In 2019, the main mobile phone manufacturers included 5G compatibility with their new smartphone models. Since then, that combination of number and letter has not stopped flooding the “word of mouth” and the media around the world, generating multiple opinions (some more skeptical than others), but above all, giving rise to great expectations. Before a new technological paradigm in communications. Apart from the brief captions, these images do not provide much information about this technology, just futuristic designs that seem to be taken from a science fiction movie and look good as the cover of your next technological PowerPoint. However, we will try to explain what this technology consists of and tell you what is true about these images about what 5G brings with it and how it will affect the Internet of Things (IoT), specifically Smart Cities.
What Is 5G, And How Is It Different From It’s Predecessor 4G
5G is the fifth generation of mobile communication technologies and standards, the successor to 4G, which uses LTE technology. This new generation brings numerous improvements, mainly download speed (how much data can I receive per second), latency (what delay exists between when I ask for information until it arrives) and the number of connected devices in the same area, among other benefits.
Returning to the theme of the futuristic images of 5G that we mentioned in the introduction, it can be seen that the multitude of interconnected points and lines that appear in these images are associated with the large number of devices that this new technology allows serving. So there is a technological and truthful background behind such attractive designs.
How Does 5G Affect Smart Cities
Once we have seen the benefits of 5G, we must understand and analyze which of them may be a potential opportunity for technological solutions to be implemented in the future. Focusing on the Internet of Things ecosystem, and specifically on Smart Cities, we will analyze which of these advantages are relevant in this environment.
First of all, high download speed, one of the most talked-about features, is not entirely relevant for Smart Cities and IoT in general. This is because the volume of data sent from the IoT devices to the cloud, and vice versa, are messages of reduced size and are also usually periodic, so they do not require a continuous flow of data as a streaming video transmission. Likewise, the low latency is not a remarkable feature either since, due to the periodicity of sending, it is not critical to receive data 1 millisecond or 1 second later.
However, the high connection capacity of devices per square kilometer that this communication technology supports does represent a great advance and will allow the deployment of endless IoT devices without worrying about reaching a capacity limit or conflicting. With the rest of the devices and technologies that may be working simultaneously with the 5G network.
In turn, the energy savings in the devices that this communication technology entails will allow them to extend their useful life since, among all the operations carried out by an IoT device (measuring data, processing them, etc.), it transmits the information ( or remain listening to receive it), is one of the tasks that consume the most energy since the radio transceiver must be turned on to do so. This reduction in energy consumption implies a prolongation of the battery life of the devices that will have consequences on the sustainability of this type of solution since, by increasing its useful life, the frequency of battery and device replacement is reduced.
The Importance Of The Type Of Network Used
In addition to the benefits mentioned, 5G has a greater impact on Smart Cities than on other IoT applications because IoT devices in a Smart City are mostly in the air. Free, monitoring and collecting information on different variables such as air quality, mobility, humidity, presence controls, etc.
Why is this detail important? Because the frequency in which 5G is going to operate is going to be in the 3.7 GHz band and, in a wave, the higher its frequency, the greater its attenuation when propagating and, consequently, the obstacles that arise will affect it to a greater extent. Find. This is a drawback emerging from using this technology for many applications. In indoor environments, the existence of architectural barriers such as walls, walls, ceilings, etc., in indoor environments, will cause an attenuation greater than that which could be generated in other ways technologies such as 4G.
However, in the case of Smart Cities, because the deployment of infrastructures is carried out for the most part in open spaces, this does not have to be an obstacle, and therefore the benefits that 5G brings are much greater. Then its drawbacks. The human being is insatiable. Every time we squeeze more and more of the technology that we have, we continually demand new and better functionalities: greater speed, better quality, better processing, longer battery life, etc.
We must begin to consider adopting 5G as the new communication technology for current devices and networks for all these reasons. Due to the undeniably connected future of our cities, it is an obligatory task to focus new infrastructures, fleets, devices and platforms on this technology. But make no mistake, this is not definitive technology. In a few years, it will fall short as has happened with previous technologies, and 6G will knock on our door with another new revolution.
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