What is 5G and how will it change our lives?

5G promises time required for devices to communicate via wireless networks and greater stability


5G IS the next generation of wireless technology. A fast and reliable innovation that is expected to fundamentally change how the world is connected and the way we manage businesses and live our daily lives.

However, most individuals and companies have yet to experience it, although many countries now have embarked on the process of launching 5G.

What does 5G exactly mean and how is it going to change our lives for the better?

As the fifth generation of mobile wireless communications, 5G promises lower latency (the time required for devices to communicate via wireless networks) and greater stability.

This next generation of cellular network technology is said to be anywhere from 100 times to 400 times faster than 4G with 5G’s lower latency, thus enabling people to connect many devices at once and move more data due to the faster speeds.

“These features have the potential to supercharge business, and that’s one of the reasons 66% of businesses plan to deploy 5G by 2020,” according to a study by Gartner Inc. “Ultimately, 5G takes advantage of higher-frequency bands in the radio spectrum that have a lot of capacity but shorter wavelengths,” Forbes reported.

US-based technology company Cisco Systems Inc estimates that by this year, 5G will generate three times more traffic than the average 4G connection, and those connections will make up 3% of total mobile connections.

For now, experts from various tech industries believe that the 5G network will be tremendously faster than 4G once it is fully deployed.

It is believed that a standalone 5G network could reach gigabit-plus browsing speeds, making mobile Internet as fast — if not faster — than hardwired fibre connections.

Malaysian mobile network operator Maxis Bhd said the technology will offer people speed 10 times higher than what 4G can provide today, and up to gigabit speed for applications such as fixed wireless access.

The technology embodies fibre-like speed over mobile and wireless connections, with the capability of supporting billions of connected devices in one go.

As a result, 5G has been used widely in the healthcare industry by doctors to perform remote surgery and diagnosis, as well as to generate medical records that have large data files.

Another use case reported by American financial and business news website Business Insider was that of doctors in China performing a surgery, in which a stimulation device was inserted into the brain of a Parkinson’s patient from nearly 1,900 miles away.

“5G makes this possible by cutting latency to an almost instantaneous two milliseconds between devices, allowing surgeons to conduct procedures as if they were right next to the patient.

“The technology could give private healthcare providers an edge over rivals, and the ability to provide services to patients further afield as 5G coverage increases,” it said.

For a normal person, 5G is going to change lives by providing instantaneous and glitch-free mobile videos, especially video calls.

In Malaysia, the implementation of 5G technology is expected to be rolled out commercially in the third quarter (3Q) of this year.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission reportedly stated that the spectrum bands will be tendered out to a single consortium of multiple licencees by 2Q20.

The spectrum tenders are expected to be issued in April, while the cost of 5G infrastructure development will amount to some RM21.6 billion over five years.

Malaysia plans to initially allocate 700MHz and 3.5GHz spectrum bands to a single entity comprising a consortium of multiple licences.

Chinese 5G pioneer Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has already inked a 5G deal with Maxis, as well as preliminary agreements with other telecommunications companies such as Celcom Axiata Bhd and Telekom Malaysia Bhd.

Other network operators seeking opportunities in Malaysia’s 5G business include Nokia Corp, which has eyed the country’s ports industry to provide its services.