Technology

What is 5G and how to prepare your app for next-generation networks?

Marlena Walburg

The introduction of the 5G network raises plenty of various emotions. We are bombarded with ads of mobile operators who already offer this standard. Lots of noise, but why exactly? Many people do not know what 5G actually is, hence some confusion and the emergence of conspiracy theories on this topic. Since it is such a hot trend that will also influence the app development industry, there is nothing else to do but take a closer look at 5G. 

What is 5G?

5G is the technological standard for mobile broadband and the successor to the 4G network. Mobile phone companies began introducing it around the world in 2019. Like its predecessors, 5G networks are cellular networks where the service area is broken down into small geographic areas called cells. All 5G wireless devices in the cell are connected to the Internet and the telephone network via radio waves through the local antenna in the cell. The fifth-generation mobile technology includes a system standard that must meet the requirements of the International Telecommunications Union. These assumptions include performance and application requirements that the fifth-generation system must support.

Key performance requirements defined by ITU for 5G networks:

  • throughput up to 20 Gb/s on the link to the terminal (download);
  • up to 10 Gb/s throughputs on a link to the network (upload);
  • 4 ms latency for eMBB applications and 1 ms for URLLC applications;
  • spectral efficiency up to 30 bit/s/Hz;
  • the error rate for using URLLC level  10−5.

What will these slightly scary-sounding terms translate to? Generally, 5G is designed to manage very large increases in data transmission and the number of calls. The main advantage of 5G is higher bandwidth, resulting in higher download speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second. This not only opens up new opportunities in the internet services market by competing with existing internet service providers but also enables new applications in such areas as the Internet of Things (IoT) and future innovation. This increased speed is achieved in part by the use of higher frequency radio waves than in previous network standards. Such waves, however, have a smaller usable physical range, requiring smaller geographic cells. For broad services, 5G networks operate in up to three frequency bands – low, medium and high. A 5G network will consist of networks of up to three different types of cells and will also provide a different trade-off between download speed, distance and service area. 5G mobile phones and wireless devices connect to the network through the highest-speed antenna within range at their location.

Why does 5G matter?

5G will provide speed, low latency and connectivity that will enable the emergence of a new generation of previously unknown solutions, services and development opportunities. It will usher in the next phase of the digital transformation of businesses across the economy. The features of 5G will make monitoring large amounts of data more profitable, reliable and secure. This will allow receiving detailed data in real-time, which will affect faster decision-making and speed up processes. There is also a lot of talk about the use of 5G for connectivity between machines. This technology will be able to provide a new level of automation and remote control and re-transmit information in real-time. This will provide more and more optimization of the autonomous operations of machines and their immediate response to events. Immediately there are new applications in the supply chain, where 5G connectivity will improve coordination between individual units and speed up processes. This, in turn, will translate into greater efficiency as well as better customer service. Let’s also not forget that 5G will enable mobile operators to meet the rapidly growing demand for mobile data traffic.

5G vs. LTE vs. 4G

First, let’s start by explaining the terms 4G and LTE, as they are sometimes used interchangeably. 

4G stands for the fourth generation of mobile telephony,  the predecessor of the 5G in question. 

LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the name of the technology through which data transmission in the 4G network takes place. 

5G relies on 4G wireless networks but also introduces new technology and a wider range of radio frequencies. 5G towers and transmitters use more antennas and higher frequency radio bands, opening up the radio waves for faster speeds and faster response times. The advantages of 5G over 4G are:

  • Better data transfer speed;
  • Lower latency;
  • Increased wireless power;
  • Less energy consumption (consumption of the mobile device’s battery);
  • Greater precision thanks to higher radio waves.

How to prepare a business for the 5G network?

Businesses that want to get the most out of 5G need to start investing in engineers experienced in creating and securing IoT networks but also in the right specialists in big data analytics. Networks will be able to collect and manage more data much faster now. To get maximum insight into this data and use it beneficially, you will require data engineers and scientists to properly examine information. Companies may also need additional engineers to rebuild their supply chains and enterprise infrastructure. This will require a budget for new equipment, machinery and specialists, so consider and be prepared to manage your expenses wisely. Fortunately, these investments will quickly pay off and bring new profits thanks to the much better performance and speed of 5G. 

