You’re sitting on a long-haul train, blissfully distracted streaming something on your phone and suddenly, it stops – we’ve all been there.
But in the not-too-distant future, network speeds will be so fast you’ll be downloading entire television series such as Game of Thrones in high definition in just 10 seconds.
Currently, the compound annual growth rate of data is circa 40%. At times, it has been as high as 70% – and it’s only expected to rise as the IoT ecosystem (made up of smart fridges, cars, wearable devices, factory machines, and even entire cities) grows.
At some point, it’s anticipated that machine type connections will overtake our own usage of the internet.
Anticipating this rise, telcos like Vodafone are preparing to improve the delivery speed of information while reducing latency.
5G is coming
We need faster connection, and 5G is fast – very fast.
5G is expected to become a fundamental part of our digital era – more so than when we moved from 2G to 3G, and 3G to 4G – even if it may appear to the average consumer that nothing has changed.
‘Under the bonnet’, 5G will see the infrastructure of mobile telecommunication change from being hardware-centric – comprising of distributed parts such as mobile phone towers and switch boards – into a system in which switches become decentralised and the equipment in towers become substantially centralised.
A glimpse of the future
In partnership with Nokia, Vodafone recently performed Australia’s first public 5G demonstration to visualise what’s to come in the near future.
The trial showcased two of the many qualities 5G will have: data speed and really low latency.
The data speed demo saw Nokia’s 5G-powered OZO 360-degree virtual reality camera stream 4K video content to a 42-inch screen. The demo showed the transmission of eight simultaneous streams of VR content, while achieving throughput of up to 1.5Gbps, and a possible full speed of 4.5Gbps.
To put this into perspective, the speeds achieved in this particular demo means you could download a Blu-ray 4K video in under 90 seconds, or if a video was in 1080p format, it could be completed in less than 20 seconds.
The other application – my favourite – demonstrated low latency using robotic arms that were challenged to keep a ball stable on a moving platform based on a real-time camera feed. The robots initially failed the challenge because it was receiving video data via 4G at latency of 50ms. But the robots were successful on the second attempt when data speeds were switched to low latency 5G that had latency of only 3ms.
The demonstrations marked the beginning of the possible opportunities of how 5G can be used in the future when it becomes available. It’s clearly going to change the speed of how we work, whether that’s in our daily lives of just wanting to stream a video or for business purposes such as operating a machine.