Technology: 4G versus 5G

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South Korea became the first country to launch 5G last week, on3rd of April 2019. The new 5G cellular mobile phone technology it estimates will allow that country to create 600,000 jobs and generate up to US$ 73 billion worth of export by 2026 (The Korean Times,9th April 2019).

Amongst the products planned are next generation smart phones, information security, Virtual Reality(VR) devices, drones, robots, intelligent close circuit TV and wearable devices, as well as 5-G based emergency medical treatment system by 2021.

What is 5G?

5G network will enable transfer of enormous amount of data quickly and with “ultra-low latency”.

Compared to current 3G and 4G systems the world including Mauritius has been using for the last 7 years or so, 5G can offer up to 20x faster transfer of data, cut lag-time from 10 milliseconds
to less than 1 millisecond. The connection density now about 100,000 per sq km can rise to 1 million with 5G.

According to Samsung Korea’s top electronic firm, if it takes about four minutes to download a high definition movie, with 5G it will take 6 seconds.

Employees demonstrate 5G services on VR in South Korean telecom operator KT in Seoul.

How to access 5G?

No not tomorrow! The telephone provider has to install new networking equipment (In Korea SK telecom has installed 35,000 5G stations and LG- U 18,000, but mostly in and around Seoul). And smart phones have to be modified or replaced. Fora transition period phones will have to maintain 4G capability to be able to pick up data in areas and countries where 5G would not yet be available.

Is Korea the only country installing 5G networks? No: carrier Verizon is installing 5G in Chicago and Minneapolis. Others you bet will follow fast. What about MT and Emtel here in Mauritius?

A forecast is that most of the world will have access to that new 5G technology by 2024, not earlier, partly due to high costs of installation, which costs will likely go right down after a few years as it did for color TV and now for smart phones. So a “smart” move for poorer countries will be to wait. Should we?

A final note on the necessity of communication education and the avoidance of misuse of these instruments. We have updated our laws but education on ethical use of smart phones and social media is a must.

World’s first 5G phone released in South Korea

Telecom giant Samsung Electronics on Friday released the Galaxy S10 5G, the world’s first available smartphone with built-in fifth-generation communications, as South Korea seeks to build a lead in the transformative technology. On Wednesday the South became the first country to launch nationwide 5G services, with three superfast networks going live offering data speeds that allow users to download entire movies in less than a second.

Hours later US giant Verizon began commercial services in Chicago and Minneapolis, after rival AT&T made a 5G-based system available to selected users in parts of 12 cities in December. South Korea’s three mobile carriers – SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus – held launch events across Seoul for the Galaxy S10 5G, whose base version costs 1.39 million won ($1,200).

Interactive virtual-reality displays and robot demonstrations were on show to tout the capabilities of the latest iteration of mobile internet speed, and new users were excited about the possibilities, especially live streaming of sports games and university lectures.

By Friday afternoon, 15,000 buyers had subscribed to the LG UPlus 5G service, and more than 10,000 to KT’s offer, the carriers said. Figures were not immediately available from SK Telecom, the market leader. Before Friday’s roll-out of the Samsung phone, the 5G service had been restricted to a handful of specially selected users in South Korea. Rival manufacturer LG is due to launch its V50 ThinQ, another 5G phone, in the South later this month, while in the US, Verizon’s network works with Lenovo’s Moto Z3 smartphone fitted with a special accessory.

Commercialising 5G gives South Korea the chance to build around the technology, which is crucial for the future development of devices such as autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things. It is expected to bring about $565 billion in global economic benefits by 2034, according to the London-based Global System for Mobile Communications, an industry alliance.

The implications of the new technology have pitted Washington against Beijing – whose firms dominate 5G technology –in an increasingly bitter standoff. The US has pressed its allies and major economies to avoid 5G solutions from Chinese-owned telecom giant Huawei, citing security risks that technological backdoors could give Beijing access to 5G-connected utilities and other components.

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