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After this week, 5G begins to feel real



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5G will change our lives … in the end.


James Martin / CNET

Do you want to know what 5G will look like? Qualcomm just went all-in on how next-generation wireless technology will take shape when it's debuting next year. The manufacturer of mobile chips, best known for the powerful processors that work as the brain of professional smartphones, such as Google Pixel 3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9, held their annual Snapdragon Tech Summit in Maui earlier this week. Qualcomm used it as a showcase for 5G technology, which shows a prototype phone that can tap into the next generation network. Partners AT & T and Verizon played in and set up "live networks" at the conference hotel to showcase their abilities. Samsung showed a 5G reference tool on the event.

"Much of the work went in to get the 5G logo displayed on this phone," said Qualcomm's President Cristiano Amon when he held the prototype under the keynote.

Samsung and Verizon already said they will launch a 5G smartphone in the first half of next year. AT & T and Sprint also. Already this year, Verizon launched a 5G version of the home's Internet service and in early 2019, it plans to launch a standard-based mobile service.

All this means that 5G goes from years of hype – ever since Verizon talked about moving into the area three years ago – to become reality. In addition to a high speed increase, 5G has been referred to as basic technology that will supercharge areas like self-propelled cars, virtual and amplified reality, and telemedicine services, such as remote operation .

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But what is 5G? Why are people so excited? The following is a summary of why the next generation of wireless technology is more than just a boost and why you should be excited.

What is 5G?

It's the next (fifth) generation of mobile technology, which promises to speed up, cover and respond to wireless networks. How fast do we talk? Think 10 to 100 times faster than your typical mobile connection, and even faster than anything you can get with a fiber optic cable that goes into your house. (Under optimal conditions you will be able to download a season's value of "Stranger Things" in seconds.)

Is it just about speed?

No! One of the most important advantages is something called Low latency . You hear a lot of this term. Latency is the response time between clicking on a link or starting to stream a video on your phone that sends the request to the network and when the network responds, you deliver the website or play the video.

The time can last about 20 milliseconds with today's network. It does not work so much, but with 5G, this latency is reduced to as little as 1 millisecond, or if it takes a snap on a normal camera.

This response is critical for things like playing an intense video game in the virtual reality or surgeon in New York to control a pair of robots that perform a procedure in San Francisco, but latency will still be affected by the ultimate spectrum of connection. The almost lageless connection means that self-propelled cars have a way of communicating with each other in real time – assuming there is enough 5G coverage to connect to these vehicles.

How does it work?

5G initially used super high frequency range, which has a shorter range, but higher capacity, to deliver a massive tube for access to the Internet. However, in view of range and interference problems, operators begin to explore lower frequency ranges – the type used in today's networks – to help the ferry 5G over major distances and through walls and other obstacles.

The result is that the crazy speeds the companies that promised first will not always be there, but they still represent a big boost from what we get today with 4G LTE.

Where do these carriers come to the spectrum?

Some of these carriers already control small volumes of high frequency radio waves, but many need to buy more from the government. The Federal Communications Commission holds an auction for the so-called millimeter wave spectrum to which all carriers participate.

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Motorola 5G Mod, in prototype form [19659003] Juan Garzon / CNET

Are there any other benefits?

The 5G network is designed to connect a much larger number of devices than a traditional mobile network. That the internet of things trends you hear about? 5G can flow more devices around you, whether it's a dog collar or a refrigerator.

The 5G network was also specially built to handle equipment used by businesses, such as farm equipment or ATMs. In addition to speed, it is also designed to work differently on connected products that do not require constant connection, such as a sensor for fertilizer. These low voltage scanners are meant to work on the same battery for 10 years and can still periodically transfer data.

Sounds good, but when does 5G come here?

Verizon launched the first "5G" service in the world in October, but it's a bit of a technical character.

The service is not mobile service, but a fixed broadband switch. An installer must install special equipment that can pick up 5G signals and turn it into a Wi-Fi connection at home so that the other devices can access it.

There is also some discussion about whether the service even qualifies for 5G – it does not use the standards industry has agreed. The company wanted to jump out and use its own proprietary technology. Verizon claims that speeds ranging from 300 megabits per second to 1 gigabit per second qualify the service for 5G designation. Its rivals and other mobile experts disputed as claiming.

