Is 5G as fast as they’re saying? We break down the speeds

This article originally appeared on Digital Trends by Simon Hill.

Excitement about 5G, the fifth generation of mobile network technology, has been building steadily. The long process of rolling out 5G networks is already underway and we should see some limited availability this year. Now, 5G brings a lot of potential benefits, but one of the key questions that immediately crops up in any discussion about it is: How fast is 5G?

We could say how long is a piece of string? But that wouldn’t be a very useful answer. The truth is the speeds you get will depend on many factors, including where you are, what network you’re connecting to, how many other people are connecting, and what device you’re using. The figures you’ll see being bandied about suggest download speeds between 1Gbps and 10Gbps, though it can theoretically go higher. Latency, or the time it takes to send data, could go as low as 1 millisecond.

That doesn’t mean very much in isolation, so here’s a table that compares the speeds of different generations.

The averages here are approximate and the results are complicated by all the different technologies because each generation has evolved and continued to evolve, even after the next generation began to roll out. Then there’s the issue of carriers mislabeling their networks; many labeled HSPA+, which is really a 3G tech as 4G. The latest flavors of 4G LTE-A can theoretically go as high as 1Gbps, the lower end of 5G, but those speeds are not actually available anywhere right now.

The average speed for people connecting to 4G LTE networks in the U.S. today is 16.31Mbps, and it’s slightly higher in the U.K. at 23.11Mbps, according to Open Signal. The highest average right now is Singapore at 44.31Mbps.

“The arrival of 5G will undoubtedly bring higher speeds for end-users – but those speeds will vary depending on how operators design their networks and how many users are on the network,” Els Baert, director of Marketing & Communications at NetComm, told Digital Trends. “Although 5G will be able to deliver higher speeds, the main difference end-users will really notice will be the extra low latency on 5G compared to 3G or 4G – this will open up new applications in the Internet of Things space.”

For the most part, we already enjoy fast download speeds on 4G. While it might be nice to be able to download an entire HD movie in less than a second, it’s not something we really need. Upload speeds, on the other hand, are very poor right now. Looking at network latency, 3G could be anywhere from 60ms to 200ms, whereas 4G is currently around 40ms to 60ms. While 5G could theoretically take that down to 1ms, a more realistic figure might be 10ms. Not only will that make everything feel more responsive, it will also allow for cloud gaming, improvements to AR and VR, robotics, and driver-less cars. Being able to act in real-time over the network has endless potential applications.

According to a white paper from the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) alliance, which is trying to establish standards, 5G networks should offer 10ms latency in general and 1ms for special cases that require lower latency. The report also suggests, “data rates up to 1 Gbps should be supported in some specific environments, like indoor offices, while at least 50 Mbps shall be available everywhere.”

This 50Mbps figure has been the holy grail for a while now. It’s a generally agreed upon minimum speed that everyone would ideally have access to.

“The real benefit of 5G will be the fact that operators will be able to deliver fixed wireless broadband services to end-users that are of a similar quality to the services being delivered over fiber or cable,” Baert said. “This will increase competition as more players will be able to bring ultra-fast broadband to a substantial number of people all over the world.”

Traffic density, or the number of people connecting in the same area at once, has a huge impact on the actual speeds you’ll get. The NGMN suggests that, even in extremely crowded areas like stadiums with tens of thousands of people, we should be able to enjoy “data rates of several tens of Mbps,” with “1 Gbps to be offered simultaneously to tens of workers in the same office floor.”

Speed comparisons aside, it’s also important to remember that 5G is a complementary technology. It’s not going to replace 4G LTE or Wi-Fi, but will work together with them to keep us connected at a decent speed wherever we happen to be.

Realistically, it’s going to take a while before 5G is widely available, and you’ll also need to upgrade to a 5G phone to take advantage. We’ll keep you posted on all the latest 5G news as it becomes a reality, whether you want to understand the different spectrums or read up on the latest carrier tests.

5G will have an enormous impact on the world

This article originally appeared on CNN by CP Gurnani.

The countdown to the 5G revolution has begun, and the explosion of connected devices, such as mobile phones, televisions, security systems and speakers, among others, is only going to intensify.
As the next big thing in the journey of digital transformation, 5G will have an enormous impact on mankind. It will undoubtedly disrupt the way we live and work. It will go beyond mobile broadband and impact self-sustaining modern human establishments like smart cities, robotics and self-driving cars, and foster innovation in critical sectors such as health care, agriculture and education.
Wearable devices and connected health care, for instance, will help people monitor and manage their illnesses and allow medical professionals to efficiently screen and diagnose patients remotely. In fact, the 5G network has the potential to enable surgeons to robotically operate on patients from thousands of miles away.
This is possible because of the low-latency capabilities of 5G. With current networks, it takes approximately 100 milliseconds for information to travel across a network. This is incredibly fast, but there is still a lag that makes it impossible to communicate in real time.
With 5G, that latency is expected to be reduced to 1 millisecond. Once you have the ability to communicate over a network in near real time, proximity will no longer matter. However, there are a lot of obstacles we need to overcome before a doctor in Los Angeles performs surgery on a patient in Boston.

