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5G will change our lives … someday.

James Martin / CNET

Want to know what 5G will look like? Qualcomm has gone all-out with next-generation wireless technology at its premiere next year. The maker of mobile chips, best known for the high-performance processors that make up the brain of high-profile smartphones like the Google Pixel 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, held its annual Snapdragon Tech Summit in Maui earlier this week. Qualcomm used it as a showcase for 5G technology and demonstrated a prototype phone that can use next-generation networks. Partners AT & T and Verizon also joined forces to build "Live Networks" at the conference hotel to demonstrate their skills. Samsung showed a 5G reference device At the event.

"Much of the work has been used to show the 5G logo on this phone," said Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon, giving the keynote the prototype of the company.

Samsung and Verizon have already announced that they will launch a 5G smartphone in the first half of next year. AT & T and sprint also. Verizon already has this year launched a variant of 5G as a home Internet serviceand plans to launch a standards-based mobile service in early 2019.

All this means that 5G of years of hype – since Verizon spoke about moving to the region three years ago – is becoming a reality. Beyond the high speed boost, 5G has been described as a fundamental technology that includes areas such as self-driving cars, virtual and augmented reality, and telemedicine services such as remote operation,


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Qualcomm gives us an insight into our future in 5G


But what exactly is 5G? Why are people so excited? The following explains why the next generation of wireless technology is more than just speeding up and why you should be excited.

What is 5G?

It is the next (fifth) generation of wireless technology that is designed to dramatically improve the speed, range, and responsiveness of wireless networks. How fast are we talking? Think about 10 to 100 times faster than a typical mobile connection and even faster than anything you can get into your home with a fiber optic cable. (Under optimal conditions, you can download "Strange Things" for a season in a few seconds.)

Is it just about speed?

No! One of the most important benefits is something called low waiting time, You will hear this term a lot. Latency is the response time between clicking a link or streaming a video on your phone that sends the request to the network, the response of the network, the delivery of the website, or the playback of your video.

This delay time can take about 20 milliseconds for current networks. It does not seem like much, but with 5G, latency is reduced to one millisecond, or about the amount of time it takes to flash a normal camera.

This responsiveness is crucial for things like playing an intense virtual reality video game or for a New York surgeon who controls a pair of robotic arms that perform a procedure in San Francisco, although the latency is still affected by the final range of the connection , The almost instantaneous connection allows autonomous vehicles to communicate with each other in real time. Provided there is enough 5G coverage to connect these vehicles.

How does it work?

5G initially used a super high frequency spectrum that has a smaller range but a higher capacity to provide a huge pipe for online access. In view of the range and interference problems, carriers are beginning to explore the low-frequency spectrum used in today's networks to carry 5G over long distances and through walls and other obstructions.

The result is that the crazy companies that were promised first will not always be there, but they will still be a big boost, which we get today with 4G LTE.

Where do these carriers get the spectrum from?

Some of these carriers already control small oscillations of high-frequency radio waves, but many have to buy more from the government. The Federal Communications Commission is organizing an auction for the so-called millimeter-wave spectrum involving all freight forwarders.

Motorolas 5G Mod, in prototype form

Juan Garzon / CNET

Are there any other benefits?

The 5G network can connect a far greater number of devices than a traditional mobile network. This internet of things that you hear about again and again? 5G can supply multiple devices in your environment, be it a dog collar or a refrigerator.

The 5G network is also designed to handle devices used by businesses, such as As agricultural equipment or ATMs. Apart from speed, it is also designed so that connected products that do not need a permanent connection, such as a fertilizer sensor, work differently. These types of low-power scanners are designed to work with the same battery for ten years and still periodically send data.

Sounds good, but when does 5G come here?

Verizon launched the world's first "5G" service in October, but it's a bit technical.

The service is not a mobile service, but a fixed broadband replacement. An installer must use special equipment that picks up the 5G signals and makes them a Wi-Fi connection in the home so your other devices can access them.

