BY JON LEWES
In telecommunications, 5G is the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks. In 2019, cellular phone companies worldwide began deploying 5G as the successor to the 4G networks which provide connectivity at present to smartphones, and other users. In Gibraltar, 5G was launched in June 2021 by Gibtelecom.
“5G is going to be a game-changer for Gibraltar,” explains Noel Burrows, CEO of Gibtelecom. “Whether it’s for our people or business, the power of this next-generation network is going to unlock a world of possibilities for our economy and society.”
A network’s speed is very important and is why new generations of networks arise. The increasing demand for data to be transferred over networks at ever-faster speeds creates the need for 5G. The higher speed minimizes the congestion of data that can develop during connectivity plus provide possibilities to reduce the power use.
The global, and personal, dependency on internet connectivity was the main reason to develop 4G after 1G, 2G, and 3G and to follow 5G the next generations are already being put in place in some countries.
“5G sets the foundation for future communications.”
According to Ookla, an international broadband speed testing agency, Norway provides the fastest 5G speeds, reaching some 11 Gb per second with a median download speed of 526.74 Mbps. That level of internet technology, equivalent to 7G, 8G or even 10G in the future, is still very much a rarity in most parts of the world.
Seoul, South Korea has the second fastest speed at 467.84 Mbps, while Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates delivers 5G at 421.26 Mbps.
Qualcomm, the US multinational company holding many patents critical to the development of 5G observes, “To cover the cost of setting up each new generation, countries work to ensure that the 5G network connects virtually everyone and everything, including devices, machines, and objects.”
Foundation for the future
Adrian Ochello, Director of Consumer and Marketing at Gibtelecom, points out on their website that, “5G sets the foundation for future communications. Besides enhanced speeds, the power of 5G lies in its extremely high responsiveness and reliability, lower latency, and consequent ability to allow multiple devices to communicate with each other precisely and seamlessly.”
Latency in networking is the amount of time it takes for a packet of data to be captured, transmitted and processed through multiple devices, then received at its destination and decoded and is measured in milliseconds, referred to as a ping rate. 5G technology offers an extremely low latency rate – while 4G delivers at speeds in a range of 50-200 milliseconds, 5G delivery speed is 1 millisecond.
Smartphone users are not the only 5G users that are benefiting from faster connectivity. Many industries globally are experiencing greatly improved performances and 5G is set to be used for more critical applications than in any previous generation. Use-cases include autonomous transport, manufacturing, drones, emergency-response, and even remote surgery.
Downloading a movie will only take around 3 minutes.
Keeping those critical networks secure can quite literally mean life or death. Geert Van Wauwe, Chief Security Officer at Nokia, explains: “5G will empower new services and applications beyond our imagination. However, user acceptance will be based on trust that information has not been breached and services cannot be compromised.”
Availability for wider and deeper connectivity is in hand, with 6G about to be launched in some countries and plans forward-looking to 10G, and includes the need to expand the range and reliability to countries that have not yet adopted the new 5G network.
In UK, the introduction of 5G mobile networks is rapidly gaining pace with 5G coverage now available in some 400 UK towns and cities.
In Gibraltar, already a leader in Blockchain technology as well as working with the most innovative minds developing cryptocurrency, the roll-out of 5G by Gibtelecom is well underway.
Gibtelecom explains, “With 5G, you can look forward to delay-free downloads, buffer-free streaming and a much better and more reliable connection at extra busy times and areas. 5G in Gibraltar is about 10 times faster than 4G, designed to work at average speeds of 150-200Mbps, with peak speeds reaching above 1Gbps.”
Three-minute movie download
“This means downloading a movie will only take around 3 minutes. For smartphones, the phone needs to be 5G-compatible, have a 4G-ready SIM and be in an area covered by our 5G. If you’re on an older generation SIM card, no problem, we’ll swap it for free.”
According to Gibtelecom, “5G frequencies are covered by existing international exposure guidelines and regulations for radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) with 5G using the same group of radio waves and technologies that have been used for years with no negative effect on health.
The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority has approved the use of spectrum in the 3.5GHz – 3.6GHz band, and at 700MHz, very close to the ones currently used for 4G, WiFi and digital television signals.”
The radio waves that carry signals on the air through the antennas or the mast of our smartphones are part of Earth’s electromagnetic spectrum which ranges from high to low frequency (short to long wavelength).
There is evidence that the new devices and technologies associated with 5G will be harmful to delicate ecosystems but with consumers increasingly expecting 5G to be available on their new smartphone purchases, and with many mid-range handsets now supporting the latest generation mobile network, it is difficult to see how the development of 5G and the future generations will not continue to be demanded by the public and commerce.
Just as with motorway networks, data networks need to provide ever-faster possible travel times – except there’s no need for control over vehicle speed limit.
Some 63 years ago, 2,300 drivers in UK drove along a new road for the first time. The eight-mile section of road they were driving on was the very first motorway in Britain, now part of the M6. Now, in 2021, of the 31,800 miles of major roads in Britain, 2,300 miles consist of motorway, ensuring high-speed traffic use is always available – except when there’s congestion.