A long road ahead

Obstacles such as cost and regulatory oversight will need to be resolved before the low-latency capabilities of 5G can open up a new world of possibilities.
Communication service providers are going to need to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure to enable 5G. This includes investing in more antennas, base stations and fibre-optic cables, all of which must be in place before 5G can be widely adopted.
It is safe to assume that, with all the hype around 5G, these providers will find a way to ultimately build the infrastructure needed, but it will take a significant amount of time and money before we will be able to rely on the 5G network completely.
Additionally, governments and regulatory bodies will need to monitor advances and make it easier for telecommunication companies to invest in upgrading technology. They will need to enact policies to enable new revenue models, like data monetization and content management.
Finally, once the initial obstacles have been hurdled, there will be new regulatory and liability considerations for advanced automated features such as remote surgery, remote health care, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and public safety.

The future of 5G

2020 has been declared the year in which 5G will become commercially viable. Global carriers have started 5G speed trials, and there are promises of 5G-ready devices. As the world gears up for 5G implementation, translating the 5G promise into real impactful human experiences remains the challenge.
Developed cities will be the first to experience 5G, as rural areas currently lack the infrastructure to support the network, and it will take years before the whole world is connected. But even though we are just in the beginning stages of 5G, it is clearly not just a buzzword anymore. Companies are already having intense discussions around the massive implications of 5G on various industries and it will undoubtedly disrupt the way we live, work and play.
In order to continue to advance technologically, however, we will need a stronger network. The future of innovation depends on the successful rollout and implementation of 5G — and when we get there, it will truly revolutionize the world.

House passes rural broadband bill

This article originally appeared on DeSoto Times-Tribuneby Bob Bakken.

The Mississippi House of Representatives has passed the first step toward allowing rural Mississippians to be able to have access to high-speed internet service through their local power cooperatives.

The Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act passed the House on a 115-3 vote and is headed to the state Senate for consideration.

It has been known for some time that people who live outside the urban areas of the Magnolia State have had difficulty, if not being able to have at all, access to high-speed internet service to their home locations.

“We recognized years ago there was a broadband gap, there was a rural-urban gap,” said Northcentral Electric Power Association General Manager Kevin Doddridge. “Electric coops have been installing fiber for years for connectivity to our substations, for metering purposes, voltage control, all types of things.”

Doddridge said his cooperative had reviewed the idea of providing high-speed internet nearly two years ago but quickly found a road block in its way.

“Northcentral thought about this and did a really high-elevated study back in the Spring of 2017 and it showed us that we did have some connectivity issues in the area and that it was possible,” Doddridge pointed out. “We realized that the enabling legislation creating electric cooperatives specifically held us to the distribution of electric power. Anybody could get into the telecommunications business but our state legislation prohibited us.”

About the same time, said Doddridge, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves came to the power cooperatives and asked them to help write a bill to give them the opportunity to offer internet service through their fiber lines if they chose to do so.

“We came together and created a bill that would allow us, if we chose to, to set up a telecom affiliate, a completely separate entity and use that for the purpose of getting into the high-speed internet business,” said Doddridge.

He added Northcentral is poised to begin the process to offer the service as soon as possible, if the enabling legislation is passed in the Senate and signed by Gov. Phil Bryant.

“I’ve told some people the first step that Northcentral will take will be to start setting up our affiliate and whatever legal action has to be done by law, articles of incorporation, start that process as soon as possible, so we can start applying for some of the most-recent reconnect funds,” he said. “We’re looking at utilizing the 80 miles of fiber that we will have installed this spring and just see if we can pick up some customers, pick up a little revenue and put it right back into the system. We are not asking for a single nickel. We are just asking for permission.”

Northern Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley has been championing the rural high-speed internet issue for a number of years.

“This is a historic step to help the citizens of Mississippi,” Presley said in a statement. “The House has worked in a bipartisan way to change the law and that change will help shape the future of our state for generations to come.”

Doddridge acknowledged the bipartisan tone of House members in passing the legislation.

“I’ve got to admit, from my observation, it involved Democrats and Republicans working together and that is something I have not seen in Jackson in quite some time,” the Northcentral general manager said.

Interview: The Internet Of Things And New Solutions

This article originally appeared on Forbes by Gerald Fenech.

The Internet of Things is something that seems to be continually growing. We caught up with Fred Leung, the CEO of IOTW – an innovative solution in this space which claims to be one of the fastest solutions on the blockchain.

Fred Leung is a Bachelor of Science and holds a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering.  He has 30 years’ experience in the semiconductor industry with experience in chipset design and the production, sales, and marketing of same.  He founded a number of semiconductor design companies in Hong Kong and is co-inventor of PoA (Proof of Assignment) for blockchain application and has created the world’s first AMD CPU chipset for notebooks.  Working for Acer Labs, he pushed Acer in Taiwan.  He also set up the wireless division in Chung Nam Electronics with profitable products accepted by Dell, Lexmark, Korean Telecom.  Fred Leung owns 10 chip design patents.

