While he admits he was only old enough for kindergarten when 1G launched, SaskTel Technology Director Jeremy Gabel has built his career on understanding where today’s technology came from and where it’s going in the future.
“5G is exciting because it’s an entirely new network,” said Gabel. “It will be faster and more flexible. It will allow billions of new devices to be connected to each other.”
The Evolution of Cellular Communications
As we prepare for the fifth generation of cellular communications to officially launch in Spring 2022, it’s pretty incredible to look back at where technology was over 40 years ago. The first generation introduced us to wireless phones. These were the original brick phones that were only used for talking. Then in 1991, the second generation brought forth better sound quality, better security, and the introduction of services such as text messaging and emails. As technology developed quickly, only seven years later we were able to stay connected in more places and over a greater distance with higher speed transmissions. Then in 2008, we were brought to where we are today, having access to smartphones and the power to send data, surf the internet, watch and transfer videos, listen to live streamed music, and access social media.
The Significance of 5G
You may be thinking, what else do we need beyond 4G mobile networks? Well, 5G networks were designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together with one of the fastest technologies the world has seen. According to Gabel, “5G introduces three enhancements to 4G that will set the world stage for more devices, faster communication, and higher speeds.”
Three Enhancements of the 5G Network
1. The first is increased broadband to allow for very high downloading speeds for new applications like 3D 360-degree-view video streaming. The virtual experience will be transformed by becoming more realistic, immersive, and interactive.
“With respect to business,” said Gabel, “the increased broadband is one of the key drivers. In Saskatchewan where we have a greater rural area, it's going to be an opportunity to deliver fibre-like speeds in the future to where we don't have our fibre optic or fibre to the premises networks.”
2. The second is ultra-high density which has more to do with connectivity or the number of devices that can communicate with each other. We’re already more connected than ever through over five billion devices. With 5G, that number is expected to quickly reach 50 to 100 billion devices worldwide. Instead of it always being people communicating through smartphones, devices and machines will also be able to talk directly to each other. This is known as the Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to the physical devices all over the world that are connected to the internet. An example is the lightbulb you can turn on and off using an app on your smartphone.
According to Gabel, we're going to see a market trending toward IoT. “In fact, we're seeing it now. There are more connected things providing data insights and allowing for automation of processes or reporting of data. 5G will provide the opportunity for more devices to be on the network and that will help drive businesses and help them grow.”
3. The third innovation offered by 5G is a reduction in latency or how much time it takes for a signal to travel to its destination and back. Essentially, it’s the delay between when you take an action and when you see the result. The less delay, the better.
“Businesses that are looking to start using any of the cutting-edge services, particularly things like driverless vehicles, augmented reality, or virtual reality, will benefit from lower latency,” said Gabel.
With the larger launch of 5G happening in Spring 2022, SaskTel is looking forward to revolutionizing the way we deliver our network and broadband solutions. Gabel summarized by saying, “It's not so much that we're bringing all the cool things to market, but the network itself is going to allow a lot of businesses to revolutionize the way they operate and deliver services. There are a lot of entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan doing some neat stuff who are really going to shine.”
If you have any questions about our products and services, please contact your SaskTel representative, request a call back, or call 1.844.SASKTEL (1.844.727.5835).
Revised Blog with updates from March 16, 2021.
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