5G Communications: Everything Everywhere and Always Connected

On June 20, 1840, Samuel Morse obtained a patent for “improvement in the mode of communicating information by signals by the application of electro-magnetism.”  The first U.S. telegraph could transmit 30 characters per minute across a range of two miles.

On June 19, 1900, Mihajlo “Michael” Pupin obtained patents for “reducing attenuation of electrical waves and apparatus.”  Pupin’s inductive coils helped enable long-distance telephone lines of longer than 500 miles.

Today, 4G (fourth-generation) mobile technologies such as LTE and LTE Advanced enable users not only to use cell phones around the world, but surf the Internet, stream high-definition video and conduct business transactions at speeds up to five times faster than the previous 3G.

What’s next?

Several organizations are already working to define the next generation of mobile communications technologies beyond 2020.  Agilent has launched a page on its Website dedicated to 5G, with a technical vision of “everything everywhere and always connected.”

Wireless data traffic is projected to increase 5,000-fold by the year 2030.  Unfortunately, the wireless spectrum is limited.  Numerous groups, from universities to infrastructure companies to chipset providers, are investigating how to increase capacity.   They are looking at mmWave frequencies for more spectrum and bandwidth, new antenna and physical-layer technologies, and network topologies.  The latest thinking points to an integrated wireless/wireless-hybrid network.  In this model, as much service delivery as possible would be routed through fixed networks up until the actual point of consumption – or as close as possible – before going wireless.

5G will also need to address several critical performance areas.  These include data throughput, cost, reliability, availability, coverage, security, disparate networks and devices, and latency.  The next World Radiocommunication Conference is scheduled for 2015, when the 5G standard is expected to be discussed by international delegates.  In the meantime, many organizations – Agilent included – are doing research on how to take us to the next generation of wireless connectivity.

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