IN THE summer of 2011, the 4th generation mobile network "Long Term Evolution (LTE)" went on the market for the first time in South Korea. Since then, mobile networks have been upgraded almost every year from “LTE-A,” to “broadband LTE”, and recently to the “3-band LTE”. In 2011, the maximum data download speed was 75 megabits per second (Mbps). Now the speed reaches 300 Mbps, a data rate that can download an entire movie in about 20 seconds. While the term LTE is finally becoming familiar to the public, the telecommunications industry is already talking about yet another term — 5th generation mobile network (5G).
Taking the industry on a journey
Trusted Review* defines 5G as the forthcoming 5th generation of mobile network technology. Wireless phone technology technically started with 1G in the early 1990s. It expanded to 2G when industries first started enabling people to send text messages between two cellular devices. Eventually the world moved on to 3G, which gave people the ability to make phone calls, send text messages, and browse the internet. With the emergence of smartphones, 4G technology was developed and enhanced. The data rates of 4G technology is about 4 to 5 times faster than that of 3G technology.
5G is a new network system that has higher speed and capacity, with a much lower latency time than existing cellular systems. Not only does it allows people to make calls and browse the web, but also expands connectivity density and thedata rate exponentially. For instance, 5G will make it easier for people to download and upload Ultra HD and 3D videos with high data volume. Also, it will make space for thousands of internet-connected devices to enter people’s everyday world.
The 5G systemhas been designed especially in consideration of the end-to-end latency time. End-to-end latency is the amount of time it takes between one’s action and the response showing up on the screen. In the future, a variety of real-time interactive multimedia services such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and real-time online games services will increase. In order to use these services and experience the natural interaction of 5G technology, it is necessary to provide the low-latency time of 5G system services. In general, the auditory information that a person senses when he or she receives audiovisual information through the media should be delivered within about 100 ms, and the visual information should be delivered within an allowable delay time of about 10 ms. 5G technology will increase the authenticity of technologyservices as its latency time is less than 1ms.
The necessity of the 5G network
One of the major reasons why 5G will inevitably emerge is the need for more capacity in order to accommodate Internet of Things (IoT) devices. According to the Kaspersky Lab, it is predicted that every household will soon have more than one hundred "smart" connected devices that can be connected to other appliances, such as refrigerators and TVs. This approach is called the Massive Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) which indicates a client device that simultaneously connects to a number of transceivers. The cumulative bandwidth, which helps to cope with the fast data volume growth, will be several dozen Gigabits per second (Gbps) for uses of sufficient quantity and quality amongnumerous devices, especially when located indoors, where the majority of connected devices tend to be.
Additionally, economic growth is expected due to the revival of additional industries that deal with internet security and hacking issues. Michael Nunez, the technology editor of Gizmodo, noted that the higher connectivity of the 5G system also has sparked a boom in data security industry. As the high connectivity of 5G systems requires continuous access between internet-based data centers and personal devices, the possibility for criminals to hijack data or hack a device also increases. Nunez addedthat due to these data safety issues, the 5G system will activate such data security industry.
The 5G race
There has been no publicly agreed upon standard for the 5G networks. When the patented telecommunication technology gets recognized as the international standard for 5G, it will bring huge economic benefits. The long-running patent dispute between Apple and Samsung underscores the importance of standard patents. As noted by Dr. Choi Chang-sun of the SK Telecom Research Institute in an interview with *the Hankyoreh*, “Samsung Electronics” patents on the 4G related standards played a major role in keeping patents of technologies. Apple has almost no patents on telecommunication technologies; on the contrary Samsung has one of the largest telecom patents in the world." According to an interview from *the Hankyoreh*, Kim Kwang-soo, director of theFuture Creation Science Department, said, "All fields are in the fight against patent, but the most serious field is Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Depending on how much you have mobile communications patent, the cost of licensing a customer to pay when you sell one device or one device varies. Even if you make the same thing, the manufacturing cost is much higher, without a patent."
For this reason, countries are fiercely competing to lead technical standards. Samsung Electronics announced that it succeeded in demonstrating its gigabit data rate using anultra-high frequency band last year. SK Telecom (SKT) and Korea Telecom (KT) have also announced that they have developed 5G technologies. Additionally, the South Korean government and companies plan to launch 5G pilot service at the 2018 *Pyeongchang* Winter Olympics. Kim said, "The 5G technology approach has different interests in both companies and countries. Global 5G standardization schedules begin in 2018-2019, and we need to show that it is indeed possible to increase the likelihood that our proposed technology will be adopted as an international standard. That is why the demonstration of the *Pyeongchang* Winter Olympics is important. Japan has also set a goal of implementing 5G at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. We have to make a strong impression before that."
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When 5G, the fifth generation of wireless communications technology, arrives in 2020, engineers expect that it will be able to handle about 1000 times more mobile data than today’s cellular systems. It will also become the backbone of the IoT, linking up fixed and mobile devices—refrigerators and cars alike—becoming part of a new industrial and economic revolution. Therefore, more interest in 5G is needed to keep
in sight of the economic and technological benefits in sight.
*Trusted Review: A publication that reports expert reviews of thelatest scientific and technological innovations.