Even though 4G networks are still limping slowly into existence around the world, promising peak data speeds in the gigabits-per-second range, Samsung has revealed technology it says will enable 5G networks by 2020. The data speeds are in the “several” tens of gigabits per second range.
Samsung’s system uses millimeter wave radio frequencies, a highly promising technology. One of the chief difficulties with radio signals like this is that their antennas tend to be highly directional–they favor transmitting and receiving signals in one direction. That’s not much use when you’re mobile, as you could be pointing your phone in any direction. Samsung seems to have created a practical array antenna, however, made of 64 tiny sub-antennas. In lab conditions the company’s achieved over 1 GB per second over 2 kilometer ranges, and this means the system could be improved in terms of speed and reliability by 2020.
Faster mobile data is likely to be critical in developing next-generation mobile systems for a number of reasons, including the arrival of super HD TV services (which will likely drive up expectation of mobile video quality) and more real-time gaming, medical imaging and more.