What 5G wireless devices will do that 4G cannot

What 5G wireless devices will do that 4G cannot

In the world's metropolitan centers, 5G engineers promise that mobile devices will bring their users the functionality of workstations from wherever they sit. But getting users the necessary bandwidth may be a challenge even after 5G premieres, which is one reason why these devices may not end up behaving like ordinary smartphones.

The challenges of making a handheld device receive several simultaneous signals from sub-millimeter wave frequencies, remain extraordinary. They're as daunting, and perhaps as seemingly insurmountable, as the ones NASA engineers faced in the mid-1960s after the Apollo 1 fire, as they raced to catch up with President John F. Kennedy's end-of-the-decade deadline for a safe moon landing.

Also: What is 5G? Everything you need to know

Anyone looking to get a first-person glimpse of engineers working to overcome these new obstacles, might have taken the opportunity last March to visit the campus of the University of Bristol's Smart Internet Lab.

Wonder world

It was the modern-day equivalent of the famous 1939 New York City World's Fair demonstration of the wonders of network television. Here, in partnership with Nokia and BT, the Lab gave a public square demonstration of what it would be like for an individual to receive data at the speeds promised by 5G wireless.

Strolling around the grounds, you'd see demo participants wearing virtual reality headsetslooking as though they were trying out for yet another "Walking Dead" sequel. In fact, they were experiencing not just the speed but the responsiveness of high-definition video sent by wireless servers connected to local transmitter hubs via 5G frequencies. You'd also have seen the results of a sophisticated 3D simulation depicting the entire city of Bristol, recreating the transmissivity and connectivity parameters for any two points in the city's space, and working to resolve the issues of eliminating dead zones.

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