Demystifying 5G

16th December 2019
Demystifying 5G
Google's new Visual Positioning System will be an early service that 5G brings

 Sifting hype from reality, about the next upward lurch in mobile connectivity
By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore, December 16 2019:  They used to  call the Internet, an Information superhighway. But  as many of us who access the Net on our hand phones know, it can often seem like a  galli, where data seemed to move at   bullock cart speed. All that is set to change as   mobile communication moves from  3G and 4G  to 5G.   Think of it as an autobahn with no speed limits, no red lights, we are told.
So  what is 5G? It is the fifth speed boost in  the 25 year history of mobile phone networks. The jump in data speed is  likely to be 10 times better than what we  experience on  4G LTE phones today -- and not much more  for starters. Ignore the hype which  predicts a hundred-fold  speed increase.
When can we expect to experience 5G?  China and South Korea have already set up 5G networks.  Kuwait, Qatar, UK and US may be the next to roll out nationally, in 2020.   Sorry,  it  doesn't look like happening in India.; some of the top phones  you can buy  by mid 2020 will be 5G-ready, but the networks won't.  That is because all Indian mobile providers  are facing severe   financial strain . So think  5G in 2021-22.
Will it cost us more? Almost certainly. But Indians are still likely to get 5G services cheaper than  most other places -- because of the sheer size of the market.
What's the big difference?  Speed --when you watch movies, play  games,  make online transactions,  with no  sudden screen freezes and   data drop outs.  The real difference may come when new applications, harnessing AI and  a masala mix of virtual, augmented and mixed realities. Google  Vice President  Aparna Chennapragada recently previewed a technology called Visual Positioning System  or VPS that improves on GPS. You open the camera of your phone and instantly know where you are. All the information in Google maps is overlaid on a live 3D  video map of your surroundings. 5G will enable this seamless morph of camera, computer vision,  navigation and maps.
From medical treatment to home appliances to street lighting, 5G  can smarten many non-smart applications and control it via a mobile device. In a country like india, 5G is expected to boost intelligent transportation,  smart vehicles and electric cars. In short, 5G promises a smarter, more intelligent,  personalized way of mobile communication , indeed,  all other communication.
Any downside? Yes,privacy will remain a big challenge as machines  increasingly know  more about  you even as they help make life easier for you.