5G technology has a theoretical peak speed of 20 Gbps, while the peak speed of 4G is only 1 Gbps. 5G also promises lower latency, which can improve the performance of business applications as well as other digital experiences (such as online gaming, videoconferencing, and self-driving cars).
While earlier generations of cellular technology (such as 4G LTE) focused on ensuring connectivity, 5G takes connectivity to the next level by delivering connected experiences from the cloud to clients. 5G networks are virtualized and software-driven, and they exploit cloud technologies.
The 5G network will also simplify mobility, with seamless open roaming capabilities between cellular and Wi-Fi access. Mobile users can stay connected as they move between outdoor wireless connections and wireless networks inside buildings without user intervention or the need for users to reauthenticate.
The new Wi-Fi 6 wireless standard (also known as 802.11ax) shares traits with 5G, including improved performance. Wi-Fi 6 radios can be placed where users need them to provide better geographical coverage and lower cost. Underlying these Wi-Fi 6 radios is a software-based network with advanced automation.
5G technology should improve connectivity in underserved rural areas and in cities where demand can outstrip today’s capacity with 4G technology. New 5G networks will also have a dense, distributed-access architecture and move data processing closer to the edge and the users to enable faster data processing.
How does 5G technology work?
5G architectures will be software-defined platforms, in which networking functionality is managed through software rather than hardware. Advancements in virtualization, cloud-based technologies, and IT and business process automation enable 5G architecture to be agile and flexible and to provide anytime, anywhere user access. 5G networks can create software-defined subnetwork constructs known as network slices. These slices enable network administrators to dictate network functionality based on users and devices.
5G also enhances digital experiences through machine-learning (ML)-enabled automation. Demand for response times within fractions of a second (such as those for self-driving cars) require 5G networks to enlist automation with ML and, eventually, deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Automated provisioning and proactive management of traffic and services will reduce infrastructure cost and enhance the connected experience.