What are the benefits of 5G?

Higher transmission speed

5G allows achieving transmission speeds of up to 20 Gb/s. This, of course, gives you much faster access to data and files. Considering the growing importance of the cloud, 5G will provide more effective use of it, and the cloud itself will be able to make demanding calculations. This will reduce the need to install multiple processors on the device.

Lower latency

5G reduces latency up to ten times compared to 4G. As a reminder, the latency is the time that elapses between issuing the command (input) and the execution of the action (output). This helps to implement remotely operated devices like precision medical instruments that will be reliable thanks to a shorter delay.

Increased potential of the Internet of Things

Thanks to 5G, IoT technology can achieve greater productivity. This means that the number of devices that can be connected to the network is bigger. All connected devices can communicate with each other in real-time and exchange information. More and more consumers and businesses are striving to create such comprehensive systems. 5G enables the successful execution of these concepts. 

How 5G will change different industries?

5G will bring many changes. Better efficiency of data transmission and the speed of their transfer between applications or servers opens up opportunities for many industries. Here are some examples of industries that could be influenced by the advent of 5G.

Transport

5G helps to achieve higher automation and autonomy of machines and vehicles, as we have already mentioned. In the transport industry, this means greater productivity of transport fleets as well as higher use of independent autonomous vehicles. 5G by offering faster connections with reduced latency improves navigation functions, and by sending data to the central system faster, helps in the navigation of the vehicle. Besides, it will be more and more effective to use driver assistance systems such as Safeway. The transmission of data on vehicle condition, incidents, speed, kilometres travelled, and more will be faster, which will allow for immediate reaction and increase safety.

Manufacturing and supply chain

As in transport, production and the supply chain, we can count on greater automation and faster data transfer. Also, connecting machines and a specific system using IoT technology will help create smart factories. Such a system requiring high-speed, low-latency connections to perform operations will be able to perform tasks faster and more accurately thanks to 5G without any problems. The 5G standard will also help build a more secure corporate network by reducing the number of cabling and potential overload. Also, in the supply chain sector, where manufacturing is part of the process, 5G will be an innovation that will accelerate all operations.

Healthcare
The medical industry is one of the most in need of digital transformation. Fortunately, we can see more and more progress in this sector. As medical service providers become more advanced, they will need technological solutions to quickly examine and respond to information in real-time. 5G can help patients who need devices to monitor their vital functions and transmit this information to healthcare professionals, enabling them to take immediate action in an emergency. Patients diagnostics will also be more effective – an improved, fast 5G network will enable doctors to quickly access laboratory data. Also, much lower delays will help to use smart devices to perform remote surgeries. 

How should app developers prepare for 5G conversion?

Due to the low latency and much higher speed and bandwidth, it is expected that the performance of the application will increase. They will deliver such an experience as is currently possible on WiFi. 5G-prepared applications can use more complex elements that consume a lot of data, such as videos, extensive animations, etc. Also, you can certainly expect the evolution of IoT, AR/VR technologies, the higher use of artificial intelligence, and many other innovations. Therefore, developers certainly need to bear in mind the direction in which mobile applications will slowly move, at least in part. 5G is also about upcoming security challenges – the number of connected devices can also increase at a higher speed, which could create potential security gaps. You should also bear in mind that not everyone will be using 5G right away. Not all mobile devices are ready to support this standard, so many users will need applications that operate on 4G or lower. App developers will have to take this into account. To briefly sum up – 5G is a challenge for developers and an opportunity to create fantastic new ideas for applications and self-development. It is worth taking an interest in technologies that are increasingly in demand on the mobile application market.

Future of the 5G network

5G will certainly be more than just faster mobile internet. Its development will be a catalyst for the emergence of IoT systems such as smart cities, houses, factories, etc. The networks will be more energy-efficient, reliable and resilient. The future of 5G is a growing demand for software and telecommunications engineers who will meet the challenges of the new standard. We can expect numerous investments in 5G infrastructure. For now, in the coming years, 5G will not replace 4G, with which it still works and partially uses 4G transmitters. However, businesses that want to use the potential of 5G now have a chance. Contact our experts and find out how your business can benefit from the perks of 5G.

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