CHART: 5G Will Be a Long Time Coming But It Will Mean A Lot More Than Better Mobile Access

British Normandy Veteran Raymond Shuck, who was a paratrooper on D-Day, uses his mobile phone to call his daughter as he attends a function in the village of Thury-Harcourt in France. Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Erik Dahlman has a business card which describes him as a “senior expert” in radio access technology.

What it really means is he’s working on the next generation of wireless data access, the so-called 5G, the fifth generation following the current 4G, or fourth generation.

“I think that 5G will be available around 2020,” the Stockholm-based expert for Ericsson says.

And he believes it will be a gradual increase in capability rather than a burst out of the box event when suddenly 5G will be with us.

Even the year 2020 is variable. It was chosen because it would be 10 years since 4G was launched in 2010.

And it will be used to connect just about anything from fridges, to let us know when to buy milk, to pot plants to let us know when to water them.

5G is, however, still in the research stage. When that’s complete, then the world needs to agree on common standards, then trials and then commercialisation.

Dr Dahlman is reluctant to define what 5G will ultimately be in terms of speed and data capacity.

“I have this vision that it is accessing information anywhere, anytime, for anyone, for anything,” he says.

He calls it a platform to connect everything as this chart shows:

Some define 5G as speeds of 10GB per second which would get a full length movie downloaded in a second or two compared to minutes now.

However, Dr Dahlman points out that the current 4G is meant to have a 1GB per send speed but most handsets would never experience that.

He sees 5G as a wireless connectivity enabler in a truly connected world, being seamless, high-performance and sustainable (long battery life, low energy consumption) connectivity.

“It is not an individual technology, but rather a combination of existing technologies, which will continue to advance, and new technologies that will emerge in the future,” he says.

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