The launch is extremely limited in selected neighborhoods in Los Angeles; Sacramento, California; Indianapolis; and Dallas. (Let us know if you are one of the lucky few who get it.)

OK, but what about mobile 5G?

Verizon says it's launching its mobile 5G next year. AT & T looks like the first company to launch a true mobile 5G service. It plans to launch 5G this year in 12 markets. Last month, it tested a mobile 5G connection in Waco, Texas, with what was supposed to be the first consumer 5G device, a wireless hotspot built by Netgear .

Like the Verizon distribution, 5G deployment in these cities is expected to be extremely limited.

AT & T said it plans to launch in 19 cities next year, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

No 5G Phones? Can not I just pick up 5G with my existing smartphone?

Sorry, no. The 5G technology requires a specific set of antennas that are not yet available. Sprint says it plans to release the first US 5G smartphone next year, which will be built by LG. It also works with a 5G smart hub with HTC, but like all 5G news so far, they have been reliant on details like features, specifications, price or availability.

Many of the phones will use Qualcomm X50 Modem designed specifically for tapping into the 5G spectrum.

Generally, 5G smartphones are expected to come out in the first half of next year. Rumors point out that Samsung is among the first to build a 5G smartphone. The company allegedly will put 5G in a version of its Galaxy S10. Samsung's mobile CEO DJ Koh, but bothered by a particular 5G phone to launch in front of his flagship.

OnePlus has also said that it will be among the first to have 5G in a phone, but it does not come to the United States.

All I should worry about?

High frequency spectrum is the key to massive pickup in capacity and speed, but there are disadvantages. The selection is not good especially when you have obstacles like trees or buildings. As a result, carriers would have to distribute much more small cell radios, creatively called small cells, around some areas that get a 5G signal.

It's going to annoy anyone who does not want mobile radios near them. With concerns about potential health risks as well as the possibility that some people see them as neighborhood eyes, there may be some objections to these things.

Low frequency bandwidths can get away with fewer mobile radios, but 5G will almost certainly require companies to further develop their networks.

How big will 5G be available in 2019?

Here is the second concern – 5G can still be a theoretical opportunity for many people.

T-Mobile says there is launch in 30 cities next year while Sprint will launch in nine cities . AT & T launches in a dozen markets this year and 19 next year, and Verizon aims to launch next year too, but it is unclear how wide the coverage will be. Globally, China, Japan and South Korea are running to build their 5G networks, with Europe behind as it takes a slow and close approach .

So do not feel like you need to hurry to buy the first 5G smartphone. Chances are, the service will not be widely available until 2020 or later.

Also, while someone sees 5G that helps improve coverage, rural areas will probably miss a while since it lacks the infrastructure to support all of these cellar radios.

Will it cost more?

It is unclear. Indicators are that carriers probably will not pay more, although former Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in March that he saw 5G as a premium service. New CEO Michel Combes refused to comment on pricing.

You will remember that LTE did not cost anymore when it first came out – you just needed to buy a new phone. However, the price models can change over time. Since 4G launched, the carriers both took unlimited plans and brought them back.

Verizon's home broadband service costs $ 50 for wireless subscribers, and $ 70 for everyone else. They are in line with other broadband costs. (You can find out if you are eligible for the service here.)


Our 5G Glossary

Do you want to showcase your 5G knowledge to your friends? Or seems like the smartest person at a party? Check out our 5G glossary below.

5G NR

The 5G bit is quite obvious, but NR stands for New Radio. You do not need to know much about this in addition to the fact that it is the name of the standard that the entire wireless industry rallies behind and it only came out in December.

It's important because it means that everyone is on the same side when it comes to their mobile 5G network. Carriers like AT & T and T-Mobile follow 5G NR when building their networks. But Verizon, who began testing 5G as a broadband exchange service before the standard was approved, does not use the standard – yet. The company says that it will eventually adopt 5G NR for broadband service, and intends to use NR for its 5G mobile network.

