Don’t miss anything now, after all, the network of the future is no longer just at the door. It is already here. Almost all new cell phones from large and small manufacturers can handle it, from Apple to ZTE. And the mobile phone providers drum up for the new network. You want to be part of this revolution, don’t you? The question that remains, however, is what the fabulous 5G really brings for private users.
Much has already been written about this fifth generation of mobile communications, and real miracles are expected from it. It should react in no time at all, be able to send up to 20 gigabits per second of data over the airwaves and thus guide autonomous cars safely over the streets and direct the robotic ballet in factories. And and and.
However, the fact that 5G technology was not primarily designed for private users could cause some disillusionment among excited mobile phone owners. Yeah, not even for humans. 5G is primarily a network that raises communication between machines to a new level. The fact that people can still use it is a secondary aspect, so to speak.
The short response times are particularly advantageous in industry
The greatest effect of the new network will therefore be felt in industry. Where it is becoming increasingly important that machines not just spit out any products, but that they also produce data about them, lots of them. They are exchanged, processed and checked for abnormalities. From the entire machine park in a factory there are so-called digital twins with which you can run through new scenarios and optimize existing ones without the real machines actually having to run.
A radio technology like 5G actually makes this a lot easier. It offers the short response times you need for this, but it does not require any cables and can be implemented comparatively quickly. A box the size of a shoebox under the ceiling lightly illuminates a normal workshop.
For people who want to communicate with their smartphones, 5G does not bring any significant improvements, especially in the current state of expansion. This has technical reasons, but also other causes. Technically, it looks like that on most of the masts that light up the 5G symbol on suitable cell phones, 5G is still handled using the previous 4G technology. The connection is established via 4G, then the download takes place via 5G.
5G is more efficient and requires significantly less energy
This is usually not faster than 4G, but 5G is more efficient and requires considerably less energy than 4G per amount of data transferred. You can’t make calls over 5G anyway. In addition, 4G and 5G often share the transmission capacity available at the respective location, dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) is the technical term for this. If there are many data-hungry 4G users on the go, this also limits the transmission rate of 5G users.
Only at locations where 5G has been expanded as a stand-alone technology, the 4G route is no longer available, and users can get higher data rates – always provided that not too many other 5G users have just had the same thought and come up with it, for example Download a large game or watch the stream of a live event. The seemingly fantastic data rates of 20 gigabits per second only apply under ideal conditions for the individual user.
Aside from the technology, the use of which for private users is limited, at least at the moment, there is also the question: What large amounts of data should a private user constantly download so that 5G is really worthwhile? It’s not cheap either. There are now contracts that also allow generous use of data, but they are still relatively expensive. That could possibly change when 5G is so well established that it can easily be used in companies, for example, as a replacement for fixed cabling. That would also change and make office organization easier.
But that will take time. Germany actually wanted to be at the forefront of the 5G expansion after falling behind the previous generation. But with the auction, at which the network operators had to shell out billions again for the use of the frequencies, the foundation stone was already laid to ensure that things will not go so quickly. This money is missing Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica (O2) namely now. In addition, there is the uncertainty surrounding the Chinese provider Huawei. Are they allowed to participate or not?
So 5G is still barely able to exploit its much-praised advantages. This applies not only to the increased data rate, but also, for example, to the possibility of virtually splitting the network into subnetworks. In general, 5G will also mean that the established providers of network technology will have to dress warmly. Virtualization is an important topic in the new network technology. Because a lot no longer has to be done with their proprietary systems, but can also be done with standard hardware plus suitable software, they come under pressure. Because the players from the cloud and computer world are suddenly becoming competitors.
But while the 5G expansion is still in its infancy, the successor technology 6G is already being worked on. Experts like Ivan Ndip from the Fraunhofer Institute IZM even go so far as to say that 5G will not be able to fulfill everything that was expected of the technology. Ndip believes that even the transmission rates of 5G are still too low for operations using robots that are controlled remotely. Very high-resolution video images would have to be transmitted and there would only be very little delays. His conclusion, which he expressed in an interview with an electronics magazine: “6G should meet the expectations that 5G has aroused.”