5G: Your life is about to change

5G: Your life is about to change

We’ll start by answering the question: What is 5G?

With 3G, our phones connected to the internet. Then, 4G came around and our smartphones were able to support the mobile applications and experiences we’ve all come to love and expect. Qualcomm inventions were behind both advancements, and now, with expertise spanning more than 30 years, we’re unlocking what comes next with 5G.

5G, which stands for the “fifth generation” of connectivity, refers to the standards and technologies that define how our phones — and eventually, many other devices — work and communicate. 5G has the power to transform current industries, create new industries, and impact societies with:

  • faster speeds for enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and use cases requiring high data rates,
  • lower latency for mission-critical services that rely on ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC), and
  • higher density to support a massive number of connected devices in the ever-expanding Internet of Things (IoT).

In combination, these 5G innovations are likely to change the way all of us connect with everything and how everything connects to each other. Really, everything.

5G is a huge leap forward from 3G and 4G

Every 10 years or so, there’s a big transition in the mobile industry. The first truly mobile phones showed up in the early '80s, allowing us to make calls on the go. Soon after, Qualcomm introduced the world to CDMA (code division multiple access), which connected our phones to the internet and ushered in 3G. This third generation of mobile connectivity brought GPS, gaming, music streaming, and social media. 

The advent of 4G delivered yet another smartphone revolution, enabling what everyone is doing on their phones today. Our breakthrough technologies enabled an influx of new and exciting mobile apps that help us socialize, share rides, and even play games, using augmented reality (AR). With 4G, we also enjoy cloud-based applications that allow us to stream our favorite shows, communicate with our digital assistants, and collaborate with co-workers on our smartphones and Always Connected PCs. 

How we’ll start to use it

After years of research and development, 5G is set to launch in 2019. In the spring, we should start to see 5G data cards and hotspots debut. Soon after, within the first half of 2019, we’ll see 5G smartphones start to make their way into our hands. The aforementioned eMBB is designed to provide greater capacity, lower latency, and data rates up to 20X faster than what we have today. With this technology, 5G aims to virtually erase the dreaded “buffering” as we stream videos, share photos, and download movies on our smarter phones.

What’s around the corner

Today’s networks have limits for how many devices can be connected before service suffers. 5G networks, however, are being built to handle billions of connected sensors and devices — so not just smartphones, hotspots, and Always On, Always Connected PCs, but in a few years, industrial automation, connected vehicles, mission-critical services, and eventually even entire smart cities. This is when IoT and URLLC will come into play with eMBB to play a transformational role in 5G, as increased capacity and coverage will be necessary to support these new user experiences and a more connected world.

After years of research and development — not to mention the tireless work of my colleagues here at Qualcomm — it’s beyond thrilling to know we’ve unlocked 5G and are now months away from its launch. Our lives are about to change in ways we can’t even imagine. It’s incredibly exciting, and I can’t wait to see the breakthrough innovation that 5G will bring.