Samsung tests 5G technology – But What Does It All Mean?

All the news and technology websites have been abuzz for the past few days with news that Samsung has been testing out new 5G mobile broadband communications which are capable of speeds hundreds of times faster than current download and browsing speeds offered by 3G and even the new 4G. But what will this powerful new era of mobile broadband mean for consumers? We’ve taken some time to demystify and explain all the hype surrounding this new 5G phenomenon, and give you some stats about how it works, when it will be available, and what we can use in the meantime.

What is 5G?

5G generally stands for the 5th generation of mobile communication standards (just as 3G meant 3rd generation) While Samsung had been calling this new communications standard ‘5G’, it’s not actually a defined set of standards just yet like 3G or 4G, but rather just a general name or concept for the technology that will inevitably succeed 4G in the not so distant future. It will still be some time before there is a uniform set of standards and minimum and maximum download speeds established for 5G.

What speeds is it capable of?
In its trials, Samsung reported that it transmitted data of just over 1gb per second, potentially meaning that watching and downloading high-quality and 3D movies, whole TV series, games and other huge data files in a matter of seconds will soon become the norm. Compare this to 3G, which is capable of maximum speeds of up to 7.2Mb per second (although user testing unfortunately often finds that the average speed is much, much lower than this), and 4G, at a maximum of 8-12Mb per second. So, 5G is definitely a huge leap and a jump forward in terms of speed. 5G also has potential benefits for things like remote medical services, allowing rural doctors to communicate with each other and patients much more quickly and efficiently than before.

How does it work?
So – how has Samsung managed to achieve these huge speeds? New towers? General network upgrades? A little of both. Samsung announced that it has developed “the world’s first adaptive array transceiver technology operating in the millimeter-wave Ka bands for cellular communications”. But what does this mean, exactly – Samsung summarizes things nicely for us, stating that “the implementation of a high-speed 5G cellular network requires a broad band of frequencies, much like an increased water flow requires a wider pipe” – so essentially, their new towers allow for a higher range of frequencies to be utilized when transmitting data.

When will it be available?
Sadly, 5G network capabilities aren’t expected to be available to regular internet and mobile subscribers like us until at least 2020, when Samsung is planning to commercialize the technology. Even after that, it will probably still take some time for full roll outs to be completed, and for local carriers to start offering it to their customers. But with the impressive capabilities and speeds which are already being explored, we think it will be well worth the wait!

What’s available in the meantime?
While this all sounds very exciting, 5G is still very much in the initial testing stages. In the meantime, phone and internet networks are still busy working on rolling out the latest in 4G technology. 4G enable devices are already available at plenty of trusted retailers such as The Good Guys, so be sure to speak to a tech expert about what kind of network speeds your particular handset can achieve, based on your phone network carrier.

What do you think of Samsung’s latest 5G network trials? Do you think there’s any we’ll see it become available any sooner than 2020 as more companies start trialing the new technology?

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I'm an eternal optimist, follow a Buddhist philosophy, geek of many areas, entrepreneur, learning the Chinese language, a die-hard sports fan, love politics and nuclear submarines.

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