There are also discussions about whether the service is suitable for 5G at all – it does not use the standards that the industry has agreed on. The company wanted to jump forward and used its own proprietary technology. Verizon argues that speeds ranging from 300 megabits per second to 1 gigabit per second qualify the service for 5G tagging. Their competitors and other mobile experts deny this claim.

The launch is extremely limited in selected neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Sacramento, California; Indianapolis; and Dallas. (Let us know if you're one of the lucky few to get it.)

OK, but what about the mobile 5G?

Verizon says it will launch its 5G mobile next year. AT & T seems to be the first company to bring a true 5G mobile service to market. 5G will be launched in 12 markets this year. Last month, a 5G mobile connection was launched in Waco, Texas, with the first consumer 5G device, a Wi-Fi hotspot from Netgear,

It is expected that the introduction of 5G in these cities, as well as in Verizon, is extremely low.

AT & T said it plans to launch in 19 cities next year, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

No 5G phones? Can not I just collect 5G with my existing smartphone?

Sorry, no. 5G technology requires a specific set of antennas that are not yet available. Sprint says it's planned released the first US 5G smartphone next year, which is being built by LG. It also works on a "smart 5G hub" with HTC, but as with all 5G news, details such as features, specifications, price or availability have been taken into account so far.

Many of the phones are used Qualcomm's X50 modem, which was developed specifically for the development of the 5G spectrum.

In general, 5G smartphones are expected to hit the market in the first half of next year. Rumors say that Samsung is among the first to build a 5G smartphone. The company wants to do that put 5G in a version of his Galaxy S10. Samsung Mobile CEO DJ Koh, however, has annoyed a special 5G phone to launch it in front of its flagship.

OnePlus has also said that it will be among the first to have 5G in a phone, but this device will not come to the US.

Something to worry about?

The high-frequency spectrum is the key to this massive increase in capacity and speed, but there are disadvantages. The range is not great, especially if you have obstacles such as trees or buildings. As a result, in the vicinity of areas where a 5G signal is received, network operators must deploy much more small radio cells, creatively small cells.

This will annoy anyone who does not want to have mobile devices nearby. This may be objectionable given concerns about potential health risks and the potential for some people to see them as eyelids in the neighborhood.

Network operators using low-frequency bands may be able to manage fewer mobile handsets, but for 5G companies will most likely require the expansion of their networks.

How wide is 5G 2019 available?

Here's the other concern – 5G could still be a theoretical option for many people.

T-Mobile says it is Start next year in 30 citieswhile Sprint will start in nine cities, AT & T will launch in a dozen markets this year and in 19 markets next year. Verizon intends to start again next year. However, it is unclear how broad the coverage will be. Worldwide, China, Japan and South Korea are fighting to build their 5G networks Europe behind, because it is slow and steady,

Do not feel like you have to buy the first 5G smartphone. There is a good chance that the service will not be available until 2020 or beyond.

While some see 5G helping improve everyone's coverage, rural areas will likely fail for a while as they do not have the infrastructure to support all of these mobile devices.

Does it cost more?

That is unclear. Signs are that freight forwarders are unlikely to charge, though Sprint boss Marcelo Claure said in March that 5G was a first class service. The new CEO Michel Combes declined to comment on the prices.

You'll remember that LTE did not cost more than it came out – you just had to buy a new phone. Price models, however, may change over time. Since the launch of 4G, both companies have taken unlimited plans and brought them back.

Verizon's broadband Internet service costs $ 50 for wireless subscribers and $ 70 for all others. These are consistent with the other broadband costs. (Here you can find out if you are eligible for the service.)

Our 5G glossary

Want to show your friends your 5G knowledge? Or when the smartest person appear at a party? Take a look at our 5G glossary below.


The 5G bit is pretty obvious, but the NR stands for New Radio. You do not need to know much about it, apart from the fact that the entire mobile industry is behind this standard and the standard was released in December.

This is important because it means everyone is on the same page when it comes to their 5G mobile networks. Operators like AT & T and T-Mobile are pursuing 5G NR in building their networks. But Verizon, who tested 5G as a broadband replacement service before the standard was approved, is not yet using the standard. The company claims to acquire 5G NR for its broadband service and intends to use NR for its 5G mobile network.

millimeter wave

All mobile networks use air waves to transmit data over the air, with standard networks using a spectrum in lower frequency bands, such as 700 megahertz. The higher the band or frequency, the higher the speed you can generally reach. However, the consequence of a higher frequency is a shorter range.

