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Each generation of wireless technology has undergone a significant boost in speed, signal clarity, and reliability. We are now four generations deep, so it seems appropriate to consider what may be possible with fifth-generation connectivity. If you haven’t realized it up until now, the ‘G’ in your 3G or 4G LTE wireless communication standard represents ‘generation’, and we are now in the fourth generation of mobile networking, with 5G technology just around the corner.
Each generation has had its own level of advancement with data transmission speed, and regular breakthroughs in how data is encoded and transmitted. Our current 4G technology is the standard for high-speed wireless communication for most mobile phones and for data terminals as well, with the capability of moving data much faster, and of moving much larger files from point-to-point.
What Will 5G Technology be Capable of?
So what will 5G technology actually be capable of? It’s safe to say that there will be another significant boost in mobile connectivity, for both personal use and for business applications. It’s also likely that Unified Communications (UC) packages will have more and better features for businesses.
While there is no hard information available on the 5G standard, we can expect data transmission speeds approximately 10 times faster than current technology allows. This means that download speeds of 10 GBs per second would be possible, even over a wireless connection.
Contrary to previous generations, where massive cell towers transmitted data signals to diverse geographic locations, 5G signals may possibly be transmitted by much smaller towers, or network cells, which are deployed in far greater numbers. These kinds of network cells might be no bigger than home routers, but would still be very powerful.
At any rate, we shouldn’t have to wait long, because the first commercial deployments of 5G technology could come as soon as the year 2020, and possibly even sooner than that.
Impact of 5G Technology on VoIP and UC
We expect that the blazing speed of data transmission promised by the fifth generation of mobile networking will provide tremendous benefits to both businesses and personal users. One of the areas which should see a tremendous boost in quality is videoconferencing. To this point, videoconferencing has enjoyed limited usage in business and has not taken off as expected, partly because the quality of videoconferencing is not always up to snuff.
With the advances expected to be available through 5G data transmission, web and videoconferencing may become a much more important feature in the typical UC package. 4K and 8K video are already available on at least a limited basis, but network speed has been a bit of a brake on the technology, because data transfer speed has not been able to keep up and allow for a stable video stream to be transmitted and displayed.
When 5G data transfer speeds become available, there should be a tremendous boost in the ability to manage both 4K and 8K video, relative to connecting, transferring, downloading and even streaming. With high-quality video available and accessible at a mobile level, and at any location where you can get a signal, the accessibility of videoconferencing should be far greater and much more appealing. There will also be fewer interruptions or disruptions to signals, which will make videoconferencing much more reliable.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) should also undergo significant improvement. These twin technologies have experienced a great deal of development and improvement in recent times, and now technology is finally catching up to make them even better. Mobile AR and VR are likely to become much more prevalent and enjoy much greater usage.
These two technologies may seem like pleasant diversions and fascinating entertainment, but there is potential for these two to provide the basis for incredible videoconferencing and web conferencing. For instance, if you had to give a potential client some kind of virtual tour of your facility, or of a very large project under construction, using VR and AR to provide that tour might be well within the realm of possibility.
How Will 5G Technology Affect VoIP?
Mobile Voice over IP is another area where we could see a great impact. VoIP calls are reliant upon an Internet connection, so mobile VoIP users often experience lower clarity and less reliability when making calls from a Wi-Fi network. Most VoIP apps do not use 4G technology, so call quality is not very good, partly because packet loss is an issue, wherein large sections of calls are lost, and jitters may be introduced.
We expect VoIP applications to wholeheartedly adopt 5G technology. Upload and download speeds will be greater than they are now, with disconnects a thing of the past, and packet loss reduced to a minimum. 5G mobile VoIP may never completely replaces office phone systems, but for many mobile phone users there will be a level of connectivity and reliability that has never been possible before.