Right when we were just getting used to 4G LTE speeds on our mobile devices, 5G technology starts peeking its head around the corner.
That corner, however, is still a bit of a ways off into the future. We won't be having to upgrade our smartphones for the latest speeds anytime soon as we'll have about a decade until then.
That will be just in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Japan's NTT DoCoMo hopes to launch what will probably be the first commercially available 5G system when the world's athletes and spectators convene in the city. They're on track actually to make it happen, too. Recently, the Japanese telecommunications giant said it had successfully completed 5G trials in real-world environments.
The company and its hardware partners, which include Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, Huawei and Fujitsu, have been working together for the past two months on several tests to make the technology work. Using beam forming technology that focuses radio waves in a specific direction and beam tracking technology to control that direction towards a mobile device's location, the group has been able to reach mobile data transmission speeds that are at least 2 Gbps.
During one of the trials in October at Tokyo's chic Roppongi Hills high-rise complex, the Japanese company's 5G tests reached a blazing-fast ultra-high-speed data transmission rate of 2 Gbps. More recently in South Korea with Samsung, both companies were able to achieve a 2.5 Gbps data transfer speed in a vehicle traveling at 60 kilometers per hour. With Fujitsu, DoCoMo confirmed that they successfully used a multi-base station system reaching speeds averaging 11 Gbps among four separate mobile devices.
Comparatively, 4G speeds top out at around 12 Mbps in real-world use. Such a huge jump in data delivery speeds can mean the difference between a standard YouTube video stuttering while traveling in a moving vehicle to seamless 4K streaming of content, all to and from a mobile device.
In fact, 5G technology has the capacity to even deliver holographic images, too. With Microsoft's HoloLens, Oculus Rift, and a handful of other augmented and virtual reality gadgets from other vendors, 5G's timing to the market may just prove to be the best time for all these technologies to converge.