Preparing for the next-generation wireless network
July 25, 2016
by Mark Ollig

Today in the US, we are using nearly, 350 million smartphones, computing tablets, and electronic wearables.

Amazingly, these devices carry more than 100,000 times the voice/data traffic than was generated in 2008.

It’s been estimated, by 2020, the entire planet will have 200 billion devices connected to wireless networks.

These devices will include smart-sensors attached onto electronic gadgets, appliances, machines, cars, and just about every other mechanism you can think of.

These new smart-devices; known as the Internet of Things (IoT), will of course, be connected to the Internet.

Many of these IoT in the future will require “ultra-high-speed” transmission systems, and a larger chunk of the radio frequency spectrum or bandwidth, for the wireless networks supporting them.

Improved wireless network capacity will also be needed for the continuously increasing number of smartphone, and other wireless computing devices we use.

Most of us are using 4G, or fourth-generation cellular data technology, on our smartphones.

The LTE we see next to 4G means: “Long Term Evolution,” which is an agreed upon industry standard for the specific methods used with high-speed wireless data transmission.

Some examples of digital “data” used with our smartphones and smartdevices include: voice calls, up/downloading of photos and video, email, texting, medical and other telemetries, and streaming live video, such as a Facebook Live session.

If you’re playing Pokémon GO on your smartphone (which uses augmented reality and the Global Positioning System), you are sending and receiving data over a wireless network.

Please be careful playing Pokémon GO when you are outside.

It’s estimated 98 percent of the citizens in this country have access to 4G/LTE wireless broadband data services.

Less than two weeks ago, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced it received $400 million via the White House Advanced Wireless Research Initiative.

The $400 million was pledged by private and public sources.

The funds will assist “in experimenting with and testing novel technologies, applications, and services capable of making wireless communications faster, smarter, more responsive and more robust,” says the NSF website.

The NSF acknowledges the need for improving wireless technologies for future vehicle-to-vehicle communications, self-driving cars, and smart cities.

I’m ok with wireless smart cities; however, I am still not comfortable with the reliability of current self-driving car technology.

Immersive video and virtual-reality content for enhancing personal experiences and productivity, telemedicine, and remote surgery, also benefits from increased wireless data speeds, according to the NSF.

The “next big thing” in wireless data will be 5G, or fifth- generation cellular technology, which reportedly provides 100 times the speed, and greater bandwidth than 4G.

The Federal Communications Commission has already freed up radio spectrum for 5G technology to be deployed over.

Currently, testing of 5G is being performed by several wireless carriers. The final 5G technological standards still need to be agreed upon. I’ve read the telecom industry foresees an official 5G standard by 2019. By 2020, Samsung says it will be marketing 5G.

South Korea has scheduled to rollout trial services of 5G next year, and begin offering the service by 2020.

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and other wireless carriers are now deep into test trials, as they prepare their networks for 5G.

You and I should be able to start using 5G in our smart devices by late 2019 or 2020.

Using 5G will be quite the experience for us.

Imagine downloading a full-length, high-definition movie to our wireless smartphone or computing tablet in 5 seconds or less.

With an ultra-fast wireless network, smart machines in factories, for example, connected to the Internet (as an IoT), will communicate their operating status, run self-diagnostics, and repair or perform their own software program updates – very quickly.

I would think (hope) a human would be involved in monitoring this.

Using real-time video chatting apps like: Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Tango, and even one called ooVoo, should have noticeably improved resolution using a 5G network.

During the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona during February, demonstrations of 5G technologies showed how it will improve the operation of robotics, building security systems; autos linked the Internet, and energy management systems.

The NSF announced $50 million of the $400 million will be used for advanced wireless testing platforms in four cities, beginning in 2017.

The $350 million balance will be applied to the wireless technology and research to be used for supporting these testing platforms.

The US Federal Technology Agency’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will participate in a 5G mmWave (millimeter Wave) Channel Alliance discussion during the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) conference Dec. 4.

These discussions will center on the coordination of 5G communications and its standards.

The 5G mmWave Channel Model Alliance Wiki platform is located at: http://tinyurl.com/bits-5Gmm.

“It’s still early in the 5G game; however, the excitement is beginning,” yours truly wrote in a March 17, 2014 column.

More than two years later, many of the 5G players have made their first strategic openings; like chess pieces being played.

Let’s watch as the 5G game now unfolds before us.

Read my daily Twitter messages using your current 4G wireless devices, via my @bitsandbytes user name.

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