5G: World’s first commercial services promise ‘great leap’

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By Virginia Harrison

South Korea and the US have last week launched the world’s first commercial 5G services, promising a new wave of capabilities for smartphone users.

Samsung said its Galaxy S10 5G device will offer speeds up to 20 times faster than current phones as it began selling the handsets last Friday.

Countries are racing to build 5G networks that will be crucial for future tech such as driverless cars.

Nations are also working to resolve security concerns tied to the networks.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth-generation of mobile internet connectivity. Users will get more data faster, with less delay. It also promises wider coverage and more stable connections.

Ed Barton, chief television and entertainment analyst at Ovum, said the shift from today’s 4G networks to 5G will be significant.

He said first-generation or 1G networks enabled voice, 2G brought text, 3G static images or photos, and 4G enabled video.

“We’re expecting the leap from 4G to 5G to be a much greater leap than ever before.”

South Korea and the US have this week launched the world’s first commercial 5G services, promising a new wave of capabilities for smartphone users.

Samsung said its Galaxy S10 5G device will offer speeds up to 20 times faster than current phones as it began selling the handsets on Friday.

Countries are racing to build 5G networks that will be crucial for future tech such as driverless cars.

Nations are also working to resolve security concerns tied to the networks.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth-generation of mobile internet connectivity. Users will get more data faster, with less delay. It also promises wider coverage and more stable connections.

Ed Barton, chief television and entertainment analyst at Ovum, said the shift from today’s 4G networks to 5G will be significant.

He said first-generation or 1G networks enabled voice, 2G brought text, 3G static images or photos, and 4G enabled video.

“We’re expecting the leap from 4G to 5G to be a much greater leap than ever before.”

South Korea and the US have this week launched the world’s first commercial 5G services, promising a new wave of capabilities for smartphone users.

Samsung said its Galaxy S10 5G device will offer speeds up to 20 times faster than current phones as it began selling the handsets on Friday.

Countries are racing to build 5G networks that will be crucial for future tech such as driverless cars.

Nations are also working to resolve security concerns tied to the networks.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth-generation of mobile internet connectivity. Users will get more data faster, with less delay. It also promises wider coverage and more stable connections.

Ed Barton, chief television and entertainment analyst at Ovum, said the shift from today’s 4G networks to 5G will be significant.

He said first-generation or 1G networks enabled voice, 2G brought text, 3G static images or photos, and 4G enabled video.

“We’re expecting the leap from 4G to 5G to be a much greater leap than ever before.”

What about security concerns?

Much discussion about 5G infrastructure has centred around possible security risks, namely the participation of China’s Huawei.

Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecoms equipment, has faced resistance from foreign governments over the risk that its technology could be used for espionage.

The US, Australia and New Zealand have all blocked local firms from using Huawei gear in 5G networks.

In principle, controlling the technology that sits at the heart of vital communications networks gives an operator like Huawei the capacity to conduct espionage or disrupt communications.

This becomes a bigger problem as more things – from autonomous vehicles to domestic appliances – become connected to the internet.

The US argues Huawei could use malicious software updates to spy on those using 5G, pointing to a Chinese law that says organisations must “support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work”.

Additionally, IDC’s Mr Batra said one of the fundamental differences between 4G and 5G networks is the ability for remote control which raises “potential security concerns”.

Mr Batra said with 4G, software and hardware were very tightly coupled. In 5G networks, hardware is separated from the software.

“That allows for remote control… of the network assets. All of these things can be managed virtually, and that makes it challenging in terms of security.”

Still, he said authorities around the world are working with operators to address these concerns and “we haven’t really seen any hard proof in terms of what is the issue”.

 

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