To achieve these crazy high 5G speeds, you need a really high frequency spectrum. The millimeter wave range is between 24 gigahertz and 100 gigahertz.

The problem with the super high frequency spectrum is, apart from the short range, quite picky – a sheet is blowing in the wrong direction and you get interference. Forget obstacles like walls. Companies like Verizon are working on using software and broadcast tricks to circumvent these problems and ensure stable connections.

Small cell

Traditional cellular coverage typically comes from huge towers littered with various radios and antennas. These antennas can transmit signals from a long distance, so you do not need much of it. Small cells are the opposite: Radios the size of backpacks can be hung on street lights, roofs or other areas. You can only send a 5G signal at a short distance, so many of them should be in a tightly packed network.

In some cities there is such a dense network, but when you leave the metro area, small cells become a challenge.


Given how annoying the really high band spectrum can be (see section "Millimeter wave" above), there is a movement to capture the spectrum at a much lower frequency or slightly lower than 6 GHz. The added benefit is that network operators can leverage the existing spectrum for 5G networks. For example, T-Mobile has a 600 MHz spectrum to power the 5G deployment. That would have been impossible before under 6 GHz.

Therefore, you see that more carriers use a lower frequency spectrum.

However, the low frequency spectrum has the opposite problem: although it reaches great distances, it does not have the same speed and capacity as the millimeter wave spectrum.

Down the line, it will be ideal for the airlines to use a mix of the two.

Gigabit LTE

You hear more about Gigabit LTE as a precursor to 5G. Ultimately, it's about much faster speeds in the existing LTE network. However, the work to build a gigabit LTE network is the foundation for 5G.

Further information about Gigabit LTE can be found here.


An abbreviation for "Multiple Input, Multiple Output". Basically, the idea is to push more antennas into our phones and cell towers. And you can always have more antennas. They feed into the faster Gigabit LTE network, and companies use the so-called 4×4 MIMO system, which has four antennas installed in one phone.

carrier aggregation

Wireless network operators can use different radio frequency ranges and connect them together, making phones like the one Samsung Galaxy S8 can choose the fastest and the least clogged available. Think of this as a three-lane highway where cars can swing in and out, depending on which lane there is less traffic.


This is a term so technical that I do not even have to explain the nuance. It stands for Quadrature Amplitude Modulation. See? Do not worry about it.

What you need to know is that traffic is moving in a different way than the aggregation of Carrier or MIMO. Do you remember this highway analogy? Well, with 256 QAM you have big tractor trailers that carry data instead of tiny cars. MIMO, Carrier Aggregation and QAM already work in 4G networks, but they also play an important role in 5G.


This is a way to steer 5G signals in a particular direction, potentially giving you your own specific connection. Verizon uses beamforming for the millimeter-wave spectrum and avoids obstacles like walls or trees.

Unlicensed spectrum

All mobile networks rely on the so-called licensed spectrum, which they own and have acquired from the government.

However, switching to 5G is associated with the realization that the range is insufficient to cover the range. Operators are thus moving to an unlicensed spectrum, much like the free radio waves on which our Wi-Fi networks run.

Network cutting

This is the ability to work out individual fragments of the spectrum to give certain devices the kind of connection they need. For example, the same cell tower can provide a slower, lower power connection to a sensor for a connected water meter in your home, while providing a faster, lower latency connection to a self-driving car that navigates real time.

Do you hear other 5G-related terms that confuse you? Contact us and we will update this story with additional terms.

First published on 8th February.
Updated on September 27th, October 17th and November 13th:: Added new details.
Updated on December 3 at 5:00 pm PT: Details about the Qualcomm event added.
Updated on 4 December at 14:00. PT: To get more details from the Qualcomm keynote.

5G: Your next big upgrade: The CNET series about the next generation of mobile technology.

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