5G is the fifth generation cellular network technology which is also called 5G NR (5G New Radio) defined by the industry association 3GPP. Industry 3GPP known implementations in Zambia include:
GSM – 2G and 2.5G which carried Edge/GPRS. UMTS – 3G with the HSPA
LTE – 4G and the Advanced LTE like partially implemented Zamtel 4.5G
3GPP is the 3rd Generation Partnership Project and acts as a standards organization that develops protocols for mobile telephony Its first phase was in 1992 with GSM. In late 2018 3GPP defined any software that uses 5G New Radio as 5G.
This follows that under the ITU requirements 3GPP protocols that is 2G, 3G and 4G and their respective associated technologies (such as GSM, UMTS, LTE, LTE Advanced Pro, and others) will be submitted for use under 5G.
However 5G worldwide implementation is only but a baby and scanty with only a few countries taking the lead.
The South Korean companies Samsung and LG, the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, the US companies Qualcomm, Intel and Interdigital, the European companies Ericsson and Nokia and the Japanese company Sharp are the major 5G patent holders
Before 5G become a reality to a Zambian consumer two things will happen: Mobile operators such as Vodafone, Zamtel, Airtel, Hai, and MTN will have to upgrade there networks. Currently, the 4G network is readily available in the most part of Urban and regional areas.
The 5G network represents a highly complex and heterogeneous network that integrates the massive amount of sensor nodes and diversity of devices such as macro and small cells with different radio access technologies such as GSM, WCDMA, LTE, and Wi-Fi that coexist with one another.
Secondly, mobile phone makers will need to make handsets with built-in 5G radios ready to hook up to networks. Presently, the only mobile device in Zambia capable of 5G is the newly launched Samsung Galaxy S10+.
Promising Features of 5G Network
The 5G will feature increased network speed, and machines, cars, city infrastructure beside people will be connected.
It is expected that 5G networks will have always-on capabilities and to be energy efficient, which requires new protocols and access technologies.
5G will enable using of the existing spectrum efficiently with network capacity increase and higher throughput rates.
Software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) will be very important for operators in order to scale their networks quickly in-migration from 4G to 5G.