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5G on course for 2019 launch

The 3GPP — a mobile systems standards body — has now ratified the 5G New Radio (NR) specifications, marking a crucial step in the development of this new telecommunications standard.

This first 5G NR standard opens the door to large-scale tests using existing infrastructure. 5G networks could potentially be deployed commercially by 2019, but work on all the technical specs for 5G NR is not expected to be completed until the summer of 2018.

For ordinary users, it’s thought that a 5G connection will be at least ten times faster than 4G. 5G is also expected to enable new uses such as streaming in ultra-high definition, the more widespread adoption of the Internet of Things, the development of virtual/augmented reality and the (more or less) autonomous car.

This will evidently require new networks and devices. To that end, Qualcomm has already demo-ed a 5G connection on a modem installed in a test smartphone. This Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G has already achieved speeds of over 1Gbps (gigabits per second) for downloads on the 28GHz millimeter wave frequency band. The company is aiming to get up to 5Gbps in 2018 and launch the first 5G-compatible devices in the first half of 2019.

A slew of announcements about 5G, its networks, content and security is expected at the next Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, from February 26 to March 1, 2018.