With the dawn of the cellular revolution in the early 2000s, the ability to communicate as well as access information drastically improved. We had access to maps, contacts, and an entire world of knowledge at our fingertips. Setting up wireless communication systems was difficult and cumbersome, involving a large investment of time and resources.
Deploying 3G, 4G, or The “G” in 5G stands for generation. 5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology. 5G is characterized by bigger channels (which improves throughput), lower latencies allowing for real time applications, and the ability to connect more devices (which is increasingly important as the number of devices has grown exponentially). More connectivity also required coordination amongst a large number of parties and was generally left to those with specialized knowledge and training in network deployment. Automation in this industry was still in its nascent stages, so the hardware and software systems that enabled mobile connectivity were built manually, by specialized teams, over a long period of time.
Alef is reshaping the connectivity landscape by bringing the capability of push-button edge connectivity to businesses and developers globally. Traditional custom cellular deployments take at least six months. These deployments typically involve multiple teams navigating complex regulatory requirements from spectrum to connectivity to compliance and reporting. Alef takes care of these complexities for developers and deploying cellular connectivity for your private network is as easy as pushing a button.
From Telegram to Smartphone. As we gained a deeper understanding of technology, humanity developed hardware that enabled communication at increasing distances. For the longest time humanity was tethered to a physical location with the telegram, then the telephone, then the fax, and even the personal computer.
We were also accustomed to the ever present dial tone that ruled our connectivity experience. When we picked up the phone or dialed out on a modem, there was the ever present tone that signaled we were connected to the telephone network.
With the advent of semiconductor technology, we were able to continually miniaturize communication technology which eventually led to an explosion of wireless smartphones and apps at the push of a button, that enabled humans to roam free and untethered from a desk.
A T1 In Your Pocket. The joke that John Donovan, ex CTO and CEO of AT&T, used during many presentations was that with 3G smartphones we each had a T1 in our pockets, connecting us to the internet at a maximum of 1.5Mbps. A T1 was a technology in the 90’s that enabled a “blazing” fast internet connection that required insane amounts of hardware to enable – not something that can fit into pockets.
As of 2021, 5G is the next generation of high-speed wireless internet and clocks in at a top speed of 160,000 Mbps. It surpasses 4G in speed by at least a factor of 10, and is even faster than your wired broadband connection at home.
For a network to be considered “5G,” it has to conform to standards set forth by governing authorities similar to the 3GPP standards. One of those specifications within the standard is for upload and download speeds. Each 5G base station or access point has to support speeds at least as fast as the following:
- 5G peak download speed: 20 Gb/s (gigabits per second), or 20,480 Mb/s (megabits per second)
- 5G peak upload speed: 10 Gb/s (gigabits per second), or 10,240 Mb/s (megabits per second)
- 4G/LTE peak download speed: .090 Gb/s (gigabits per second), or ~90 Mb/s (megabits per second)
- 4G/LTE peak upload speed: .025 Gb/s (gigabits per second), or ~25 Mb/s (megabits per second)
Similar to storage and compute, connectivity had been compacted and shrunk down into something so small that it could fit into your pants pocket. Smartphones could do everything a personal computer could do while being light enough to carry around.
Business At The Speed of Wireless. This is perhaps one of the most iconic gifs that shows how applications have evolved over time and how the smartphone has essentially absorbed multiple functions such as an address book, fax machines, telephone, maps, books, and more. Without having to be tied to a desk, businesses can now operate at the speed of wireless. These wireless smartphones enabled humanity to conduct business at a global scale unlike anytime before. Documents, workflows, and orders were and are being digitized at an increasing rate. Gone are the days of physical anything. If the workflow required paper, it had to go.
As the smartphone evolved, we saw communication equipment that was designed for business quickly transform into smaller and smaller consumer devices. The BlackBerry started as the number one choice for busy executives and quickly evolved into the favorite amongst general consumers for texting. In 2007 Apple introduced the first iPhone and turned the industry upside down.
Information technology groups across all companies and industries struggled with the exploding number of devices used to access corporate information and networks. This forced IT departments to adopt “Bring Your Own Device” policies that enabled employees to bring their own favorite devices onto corporate networks. This change in policy enabled business to flow even faster because employee productivity increases through comfort and familiarity with devices.
The Global Mobile Economy. These devices, and the many apps that soon followed, changed the way we communicate, conduct business, interact socially, pass time, and even learn. Technology has long been a driver of economic development throughout the world, but it is only recently that mobile technology – and smartphones in particular – have been significant global economic factors.
According to the Mobile Economy 2020 GSMA report, the mobile economy contributed an estimated $4.1 trillion to the international economy in 2019. This represented about 4.7% of global gross domestic product. This number includes more than 16 million jobs created and 14 million indirect jobs.
Looking to the future, there is more automation, more apps, and more private networks that will be deployed with greater complexity and tighter timelines. Additionally, devices themselves will be communicating with each other. As an example, connectivity is now coming standard with vehicles and the global Automotive Cellular V2X (C-V2X) Modules market size is projected to reach US$ 7.3 trillion by 2028.
There are only a couple of major carriers who have the capability to deploy 5G. And they control the timeline and costs. If we are to enable the masses to connect, customize, communicate and share information, the ability for Private 5G connectivity needs to be as simple as the push of a button!