As the IoT (Internet of Things) is slowly making headway, we were interested in finding out from Mr Leung, as the CEO for IOTW, what is to be expected from their new product. Leung is confident that their blockchain IoT infrastructure has the potential to revolutionize the future IoT industry. “We expect to achieve big data collection by micro-mining capability as mass adoption incentives and to achieve cost-saving energy efficiency.”

Leung explained that Micro-Mining Capability will be seen as Incentives in that they will empower any connected device with Micro-mining capability without changing the hardware by using the new consensus protocol PoA (Proof of Assignment), a randomized queueing system. This is, according to Leung, ‘a fair game’. This will add extra value to existing IoT devices and encourage households to purchase more IOTW-enabled devices while enjoying the free blockchain mining rewards as incentives.

 So far, not many blockchain projects around the world have the technologies to integrate blockchain into mass IoT devices.  With micro-mining function on IoT devices, the adoption of IoT and blockchain can be much more rapid than public blockchains are today and the blockchain scalability issue will be solved.

Unlike the mainstream blockchain mining under the protocol of PoW  (Proof of Work), which requires a large amount of energy consumption and computing memory resources,  IOTW saves costs by being very environmentally friendly and energy efficient.  This small “Digital Power System” chipset can help non-IoT devices convert to IoT devices by simplifying the power system hardware. The cost is lower than using traditional analog power systems in appliances. Therefore, it can also reduce a household electricity bill in higher power devices.

Leung explained that the IOTW ecosystem collects big data across different brands of IoT devices, and directly connects end users of IoT devices and IoT manufacturers through their blockchain, allowing each user to profit from the efficient and controlled shared use of big data. This can be valuable to IoT device manufacturers, research institutes, and sellers for making more informed decisions.

IOTW claims that it will take blockchain mining to every household by a threefold approach: Technology, IoT manufacturer ads, and the IOTW experienced team.

  • The technologic approach will set in when they will integrate PoA into many IoT devices by just upgrading the firmware with their system codes. Then every IoT device in a household will have a fair chance to reap the blockchain mining rewards.
  • Secondly, IOTW’s blockchain mining can go public at scale through IoT device manufacturers and retailers’ advertisements.
  • The third pillar is based on the experience of the team because, as Fred Leung states, ‘Our founders and some senior staff have many years of experience working in semiconductors, IoT hardware industry, and silicon valley. The team have over 20 IPO experience in total. All this experience and network can help us deploy our products at a rapid scale to households’.

On being asked why this is a Green Micro-Mining project and how can energy costs be close to zero, Leung explained that their micro-mining technology is so unique that in their PoA algorithm, each IoT device is required to perform some simple but very important cryptographic task, known as “Micro Mining”. On the other hand, these IoT devices are not required to handle the transaction ledger, which is maintained by a distributed Trust Node system. Additionally, the system allows any IoT device to mine IOTW coins without hardware changes or additional costs. In fact, Leung stresses, ‘”I want to emphasize that it will only require $0.50 cents of electricity to mine for every device annually.  So it will certainly improve energy efficiency’.

 Interestingly, IOTW has been selected out of 2,000 companies to join the 500 Startups Batch 24 Accelerator Program. This is what Leung has to say about this.

 “500 Startups is one of the topmost VC firms and seed accelerators in Silicon Valley. We are very pleased to be selected from 2000 companies which applied for its Batch 24 Accelerator Program to join this top program in Silicon Valley. The acceptance rate is about 1%. Four out of 21 companies are blockchain companies in Batch 24 and IOTW is one of them. More importantly, we are the only Hong Kong startup selected into this batch. This is a huge recognition for our technologies. And it is a milestone for IOTW to gain great support from the program and it can take IOTW  to the next level”.

 With regards to the Instant payment System, Leung explained that their transactions move fast.  “On average it only takes 1- 1.5 second to process across the Pacific. We aim to secure the network processing at a much higher volume, up to 1 million transactions per second in the future’”

 By 2020, there will be 50 billion connected devices.  How does IOTW plug into such a vast infrastructure?

“IOTW can plug its blockchain technology PoA (Proof of Assignment) and Micro-mining codes into the connected devices without changing the hardware and with minimal electricity cost by just embedding IOTW system codes into their next firmware update. Once activated, this allows the device to join the IOTW blockchain ecosystem and start mining”.

IOTW plan to deploy IoT blockchain products like light bulbs and smart power plugs, which have been tested in a large volume. They are now testing other connected devices like setup box to be IOTW-enabled to do micro-mining. They are also working on partnering with other IoT device markers to make more connected devices IOTW enabled.  ‘Therefore, as we grow and expand, there will be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of IOTW-enabled products deployed in the coming years’ says Leung.