Millimeter Wave

All mobile networks use air waves to transmit data over the air, with standard network spectrum in lower frequency bands as 700 megahertz. In general, the higher the band or the frequency, the higher the speed you can achieve. However, the consequence of higher frequency is shorter range.

To achieve the crisp high 5G speeds, you really need really high frequency spectrum. The millimeter wave range falls between 24 gigahertz and 100 gigahertz.

The problem with the super high frequency spectrum, in addition to the short range, is quite nice – a blade blows the wrong way and you get disturbances. Forget obstacles like walls. Companies like Verizon are working on using software and broadcast printers to get around these issues and ensure stable connections.

Small cell

Traditional cell technology usually comes from giant towers full of different radios and antennas. These antennas are capable of broadcasting signals, so you do not need many of them. Small cells are the opposite – backpack size radios can be hung on street lamps, polar rooftops or other areas. They can only send a 5G signal in a short range, so the idea is to get a large number of them in a tight packed network.

Some cities have this kind of tight network in place, but if you go outside the subway, there are small cells that become more challenging.

Sub-6GHz

Given how troubled true high-bandwidth can be (see "millimeter wave" section above), it's a motion to embrace spectrum at a much lower frequency, or slightly lower than 6GHz. The added benefit is that carriers can use the range they already own to access 5G networks. T-Mobile, for example, has a swath of 600MHz spectrum it plans to use to run its 5G distribution. Before sub-6GHz, it would be impossible.

Therefore, you see more carriers embrace lower frequency spectrum.

But lower frequency spectrum has the opposite problem: While reaching large distances, it does not have the same speed and capacity as the millimeter wave spectrum.

Gigabit LTE

The perfect downline will be for carriers to use a mix of the two.

Gigabit LTE

You hear more about Gigabit LTE as a precursor to 5G. Finally, there are much higher speeds on the existing LTE network. But the work on building a Gigabit LTE network provides the basis for 5G.

For more about Gigabit LTE, our read explains here.

MIMO

An abbreviation of "multiple input, multiple output." Basically, it's the idea of ​​pushing more antennas into our phones and on the mobile towers. And you can always have more antennas. They enter the faster Gigabit LTE network, and businesses use what is called 4×4 MIMO, where four antennas are installed in a phone.

Carriers

Wireless carriers can take different bands of radio frequencies and bind them together so phones like Samsung Galaxy S8 can select and select the fastest and least-congested one available. Think of it as a three-way freeway so that cars can weave in and out depending on which lane has less traffic.

QAM

This is a highly technical termography, I do not even disturb the shade. It stands for quadrature amplitude modulation. See? Do not even worry about it.

What you need to know is that it allows traffic to move fast in a different way than carrier aggregation or MIMO. Remember that freeway analogy? Well, with 256 QAM, you have large tractor trailers that carry data instead of small cars. MIMO, carrier aggregation and QAM already enter 4G networks, but also plays an important role in 5G.

Beam forming

This is a way to direct 5G signals in a certain direction, potentially giving you your own specific connection. Verizon has used beam shaping for millimeter wave spectrum, preventing obstacles like walls or trees.

Unlicensed Spectrum

Mobile networks are all based on what is known as licensed spectrum, which they own and buy from the government.

However, the move to 5G comes with the recognition that there is just insufficient scope for maintaining broad coverage. So the moveers move to unlicensed spectrum, similar to the kind of free air waves on which our Wi-Fi network is powered.

Network Split

This is the ability to cut out individual spread spectrum to provide specific devices of the type of connection they need. For example, the same cell tower can offer a lower power, slower connection to a sensor for a connected water meter in your home while offering a faster, lower latency connection to a self-propelled car that navigates in real time.

Do you hear more 5G-related terms that confuse you? Contact us and we update this story with additional terms.

First published February 8th.
Updated September 27, October 17 and November 13: : Added new details.
Updated December 3rd at 5:00 PT. Added details about the Qualcomm event.
Updated December 4th at 14:00 PT: To include more details from Qualcomm keynote.

5G: Your Next Big Upgrade : CNET's Series on the Next Generation of Cellular Technology.

Not Just Speed ​​: See 7 amazing things you can do with 5G.


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