You've heard of 5G, but do you know what it really is?The latest CES, the main annual technology conference in Las Vegas, provided some answers last week.
5G is ultra-fast connectivity.As a result, any digital task that requires speed - for example, data collected by a smartphone, sent for analysis, and then retrieved - changes completely.
As FaceTime did with 4G, streaming high-quality video to social media will take off.Instant translation of text and voice will be easy online, allowing anyone, anyone speaking any language, to communicate seamlessly.
Augmented reality is also likely to become more common, as pointing your phone at something immediately produces something useful.Facial and object recognition can point a phone to a racehorse, and every animal and rider can be tagged.
Belgian company Mimesys even demonstrated using Magic Leap's hybrid reality headset at the CES global conference.AT&T, the us telecoms company, is experimenting with entertainment, suggesting that movies, shows and games "" can follow you out of the store, onto the street or into your home" ".
Sharp electronics showed how to stream live sports at 8K resolution to a large public screen.
5G will eventually deliver driverless cars and other unimagined innovations, but the industry of engineers is struggling to think creatively.
How fast is 5G compared to existing 4G LTE networks?Up to 1Gbps for 4G and 10Gbps for 5G.But the exact speed of 5G depends entirely on the type of 5G you're talking about.It's all about the spectrum.
"What we deployed at the end of last year was millimeter wave, which provides high speed and low latency, but it's not that good at distance or building penetration," said Alicia Abella, vice President of advanced technology implementation at AT&T.The company launched 5G services in 12 us cities at the end of December.
The early adopters of 5G are mostly in the u.s., with Verizon's 5G coming soon and t-mobile set to launch later this year.
At CES, chipmaker qualcomm revealed that it will launch 30 5G devices in 2019, using its 5g-capable Snapdragon 855 mobile platform and X50 modem.This includes some hot spots, but most are smartphones.
Samsung showed off prototypes for a 5G phone, two of which the south Korean company plans to launch in 2019.
Qualcomm also showed off a range of known 5G devices, including xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, Vivo NEX 5G and Oppo Find X 5G.LG, meanwhile, has confirmed it will launch a 5G phone, as has MOTOROLA, whose Z3 has a 5G Mod to make it compatible with 5G.
The first wave of 5G phones is expected to be launched in Hong Kong in the second half of this year.
"Hong Kong has just started allocating 5G spectrum, so we don't want operators to launch commercial 5G as early as the second quarter of 2019," said Tim Hatt, head of research at GSMA Intelligence.
The GSMA represents the interests of global mobile operators and organizes the annual mobile world congress in Barcelona every February.
"This is based in part on the Hong Kong government's time-frame for guiding spectrum availability," Hatt said.
According to the government, about 4,500 MHz spectrum - eight times the 552 MHz available for Hong Kong's 2G, 3G and 4G services - will be auctioned off to 5G network operators in April.
5G is exciting, but it's mostly unknown and takes time.
"We're going to see more announcements about continued hype around 5G, especially at the mobile world congress," said Werner Goertz, research director at Gartner, an analyst firm."More providers will announce 'island' coverage, but in terms of when it becomes ubiquitous and relevant for people to exploit, that won't happen in 2020 or beyond."
For those who have glimpsed the future, 5G is unlikely to come soon.