We asked him to explain further on DAPP and transaction speeds and how these differ from other IoT setups?

IOTW is a multi-Layer Protocol to Enable Micro Mining on Connected Devices for both domestic and commercial applications. We have also built our decentralized e-commerce platform, which will be launched in around March 2019. There will be no “middleman” involved and retailers on our marketplace can reduce centralized sales and marketing channels, reduce selling costs, and make transactions more efficient with our instant payment system.  Our current instant transactions are at 3,000 TPS scalable up to 1 million TPS via clustering, interoperability and network advancements. Other partners plan to do counterfeiting services because, as blockchain is a decentralized distribution Ledger, data from IoT devices is permanently stored and is non-editable.  So, by installing our blockchain solutions, IoT device makers can track the records and avoid frauds. Currently, we are discussing to activate this service’.

As for the difference between  IOTW and its competitors in the market, Leung said,  IOTW is different from IOTA and IOTex, which are similar to us we believe we are in the position to neutralize them”

IOTA is legacy blockchain and has been built on Tangle, which is based on DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph). MIT Digital Currency Initiative’s researchers have disclosed that they have found some “serious cryptographic weaknesses” in the implementation of IOTA. It does not have micro-mining capability and reward systems flexibility on IoT devices. Therefore, lacking in full node implementation,  IOTA can only handle few TPS so far.

“At IOTW, we have real blockchain technology solutions that enable mining via any connected devices in a household without added hardware cost and end users can get mining rewards flexibly and fairly. As said before, our applications are diverse: Decentralized E-commerce platform, Payment system, Big Data Collection, Other enterprise usages.  We can handle 1,000+ IoT devices at the same time with a single Trust Node”.

The IOTex ledger is similar to IOTW. However, its user growth is relatively slow, and it does not offer micro-mining as encouragement, though it has mining functionIOTW has also developed “Block Witnessing Protocol” which provides extra network security compared to traditional blockchain architecture. IOTW does this by utilizing a witnessing pool, making the network smaller and holding a hundred less copies of ledgers, while providing robust security, thereby significantly reducing the cost of the network.

Fred Leung concluded by stressing that what IOTW differs is its future mass IoT Blockchain deployments via partners and micro-mining capability as mass adoption encouragement.

A 5G world is coming. Tech companies at CES show they’re ready

This article originally appeared on CNN by Ahiza Garcia.

More companies are sharing ambitious plans about how we’ll live in a 5G world.

This week at CES, the annual tech convention in Las Vegas was filled with demos highlighting the potential of next generation of internet speed.
5G could make the process of loading websites, downloading songs and streaming movies at least 10 times faster than 4G. It’s not expected to start replacing 4G in the United States until 2020, but companies such as Verizon, Sprint and AT&T — CNN’s parent company — aim to launch 5G smartphones this year.
At CES, Verizon detailed how 5G will transfer data at super fast speeds. It showed off how augmented reality could be used in surgeries to help with precision and improve gaming and virtual reality experiences.
“5G is a promise of so much more than we’ve ever seen of any wireless technology,” CEO Hans Vestberg told attendees.
Last year, Verizon brought a broadband-like version of its fixed wireless 5G technology to several US cities. Verizon’s 5G Home router converts 5G signal into Wi-Fi for customers’ homes. But that version of 5G isn’t mobile as of now — after all, smartphones and cellular devices don’t yet support 5G.
Samsung CEO HS Kim said 5G will be intertwined with innovations in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The company’s demonstration showcased how these technologies could come together in a connected car.
Chipmaker Qualcomm devoted a large portion of its booth to showing off what 5G could potentially do on both smartphones and VR headsets. In one demonstration, a VR headset played a video streamed entirely over a 5G network with no latency.
“We see 5G as being the biggest step yet,” Qualcomm’s Vice President of Marketing Pete Lancia told CNN Business. “3G brought the internet to your phone, and 4G enabled mobile-only companies like Uber and SnapChat to thrive. To say 5G will have a more profound impact than that is huge.”
Intel’s booth demonstrated how 5G enables better video game graphics on a laptop.
CES also featured some 5G mobile devices on display, but none are currently available in the US market. For example, Samsung’s 5G prototype smartphone was featured under protective glass. The company is expected to launch its first 5G mobile device in the upcoming months.
Qualcomm also displayed 5G devices, which were made for the Chinese market. The devices are thinner than what we’d likely see in the US in the future because of different system requirements for US and Chinese networks.
Although 5G’s potential was certainly a major talking point at the event this year, it remains just that for now: potential.

Internet of Things, 5G, and Cybersecurity Dominate CES 2019

This article originally appeared on All About Circuits by Gary Elinoff.

The IoT continues to evolve as we forge into 2019. Its promise of minimal latency may be one of the greatest forces driving the quick introduction of 5G. And, of course, IoT nodes governing critical military, medical, and industrial functions can’t be left unguarded. Thus the progress of the IoT, 5G connectivity, and cybersecurity depend on each for support and practicality.

