New technical specifications for 5G services have been laid out by the International Telecommunications Union, which underline how big an impact the technology could have in the future.
The draft document contains several eye-catching figures, perhaps none more so than the requirement that 5G base stations should have the capacity to support up to one million device connections over a square mile.
The inclusion of this requirement is no doubt related to the importance 5G is expected to have in providing the coverage for Internet of Things deployments, particularly in cities where a mix of phones, cars and items like lampposts will all vie for connectivity.
To meet this huge demand the ITU also says all 5G base station should offer top level speeds of 20Gbps download speeds and 10Gbps uploads, which would then be split between all users connected to the base station.
This is the minimum speed requirement that ITU has put forward, so it could be far in excess of this, potentially offering end users speed of several hundreds megabytes a second.
However, despite such high speed from the base station, the specifications say end users ‘only' require speeds of at least 100mbps download and 50Mbps upload.
This is still a vast improvement on most mobile connections, though, and, as they are set as a minimum, most users could expect to receive speeds far in excess of the base set by the ITU.
Another notable set of figures refers to latency, with the document stating that enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) services should have latency of just 0.4ms, compared to 20ms on current LTE services.
Meanwhile ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC), which may be used for IoT services or self-driving cars, must be just 0.1ms.
The document also states that 5G should work when connections are being made to vehicles moving up to 500mph.
The ITU specifications are not gospel, but will most likely be adopted in their broad form and therefore set the parameters the industry must work towards.
This will of course take time but the ITU, and the wider telecoms industry, expects the first 5G services to be live by 2020, with wider uptake by 2022. It could help bring clarity to the topic too, with the lack of clear standards causing some confusion over what 5G will mean for the future.
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