Buzzword breakdown: 5G
The way we work is continuing to change, especially in the current COVID-19 landscape. As 5G, the 5th Generation mobile wireless network technology, has officially launched in Australia with the first 5G phones and services now available to the public, it’s important to understand this new technology so that we can utilise its positive attributes and plan for any negative ramifications it may have on business now and in the future.
How it works
5G will be up to ten times faster than 4G networks and, most importantly, has much lower latency. This means the time it takes for a message to leave your device, get to its destination and for a response to return to your device will drop into single digit milliseconds. This is important for everything from fast-paced competitive video games to remotely controlled surgery, or even Zoom meetings with your clients.
The technology has a wide range of different frequency spectra available in its design to serve different usage scenarios.
- mmWave – very high frequency for use in dense urban areas where short-range towers deliver high-speed services
- Sub-6 – this means sub 6GHz, targeting the range of frequencies commonly used by current mobile networks, used in slightly different ways to deliver 5G signals
- Low-band – low-powered, long-range frequencies that will serve Internet of Things (IoT) and other smart devices that may be placed in remote areas
Different devices will support different parts of the network spectrum to suit their needs. Most 5G smartphones will operate across mmWave and Sub-6 parts of the spectrum.
Why it matters
In most respects, 4G was about delivering a faster network than 3G. But 5G is designed to go beyond merely being faster than 4G. The technology aims to not only have data bouncing between devices and network towers, but to also have devices communicating with each other. This makes it a different kind of network and creates new opportunities – and challenges – for how data and network security needs to be managed.
Data will flow between devices and servers, from private networks through to cloud storage, and it will sometimes even use other devices on networks as relay tools to get data back to where it’s needed. These structural differences will make encryption and high-quality business security hygiene more important than ever.
The advantages of 5G lie in its ability for so many more devices to be wirelessly connected to networks. This will enable some of the bigger promises of autonomous transport, remote robotic surgery, and many Internet of Things (IoT) applications to materialise.
Pitfalls and possibilities
If you have ever noticed that 4G drops back to 3G more often than you would like, you may find the same thing happens with 5G – and it could even be a little worse.
The higher power of the new technology may mean there are more ‘dead zones’ to contend with. More towers will be required than for 4G in many areas, so it will take a long time for the final 5G networks to be rolled out across Australia.
Only those with very specific needs for 5G should adopt it quickly. Most businesses and consumers will do well to stay on 4G over the coming years until the right use cases emerge to adopt it.
However, there are plenty of businesses that could benefit from 5G. For example, for those with remotely operated sensors to help manage crops or inventory control, and operators who can take advantage of newly autonomous vehicles and drones, 5G will bring exciting and profitable opportunities.
The information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.