Companies all over the world are stepping up to meet the demands for IoT innovations and infrastructure. Many of them are showcasing at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is just wrapping up in Las Vegas.

Let’s take a look at a couple of IoT-centric highlights from this week’s show.

Smart Cities Powered by 5G and the Internet of Things

Telecom giant, Sprint, has been investing heavily in smart cities, announcing two separate projects in southern US cities.

5G IoT Testing Hub: Peachtree Corners, Georgia

In another move focused on the development of smart cities, Sprint announced the creation of a new 5G IoT testing project. Peachtree Corners, Georgia will be the home of Sprint’s Curiosity Lab, a massive facility that will have a mile and a half of test track for autonomous vehicles.

While the IoT has made rapid advances on the factory floor and in remote monitoring, the high latency inherent in 4G networks has hindered the adaptation of IoT in “real-world” situations such as autonomous vehicles, where decisions have to be made in microseconds.

Sprint’s Curiosity program aims to bring together network intelligence, AI, and algorithms to create a distributed core IoT network and integrated operating system. It essentially separates traffic that can tolerate a bit of delay from signal from communications that can tolerate no latency at all, making it possible to further exploit the capabilities of 5G.

SIM Cards Not Required

On the hardware side of the IoT front, AT&T and Gemalto have teamed up to combine network connectivity and an IoT module in one package. The goal is to save space and reduce overall power requirement, essential for IoT applications and wearables

The Gemalto device, targeted at AT&T customers, integrates its embedded SIM (eSIM) inside the company’s Cinterion LTE-M EMS31 IoT module. It provides for added cybersecurity by being easily updateable with the latest protections against ever-evolving cybersecurity threats.

This device reflects several trends from 2018, including hardware design with an eye on cybersecurity and the seeming inevitability of embedded SIM ICs.

Dedicated IoT Satellites

Cubesats, AKA nanosats, are tiny space vehicles as small as one 10 centimeters square. They can be launched into low earth orbit (LEO) in swarms, and are orders of magnitude less expensive than traditional satellites, and have the potential of revolutionizing IoT availability worldwide.

While a good 10% of the Earth’s surface has cellular coverage, only 1% has coverage dedicated to IoT communications. Astrocast announced that the size of its fleet of tiny cubesats will be increased to 64 vehicles, making it possible for devices in remote areas of the world with poor communications infrastructure to enjoy full coverage for IoT devices.

Challenges for the IoT in 2019: Trust in Security

BlackBerry recently conducted a survey that raises some troubling questions about how the IoT’s meteoric rise in popularity is being received. According to a press release this week, BlackBerry reports that 80% of US, UK, and Canadian consumers “do not trust their current Internet-connected devices to secure their data and privacy.” And, not surprisingly, stated that in the future “they were more likely to choose a product or do business with a company that had a strong reputation for data security and privacy.”

The company used these survey results to springboard an announcement of new features for its security platform for IoT device manufacturers, BlackBerry Secure.

BlackBerry’s Alex Thurber predicted that “2019 will be the year consumers will begin to vote with their wallets and seek out products that promise a higher level of security and data privacy.”

It seems that much of the industry is on the same page, placing higher importance on ingrained security than in days gone by.

5G is coming in 2019, and it’s going to change your life

This article originally appeared on Mashable by Dan Gallagher.

It’s hard to imagine life without smart phones and mobile devices. But it wasn’t until 3G that smart phones began to resemble the user experience now so ingrained in our daily lives. Since then, faster network speeds have been one of key enablers of the creation and widespread use of cloud technology enabling transformative services like ride-sharing apps, HD entertainment, and video calls that have become mainstream.

While 3G and 4G powered these services, 5G represents another connectivity leap beginning this year.

It is envisioned – per ITU-R’s IMT-2020 requirements — to support blazing-fast speeds of up to 20 Gbps, low latency as low as 1 millisecond, and 100x more capacity as compared to 4G, 5G is setting the stage for immediate improvements to existing experiences as well as the development of new, yet-to-be-imagined technological advancements.

Here’s a look at the change coming: 

Everything will get faster

From day 1, 5G is designed to make virtually everything faster, providing fiber-like speeds to support insatiable demand for unlimited data. You should notice improved download speeds, superior quality video streaming and virtually instant cloud access in flagship 5G devices launching in 2019. And it should be easier than ever to download your favorite binge-worthy series at the airport or deliver massive files to colleagues when you’re on the go.

Instant access to cloud

5G brings extraordinary low latency. Latency is the time between data request and its delivery. 5G is purpose-built and designed to deliver entirely new real-time experiences we’ve never had before. We expect our new smartphones, tablets, and always-connected PCs* will be able to utilize 5G’s lower latency connectivity, higher capacity, in addition to its super-fast speeds, for the next level of cloud services.

