Mobile users using the network of telecom providers available in the country are all familiar with the 4G network connection. Airtel was the first company to launch 4G services using TD-LTE technology in India in 2012. It’s been 10 years and now it is time to move on to the 5G network that offers faster speed and capacity as well as can connect to more devices than 4G. Last month, PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the country’s first 5G testbed to enable startups and industry players to test their products locally and reduce dependence on foreign facilities. The testbed was set up at a cost of around Rs 220 crores and is expected to enable a supportive ecosystem for the Indian industry and startups. Apart from 5G, the next generational network connection, 6G is also under development and its services are expected to roll out by the end of 2030.
What is 4G network technology
4G is the abbreviated form of fourth-generation wireless connectivity that replaced 3G (third-generation wireless) connectivity. The bandwidth speeds and network capacity increases with each generation of wireless cellular technology. For example. 3G offered a peak speed of 14 Mbps whereas 4G delivered speeds of up to 100 Mbps. 4G download speeds allowed users to stream high-definition video and audio. Moreover, this network technology also enabled wireless broadband that allowed users to get internet connectivity without the need for a fixed, wired connection from an internet service provider (ISP). A 4G connection uses an antenna to transmit radio frequencies that enable mobile devices to connect to mobile networks.
How is 5G different from 4G
5G is the fifth generation of cellular networks which is up to 100 times faster than 4G and is expected to create opportunities for people and businesses. 5G network technology adds more capacity (space) which offers more room for all the to devices get higher data speeds. The increase in network capacity is important as data traffic keeps on growing at about 60 per cent per year.
The 4G network even faced some issues while handling multiple devices in the same location that users may have experienced during crowded sports events or concerts. 5G solves this problem by transmitting to each device, with high precision and the network is capable of handling as many as 1 million devices per square kilometre. As the number of devices that connect to the network increases by about 25 per cent per year, the ability to connect more devices turns out to be very important.
The 5G network is designed to connect not only smartphones but various other types of devices as well. As more new types of connected devices increased with time, each of them will require connections with different levels of performance and characteristics, that the 5G network can provide.
The built-in processing prowess of the 5G connection makes it more than a network that can act as a distributed data centre that performs processing tasks. The network is capable of handling intense processing tasks like — AR-filters or games which are usually done by phones that affect the devices’ performance and battery. The 5G network will also help in developing new types of battery-powered devices, like lightweight AR glasses and coordinated fleets of connected delivery drones.
5G network can also function as multiple separate networks at the same time by using the network slicing technology where slices of the network can be designed for a specific purpose and can act as an independent network. Each slice can optimise the characteristics that are required for a specific service without wasting resources on things it doesn’t need.
How 6G is different from 5G
6G technology is even more advanced than the 5G technology that claims to deliver a speed of 1Tbps or 8,000 Gbps. For example, users can download 142 hours of Netflix’s high-quality video every second with the 6G network. This network uses a different spectrum than 5G which allows it to have multiple use cases for a variety of industrial sectors to enhance their efficiency.
6G is expected to be 100 times faster than 5G and is likely to offer enhanced reliability and wider network coverage. Additionally, 6G may also connect ten times more devices per square kilometre as the number of connected devices increases in the upcoming years.
Moreover, 4G networks offered a latency of about 50 milliseconds (ms) whereas 5G networks had ten times lower latency than 4G — 5ms. In the case of 6G, latency is expected to come down to a range between 1millisecond to 1microsecond which will allow huge data transmissions in less than a second.
This upcoming network technology is expected to overcome the shortcomings of the current networks, improve network design and optimise the network. Advanced AI systems and powerful edge computing will use 6G to coordinate with complex systems and develop seamless internet connectivity. Tech giants like Google, Apple and Samsung among others are all working on developing this technology that will replace the 5G network.