stations would be installed. These base stations would be much closer together than traditional towers. This would make it easier to transmit signals by avoiding obstacles. This would especially be useful in cities.
When a user moves behind a obstacle, His smartphone would automatically switch to a new base station in better range of his device, allowing him to keep his connection
- Massive MIMO
MIMO stands for multiple input multiple output. Today’s 4G base stations have about a dozen posts for antennas that handle all cellular traffic. The massive MIMO base stations can support about a hundred ports.
This could increase the capacity of today’s networks by a factor of 22 or more. Ofcourse massive mimo comes with its own complications. Today’s cellular antennas broadcase signals in every direction at once and all these signals could cause some serious interference. Which brings us to beamforming
Beamforming is like a traffic signalling system for cellular signals. Instead of broadcasting in every direction, It will allow a base station to send a focused stream of data to a specific user. This precision prevents interference and it is way more efficient. That means stations could handle more incoming and outgoing data streams at once.
Here is how it works. Imagine that you are in a cluster of buildings trying to make a phone call. Your signal is bouncing off the buildings and crossing with signals of other users in the area. A massive mimo base station receives all of these signals and keeps a track of the timing and direction of their arrival. It then uses signal processing algorithms to triangulate where exactly is each signal coming from and plots the best transmission route back to each phone.
Sometimes it will also bounce individual packets of data in different directions off buildings and other objects to keep signals from interfering each other. The result is a coherent data stream sent only to you.