Smooth real-time multiplayer gaming

Once online/cloud gaming make it easier for multi-player collaboration, then, live-stream gameplay with rapid map and level downloads will get a boost. Think of first-person shooter game where latency can be the difference between your character’s life and death.

Transformation to the Wireless Edge

As virtually everything gets connected in this new era, realizing 5G’s full potential requires transformation of the wireless edge. An architecture of distributed intelligence where intelligence that deals with immediacy is moved toward the edge (closer to or on the devices) while processing-intensive functions are kept in the cloud. 5G is enabled with the help of Qualcomm’s foundational inventions and mobile platforms, and is engineered to provide the high-speed low-latency link that connects them together.

One great use case of 5G and edge computing is extended reality (XR). Enough processing is kept in the headset while offloading nearly everything else, including rendering, to the cloud. With your 360-degree views effortlessly synchronized with your movements, XR experience is intended to feel immediate and photorealistic. Simply put, this could  transform your experience from passive watching to living the moment.

Another use case is AR shopping. This is just beyond utility, it can make the shopping experience more fun, with the ability to virtually decorate with friends or family. An experience that can allow you to see how a couch will fit in your home – try it before you buy type of experience.

What’s next can only be imagined

Qualcomm, an inventor of breakthrough technologies for wireless, is focused on enterprise

5G Is Coming This Year. Here’s What You Need to Know.

This article originally appeared on The New York Times by Don Clark.

In 2019, a big technology shift will finally begin. It’s a once-in-a-decade upgrade to our wireless systems that will start reaching mobile phone users in a matter of months.

But this is not just about faster smartphones. The transition to new fifth-generation cellular networks — known as 5G for short — will also affect many other kinds of devices, including industrial robots, security cameras, drones and cars that send traffic data to one another. This new era will leap ahead of current wireless technology, known as 4G, by offering mobile internet speeds that will let people download entire movies within seconds and most likely bring big changes to video games, sports and shopping.

Officials in the United States and China see 5G networks as a competitive edge. The faster networks could help spread the use of artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies.

Expect to hear more about 5G soon at events like the big consumer electronics trade show CES in January in Las Vegas and MWC Barcelona (formerly the Mobile World Congress) in February in Spain. Wireless service providers including AT&T and Verizon are already talking up 5G. And device makers are previewing gadgets that will work with the technology.

Samsung recently demonstrated prototypes of 5G smartphones that are expected to operate on both Verizon and AT&T networks. Many other manufacturers are racing to follow suit, though Apple is not expected in the initial 5G wave. Analysts predict that iPhones with the new technology won’t arrive until 2020. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Here’s what you need to know.

Strictly speaking, 5G is a set of technical ground rules that define the workings of a cellular network, including the radio frequencies used and how various components like computer chips and antennas handle radio signals and exchange data.

Since the first cellphones were demonstrated in the 1970s, engineers from multiple companies have convened to agree on new sets of specifications for cellular networks, which are designated a new technology generation every decade or so. To get the benefits of 5G, users will have to buy new phones, while carriers will need to install new transmission equipment to offer the faster service.

The answer depends on where you live, which wireless services you use and when you decide to take the 5G plunge.

Qualcomm, the wireless chip maker, said it had demonstrated peak 5G download speeds of 4.5 gigabits a second, but predicts initial median speeds of about 1.4 gigabits. That translates to roughly 20 times faster than the current 4G experience.

The 5G speeds will be particularly noticeable in higher-quality streaming video. And downloading a typical movie at the median speeds cited by Qualcomm would take 17 seconds with 5G, compared with six minutes for 4G.

Rather than remembering to download a season of a favorite TV show before heading to the airport, for example, you could do it while in line to board a plane, said Justin Denison, a Samsung senior vice president.

No. There’s another kind of speed, a lag known as latency, that may become even more important with 5G.

Issue a command now on a smartphone — like starting a web search — and the response isn’t exactly immediate. A lag of 50 to several hundred milliseconds is common, partly because signals often must pass between different carrier switching centers; 5G, which uses newer networking technology, was designed to reduce latency down to a few milliseconds. It was also designed to deliver signals more reliably than earlier cellular networks, which today frequently drop bits of data that aren’t essential for tasks like watching movies on a phone.

That improvement could bring many benefits, notably in fields such as virtual reality. The highest-quality VR applications now typically require bulky headsets that are connected by wire to nearby personal computers that generate 3-D images. With 5G, that would be off-loaded wirelessly to other machines, freeing users to move and making it easier to develop goggles the size of eyeglasses, said Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm’s semiconductor business.

In the related field of augmented reality, people could point a smartphone camera at a football game and see both live video on the display and superimposed player statistics or other data, said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

And 5G’s impact extends to medicine and other fields that increasingly rely on high-speed connections.

“If you talk about remote surgery or connected cars, you don’t want latency times to be too long,” said Fredrik Jejdling, an executive vice president at Ericsson, a maker of cellular equipment.

