Understanding our future with 5G

What makes 5G demanding?

In just a decade, the number of IP data handled by wireless networks has grown by well over a factor of 100, from under 3 exabytes in 2010 to over 190 exabytes by 2018 and is on pace to surpass 500 exabytes by the end of 2020. In addition to the sheer volume of data, the number of devices and the data rates will always continue to grow exponentially. The number of devices could reach tens or even hundreds of billions by the time 5G is fully matured, due to many new applications beyond personal communications such as Cloud gaming and Video streaming. So let us jot down the top two reasons why we need 5G in the first place?

1. Data Rate

The need to support the mobile data traffic explosion is undoubtedly the main driver behind 5G. The primary parameters of Data Rates on which 5G networks can be judged are Aggregate data rate (total amount of data the network can serve), Edge rate (worst case data rate per user), and Peak rate (best case data rate per user).

2. Latency

The Current 4G roundtrip latencies are on the order of about 15 ms. Although this latency is sufficient for most current services, anticipated 5G cloud-based applications such as Google Stadia — Cloud Gaming platform will require seemingly real-time feedback loops. Therefore, 5G should support a round trip latency of about 1 ms, an order of magnitude faster than 4G.

How does 5G solve the problem?

In addition to the highly visible need for more network capacity, several other factors make 5G interesting, including the potentially disruptive “big three” 5G technologies: ultra-densification, mmWave, and massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO). Let’s take a quick look at them.

A quick look at Ultra Densification

Source: CSIRO: Simulations of Ultra-dense small cell networks
  1. Thereby, by increasing the number of network nodes, the base-station-to-terminal distances will be shorter.
  2. Due to shorter base-station-to-terminal distances, there will be an improvement in achievable data rates.

A quick look at mmWave

Source: Qualcomm

A Quick look into massive MIMO

A Glimpse into the Possibilities

The way I see 5G network is to be an accelerator for technologies that already exist with us. There are endless possibilities with the dense and fast-pacing 5G wireless networks. So let’s look at some of my favorite picks.

Edge Computing

Edge computing is a method of optimizing cloud computing systems by performing data processing at the edge of the network or near the source of the data. Imagine you ordering a pizza from your beloved restaurant, but your neighbor cooks and delivers it for you. This means faster delivery. Edge computing is very similar to that.

Autonomous Driving

The use of 5G wireless networks can bring Self-driving cars closer to reality. The key ingredient currently missing from Autonomous vehicles is High-performance wireless network connectivity for low latency.

A Visualization of Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) standard

Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of Things (IoT) is another extensive field for development using a supercharged 5G wireless network. IoTs are already all around us from wrist-bands to our cars collecting huge amounts of data from millions of devices and sensors. Crucial IoT real-time processes such as data collection, processing, transmission, control, and analytics can be accelerated by an efficient network.

Drone and Security Operation

The number of operative drones is foreseen to grow over 18.1 million in 2025, driving flight authorities, and society to explore solutions to overview all drone users and the traffic. Rapid technology progresses on the propulsions, sensors, and navigation and guidance systems led to reliable drone platforms. Consequently, drones must acquire data in real-time. With the need to overcome current RF limitations for increasing flight endurances, size of data sets and video streaming capabilities, alternative control capabilities, 5G wireless networks are required.

Amazon delivers packages to customers using drones


  1. J. G. Andrews et al., “What Will 5G Be?,” in IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, vol. 32, no. 6, pp. 1065–1082, June 2014, doi: 10.1109/JSAC.2014.2328098.
  2. X. Ge, S. Tu, G. Mao, C. Wang and T. Han, “5G Ultra-Dense Cellular Networks,” in IEEE Wireless Communications, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 72–79, February 2016, doi: 10.1109/MWC.2016.7422408.



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Krishnakanth Alagiri

Krishnakanth Alagiri

Engineering ⚙️ + DevOps 🐳 + Data Privacy 🕵️. GitHub: kanth.tech/github