5G is set to take the world by storm. Promising faster speeds when compared to 4G and 4.5G networks, 5G has the potential to boost a number of technologies. These include VR and AR, robotics, autonomous driving, AI and machine learning applications. But how far away is 5G from being commercially available? Well, Dialog Axiata might have an answer to that.
The Telecom provider carried out the first 5G pilot transmission in Sri Lanka a few days ago. The transmission was carried out using fully functional and 5G standard compliant equipment at a commercial grade base station.
If you recall, back in May 2017, Dialog carried out South Asia’s first successful trial run of Massive MIMO technology. At the time, Dialog achieved a speed of upto 716Mbps over a singe 20Mhz LTE carrier. Then in August 2017, Dialog Axiata successfully carried out the first 5G test in all of South Asia. They achieved a speed upwards of 35Gbps, making them the first Telecommunication provider at the time to do so.
According to the trials, Dialog reportedly achieved data speeds of approximately 2Gbps in a real-world setting. Keeping to that, the trial was carried out using real-world base stations as well as commercial grade 5G home gateway routers. These routers are able to deliver 5G speeds to a number of wireless devices. This means that if implemented, users with 5G compatible devices can experience these speeds. So does that mean we can expect to have 5G connectivity over the weekend? Well not really.
For starters, 5G is expensive
Apart from the cost of setting up infrastructure from the telecom providers, there’s also the cost of the 5G devices themselves. We previously wrote about how Pete Lau – CEO of OnePlus emphasized that the upcoming OnePlus devices that are 5G compliant will cost around $200-300 more than the current ones.
This is because of the technology that goes into 5G devices. It is particularly affected by the different frequencies that telecom providers use to distribute their 5G coverage. This can be overcome by adding multiple antennas to a 5G device but that also means designing a device to house all the antennas in a way that the user can hold the device from any angle without the signal being blocked.
If you also recall, the ITU’s specifications for 5G mentioned that a telecom operator has to provide a 20Gbps downstream and 10Gbps upstream from a single base station. In addition, telecom operators would also have to support approximately 1 million devices per square kilometer.
Overall, the successful trial run of a 5G network by Dialog Axiata is indeed to be commended. This essentially paves the way for commercial deployment as well. Though as we said, it won’t happen overnight. There’s a number of logistics that need to be sorted out before 5G is commercially available Realistically, we’re a a couple of years (maybe longer) away from having a fully 5G Sri Lanka. But at least it’s a start.
Do you think 5G would be viable in Sri Lanka? We would love to hear your thoughts.