The answer for smartphone users in the United States appears to be by the second quarter of 2019; precise timing is uncertain.

AT&T has actually switched on its mobile 5G service in 12 cities, with seven more targeted in its initial rollout plan. But smartphones aren’t ready yet for a direct connection to 5G networks. So AT&T will initially market a 5G hot-spot device, made by Netgear, that can funnel wireless broadband connections to nearby phones and computers using Wi-Fi.

Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and the carrier’s chief technology officer, said the first Samsung smartphones for AT&T’s 5G network will be available in the first half of 2019.

Verizon is already selling a 5G-branded service — based on its own variant of the technology — to provide wireless internet connections to homes in limited parts of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. The carrier predicts that it will begin serving smartphone users in the first half of 2019, without identifying cities or specific timing.

Sprint said it might also switch on a 5G service first for smartphones in 2019, initially targeting nine American cities. Its prospective merger partner, T-Mobile, has stressed a nationwide 5G launch in 2020, but said it was installing gear in 30 cities that would be ready when 5G smartphones appeared in 2019.

Countries expected to follow the United States with 2019 rollouts of 5G include Britain, Germany, Switzerland, China, South Korea and Australia, according to a timetable compiled by Qualcomm.

Verizon and AT&T will introduce their 5G offerings with the first use of high frequencies that are known by the phrase “millimeter wave.” Using this, the wireless providers can pump data at high speeds, but the signals don’t travel as far. So the two carriers are expected to first target densely populated areas — “parts or pockets” of cities, as AT&T’s Mr. Fuetsch put it.

Sprint and T-Mobile plan to start with lower frequencies. The result may be somewhat slower initial speeds but broader range, said Michael Thelander, president of Signals Research, a wireless consultancy.

Still, 5G’s full benefits aren’t expected until American carriers upgrade key central switching equipment, which may not happen until late 2019 or sometime in 2020.

A consumer study sponsored by Intel in August found that 58 percent of Americans were not knowledgeable about 5G or had not heard of it, though another survey in December by the chip maker indicated solid demand once the benefits were explained.

Confusion actually could increase over the short term because of some technical details.

You have a lot to consider. For example, while Verizon and AT&T plan to later add 5G services based on lower frequencies that offer wider coverage, the first 5G handsets may not work with those portions of their networks. So the reach of 5G signals for those phones may remain limited.

“I wouldn’t buy a 5G phone until it supports 5G in one of the lower-frequency bands,” Mr. Thelander said. “For all operators but Sprint, this means at least late 2019, and more likely 2020.”

How 5G could change your life in 2019, and in the future

This article originally appeared on DigitalTrends by Digital Trends Staff.

Imagine playing a co-op shooter like Fortnite Battle Royale or PUBG on a VR headset — in real-time, with zero lag — all through your phone, while traveling in a fleet of self-driving cars going 200 miles an hour. Sit tight, because the future of gaming, and everything else, is about to change forever.

If you look at the corner of your phone, you’re probably used to seeing a little indicator that says 4G LTE, 3G, or, god forbid, 2G, and you’ve come to recognize that it probably has something to do with your phone’s connection to your mobile network. The higher the “G,” the faster the connection.

It’s pretty easy to follow: The G stands for generation, and each subsequent generation refers to a specific minimum speed, connectivity, and reliability necessary to classify the network as that particular generation. 1G let us talk to each other, 2G let us send messages, 3G gave us data and internet, and 4G/LTE made it a whole lot faster.

But all those networks will be things of the past, because on the horizon is 5G. And while you may be thinking that 5G is just a little faster, a little more reliable, and a little newer, it’s actually more than that. It’s a massive breakthrough that’s going to change the way devices connect to the internet, and more importantly, to each other. In fact, as 5G rolls out over the next two years, it’s going to change everything that uses a wireless connection; at this point, it is pretty much everything. So, what’s so special about a 5G future?

First of all, it’s fast. Like, really fast — 20 gigabits per second over wireless fast. That’s 100-to-250-times faster than 4G. By comparison, 4G provides average speeds of about 10-to-20 megabits a second. So, it’s like going from streaming one Netflix movie in HD, to streaming 400 films in 8k at the same time.

But what’s more impressive is 5G’s low-latency rate, or the amount of delay between the sending and receiving of information. Now, 4G tends to average about 100-200 milliseconds. To be fair, 100 milliseconds is fast; human reaction time is about 200-300 milliseconds. But 5G will get it down to 1 millisecond or less, which is almost real-time.

Being able to send and receive information that quickly means that we can use 5G to replace real-time interactions. What that means is, you’ll be able to interact with people, objects, or characters controlled by someone else, with no lag on either side. Play a real-time first-person shooter on your phone. Control virtual objects with other people simultaneously. Put on a headset and fly a drone or drive a car that’s somewhere else, in real life. Or, better yet, let it drive itself. It all sounds implausible right now, but that’s what’s capable with 5G in the future.

