Communication is a vital part of our everyday lives, and with the advancements in technology, we have seen it become so much easier to incorporate into our daily lives. With those advancements came the integration of other parts of our lives to these technological platforms. Our entertainment, our work, everything we hold dear, all of this data accessible on the go. We have gone from being amazed by making phone calls to another person, to nonchalantly video-chatting with other people on the other side of the globe. It just keeps getting easier. With new mobile devices coming out every other week, we realise just how these platforms have transformed. But are these platforms quick enough? Now we are more interested in how quickly we can access everything. In steps 5G Technology. What is this mysterious thing of the future?
What is 5G Technology?
5G is the latest in cellular networks, it is 5th Generation technology. Meaning that it is the successor of the 4th Generation cellular network technology(4G). Using 4G technology we get substantial speeds, allowing us to download large files, even as large as Gigabytes, in minutes. Being the next generation, we will be able to download Gigabytes of data in seconds. Check out Spectrum for more info on the more on the technologies required for 5G. There is a recognised standard for the network to have to follow for it to be considered 5G meaning that we could be looking at speeds like 2.5 GB/s(gigabytes per second which also equates to 20 gigabits per second, bits being an eighth of a byte) for downloads and 1.25 GB/s(gigabytes per second which also equates to 10 gigabits per second) for uploads. Further details can be found at Life Wire.
What is so special about 5G Technology?
Because 5G is substantially faster than its predecessor it is definitely worth taking a look at as it makes real-world uses incredibly exciting. It can enhance the usability of existing technologies and perhaps even open doors to newer ones at the same time. Considering that the speeds, capacity and latency(which is the delay) of such a connection has potential to be, it would alter the way we perceive the internet as a whole, giving light to endless possibility. Such improvements could aid in the experience in self-driving cars, virtual reality simulations, air traffic control, movie downloads, and many other uses that would require downloading large files.
Does anyone have as yet in Africa?
At the moment there are a few places in Africa that have access to 5G technology. Vodacom has launched Africa’s first commercial 5G services as of August of 2018 in Lesotho. Other companies also have taken to 5G, such as MTN; having launched a customer trial in Midrand back in November 2018. South African company Rain offers a 5G for home service to Johannesburg and Tshwane. Although Rain is currently the only one of these companies with the necessary licensing that will allow for the use of the newer 5G spectrum (IOL).
Changes needed to be made to support 5G?
As great as the prospects are for this technology, there are some issues that companies looking to implement this technology, may face. The more technical stuff aside, there would need to be newer towers, or at least upgrades to the older towers so that they can support the 5G spectrum. And there would need to be widely available devices that can support this technology. Here’s a list of 5G supported devices from Gihosoft. For these to be put into place, even before all of these changes are even plausible, there would need to be the discussion of whether or not the spectrum necessary for the network, is even available. For more detail on what spectrum is as it relates to communication networks check out GSMA.
Is Africa ready for 5G?
As great as this technology seems, is it really something that could be implemented in Africa? Yes and no. It has already been implemented in certain areas. Which certainly gives us hope that it is possible, and given the right location, plausible. But there already exists technology that is available in Africa that has barely been used to its fullest. 4G being 5G’s predecessor, is yet to be fully realised across the continent, with some places still using 2G (IT Web). Considering that there are places that can support the newer technology, there are also places that cannot. Although we are playing catch up, I do believe that once the older generations are more widely utilised, for all that it is and all that it is worth, then there should certainly be more backing of this technology. But until then, implementing it in smaller proportions, at least as is feasible, is the best way forward.
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