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LTE technology has hardly outgrown childhood, but its successor is already waiting in the wings. The 5G wireless communication standard is supposed to do everything better than LTE – and open up whole new possibilities for industry.

Bigger, faster, farther

Outside of big cities and agglomerations, high-speed Internet remains the exception in Germany and other parts of the industrial world. More than 30 percent of households here in Germany do not have connections reaching speeds of 50 MB per second. And what poses an inconvenience for consumers can be detrimental to business. Those who need high-speed connections are relying on the high-speed LTE wireless standard, which supports data transfer rates of up to 150 MB/second.

Now just six years after the launch of high-speed mobile Internet, the next generation is waiting in the wings: 5G, with performance levels compared that far outpace its 4G and LTE predecessors. This new standard can achieve 100 times the data rates, at 1,000 times the capacity. And the energy consumption per transferred byte is only about one-thousandth of that of LTE.

5G to connect the Internet of Things

From today's perspective, this sounds like almost infinite possibilities, and perhaps also like an exaggeration. But when we assume that the Internet of Things will soon be allowing more than 100 billion things to communicate amongst themselves, these figures begin to look more realistic, because the network utilization by communicating machines will be far greater. Remember that sensors, digital twins and cobots are constantly “talking” to each other – which generates massive piles of data.

Rapid information-sharing will also be more important in the future than it is now. In a smart factory where robots and machines control themselves, a slow data connection can be fatal. Here, 5G is not simply a distant wish, but an urgently needed condition for processes to operate.

Our hunger for data requires 5G

Many applications in the future will also have a higher data requirement, such as videoconferencing with multiple participants in ultra-HD quality, or virtual reality applications with complex infrastructure. Think of a surgery robot controlled by a surgeon on the other side of the globe, or networked, self-driving cars that share information about the route over high-speed connections.

The transition to the new 5G technology is not expected to take place on a large scale until 2020 – but then in full force. According to German Federal Transportation Minister Alexander Dobrindt, Germany will be the first country to install 5G across the board. And a 5G test city will soon be launching.Asia wants to get started a little sooner: 5G is intended to be operational for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, while Korea has set the 2018 Winter Olympics as their target date. The necessary conditions for fast, secure, reliable business communications and IoT are smart networks and interoperability. Broadband solutions and network technologies are the focus of the showcase at CeBIT.