And self-driving cars may be one of the biggest breakthroughs to come out of 5G — sending data between one another, and communicating with traffic lights, road sensors, aerial drones, and so on. Think about it: Human reaction speed is 200 milliseconds, yet we still have accidents every day.

Imagine if your car could react and communicate its reaction to hundreds of cars around it, all within a millisecond. Not only could we prevent car accidents, we could end traffic jams altogether. Hundreds of self-driving cars that move in concert, with limited risk that they’ll hit each other because they all know exactly where they are in real-time and reacting to the actual world around them.

5G could also power the next generation of robotic devices. Surgeries could be performed from the other side of the world, with robot controlled in real-time by expert human surgeons — saving lives in situations where time and distance are the difference between life and death.

Factories can be staffed by robots that can communicate their task and position to each other, allowing them to not only do more, but do it efficiently and wirelessly over a 5G network. Imagine a fleet of drones flying over a field of crops, using sensors on the ground to sort, pick, feed, and water individual plants – all on their own.

5G will revolutionize the future, and companies have already spent billions to set up their networks and to fund new technologies that can use it. But, that’s not to say 5G is perfect. One major drawback has to do with why it’s so fast. See, 5G uses a mix of frequencies, with most of the attention on millimeter waves compared to the 15-40 centimeter-long waves used by 4G. And shorter waves and higher frequencies have one big drawback: They don’t go very far. Whereas on 4G networks, you can go ten kilometers and barely lose signal. 5G maxes out at about 300 meters, and it can’t even go through walls or rain.

So, what does that mean? Well, it’s a gift and a curse. Having such a short signal distance means building a lot of transmitters, every couple hundred meters in every direction. On the other hand, it also means that you can pack more devices into one area. Currently, 4G allows connectivity to a million devices in 500 square kilometers. That’s about the size of Chicago. 5G, on the other hand, will allow a million devices in 1 square kilometer, or a bit smaller than Grant Park in Chicago.

Meanwhile, some companies like T-Mobile are claiming to have successfully managed to pull off 5G on the old 4G frequency of 600 MHz, which can serve hundreds of miles in every direction from a single tower. However, reports are mixed about whether or not they’ll be able to achieve the speeds and latency we’ve talked about here.

2018 was the year of 5G hype. The 5G reality is yet to come

This article originally appeared on Los Angeles Times by Brian Fung.

When T-Mobile’s chief executive went before Senate lawmakers this year to make the case for his company’s merger with Sprint, he argued that the deal could help preserve U.S. dominance in high-tech wireless networks for smartphones and other devices.

“We’ll make sure America wins the global 5G race,” John Legere vowed. “5G will unlock capabilities that will fuel job creation and innovation well beyond what we have seen so far.”

T-Mobile isn’t the only carrier touting the amazing new capabilities of 5G, or fifth-generation data networks. The entire industry has spent much of the year marketing a dazzling future — one in which the successor to 4G LTE enables entirely new technologies, such as self-driving cars and remote medicine.

But despite the hype, 5G is still a long way from becoming a reality for everyday Americans. As companies such as AT&T and Verizon trade barbs over which one technically arrived first to the technology, analysts say the first 5G-capable smartphones won’t even arrive on the market until next year at the earliest. And with carriers largely switching on their 5G networks in select cities at first, it will take years for 5G to become as commonplace as 4G LTE is today.

“It’s encouraging to see American cellular providers really jumping out in the forefront and deploying aggressively these advanced networks which could have some real advantages for consumers,” said Glenn Derene, an editor at Consumer Reports. But Derene has little advice for shoppers who have asked him whether they should buy a 5G-capable phone. “When you look to the markets to see what a 5G phone is like, there aren’t any. Certainly, Consumer Reports can’t comment on how good these phones will be until we get them in our lab.”

In recent months, wireless carriers have made significant advances toward deploying 5G, though those achievements come with important caveats.

In October, Verizon announced that it had activated 5G service for customers in four cities, including Los Angeles. The product is not meant for use outside the home; instead, it’s being offered as a stand-in for residential internet service. Still, it’s a potentially transformative offering — households with only one wired internet provider might soon have an additional choice. But it isn’t “mobile data” in the way consumers tend to think of it.

This month, AT&T said it too had switched on its 5G service, announcing that it is the “first and only company in the U.S. to offer a mobile 5G device over a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G network.” The catch: Access is limited for now to a select group of businesses and consumers in a dozen cities, and it requires the use of a mobile hotspot.

Sprint says it plans to launch its mobile 5G service in the first half of next year. Until its merger with T-Mobile is approved and complete, executives have said, Sprint will continue to operate as though nothing has changed. The proposed deal last week received a blessing from national security officials, though it must also get approval from the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission.

As for when we’ll see the first 5G-capable smartphone? Industry analysts say the consensus appears to be the first quarter of 2019.

As for which company will make that first phone, “I think the expectation is probably Samsung,” said Walt Piecyk, an analyst at the research firm BTIG.