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Science and Tech Spotlight: 5G Wireless

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Technical Report

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United States General Accounting Office Washington United States

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What is it 5G is a suite of fifth-generation wireless technologies that has the potential to greatly improve mobile communication in several ways. It may lead to faster and more responsive signals from cell phones and other devices. Moreover, it could deliver more reliable connections, higher energy efficiency, the ability to accommodate more devices, and faster network response times also known as low latency. These improvements could enable transformative applications such as self-driving vehicles, smart manufacturing and agriculture, and remote medical treatment. As with 4G, the most important innovations may not be conceived of until the network is fully implemented. How does it work 5G is expected to achieve these improvements in part by using more of the radio spectrum. The current 4G network usesradio frequencies less than 2.6 gigahertz GHz, which are lower on the spectrum. 5G will begin using higher frequencies, including mid-band up to 6GHz and high-band, also known as millimeter wave over 24GHz. Higher frequencies can support higher data rates, potentially enabling 5G to be over 20 times faster than 4G. However, as a signals frequency gets higher, its range and ability to penetrate walls and other barriers decreases. To help overcome this obstacle, one approach is to use smaller, more numerous cell antennas, along with advanced technologies. For example, researchers are developing approaches that would enable each installation to use more antennas and to aim signals to and from antennas, potentially resulting in less interference and more energy efficiency. Each spectrum band will be best suited to different applications. For example, mid-bands combination of range and data capacity makes it suitable for what is called ultra-reliable and low-latency communication, which is required for applications like self-driving vehicles.

Subject Categories:

  • Radio Communications

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