5G Wireless Mobile Technology Specs Announced by ITU, Target 2020

Logo for 5G wireless communication technology

There’s been a lot of discussion lately around the introduction of the next generation of wireless mobile technology, known as 5G. Being faster than the current 4G or LTE technology, the new wireless standard will eventually come to smartphones and connected devices worldwide.

But until now, little has been known about the true capability of 5G technology on the ground. Finally, we’ve got some visibility around what it actually means for consumers.

In February, it was officially announced that 5G would take over the torch from 4G. The announcement came from the 3GPP cellular standards group, along with the official logo for the new standard.

More recently, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has provided specifications that providers and devices must support in order to be considered 5G-capable.

Downlink peak data rate is 20Gbps
Uplink peak data rate is 10Gbps
Downlink peak spectral efficiency is 30 bits per second per Hz
Uplink peak spectral efficiency is 15 bits per second per Hz
Downlink user experienced data rate is 100Mbps
Uplink user experienced data rate is 50Mbps

One of the benefits of 5G is gigabit-speed internet connectivity. As you can see, the 20Gbps (DL) and 10Gbps (UL) peak data rates are much higher than even those of LTE-Advanced, which are DL 3 Gbps, UL 1.5 Gbps.

Another major plus with 5G is the number of active subscribers allowable per basestation – or per cell or per square kilometer – is much higher than for LTE networks. ITU suggests that 5G must support at least 1 million simultaneously connected devices per square kilometer. Though smartphones are also considered connected devices, the growth of IoT in the form of smart speakers, smart appliances, connected cars and so on has increased our need for simultaneous connectivity.

That’s one of the other things 5G enables – an expansion of users-per-basestation boundaries.

The report from ITU is still a work in progress, and the final details should be available to us later this year.

At the Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona this week, Intel, one of the companies that are leading the leading the research on this branch of wireless communication technology, had set up an actual prototype 5G network, to which they connected a Microsoft HoloLens, a connected home, an autonomous car and a smart lamppost all operating on the same 5G network.

With ITU’s report coming out this year and several players already live-testing their 5G networks, it’s evident that it will have a huge role to play in IoT connectivity and mobile communication over the next several years.

We’re not likely to see any full-fledged 5G networks anytime soon, but by 2018 we should start to see the spread of capability in terms of networks providing access to the Internet, as well as in terms of more devices that are able to access the Internet using such networks.

In short, don’t expect blazing mobile Internet speeds for at least two years, but after that, expect the floodgates to open up to a surge in devices and network rollouts that are capable of such speeds.

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