Chris DeMartino

Looking Ahead to 5G

As interest in 5G wireless technology continues to increase, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has chosen a formal name for the upcoming next-generation cellular system. IMT-2020 is now the official name for the 5G standard, following in the footsteps of IMT-2000 (3G) and IMT-Advanced (4G). The ITU has also established a timeline for the development of 5G for the next five years, expecting completion to be in 2020.

The news from the ITU proves that the plan for 5G to be a reality by 2020 is coming together. However, many of the remaining details in regards to 5G are still open to speculation. Technical performance requirements still need to be established.

Although the details of 5G haven’t been decided, speculation is growing that data speeds will be as fast as 20 Gbps. With the significantly faster data speeds that 5G will provide, people will be able to download a full-length HD movie in a matter of seconds. In addition to data speed, 5G provides other benefits. 5G will provide significantly lower latency than 4G networks. And with the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), a network will be needed that can accommodate billions of connected devices. 5G aims to provide that capacity as well as the capability to assign bandwidth depending on user and application needs.

With all of this being said, there are many reasons to be eager for 5G. Many of the possibilities with 5G don’t even seem believable now. At this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), it was demonstrated how 5G could be used to control heavy machinery from a remote location. This is only one possible capability of 5G. A demonstration of 5G technology is expected to take place at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

 With the anticipation surrounding 5G, many efforts focusing on 5G technology are already underway. National Instruments, for example, is collaborating with top researchers to focus on 5G technology. Because massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) is a candidate for 5G technology, National Instruments and researchers from Lund University have developed a massive MIMO system in an effort to further 5G research. Keysight Technologies has also introduced a flexible testbed for 5G waveform generation and analysis.

These are just some examples of the current activity that will bring 5G from theory to reality. It will be extremely interesting to watch the latest 5G developments unfold before us. Although it may seem far away, the next generation will be here sooner than we all think.

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