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How 5G should stop network latency

  AT & T CTO Andre Fuetsch talks about the company's 5G plans in September.

AT & T CTO Andre Fuetsch talks about the company's 5G plans in September.

Stephen Shankland / CNET

Almost everything you hear about 5G shows how higher data speeds can help you download videos faster or update your apps. Well, whoop-de-do. Faster data is helpful, but another 5G advantage could actually be a bigger problem: reducing latency in network communication. The latency is the time that is a response to sent information, e.g. For example, the delay between the moment you try to launch a space intruder and the moment that the Internet server hosting the game tells your app if you were successful. Latency might support 5G mobile Provide networks that allow us to do completely new things, and not just slightly improve what we do now. Possible are multiplayer mobile gaming, factory robots, self-driving cars, and other tasks that require a quick response – all areas where today's 4G networks are having difficulty, or not at all.

"Latency will really bring new real-time experiences that we've never done before," said Andre Andschet, AT & T's chief technology officer

Well, at least it will work if it works as promised. The 5G hype has been heavy for years, the really low 5G latencies will not be reached until 2020 – and how many years have we heard about how telemedicine will allow surgeons to operate on patients in a different time zone?

Skepticism is certainly appropriate. However, the latency is extremely important and improves the operation so that the low latency of the 5G is not discarded. Imagine how much faster hard drives are than magnetic tape reels from the mainframe era, or how flash memory drives replace Pokey hard disk drives in laptops these days. If we eliminate delays from a system, this can mean changes like getting eggs on call from Amazon instead of having to wait for weekend shopping.

What Low Latency Times Are Good for

Factory automation is a popular example of low latency benefits. Fuetsch sees 5G, the robots connect so that they can coordinate their actions and do not need to meet. 5G could also enable wireless communication of robots instead of network cables, so that a factory can quickly change production jobs.

Even drones could get better. 5G enables fast connections to base stations so that computer smarts can be on-site – for example, object recognition to facilitate navigation. Without the need for a computer to be so powerful and the battery needed to operate, a drone can fly longer or deliver a better but heavier camera when delivering packages. Of course, you need a handy 5G network, which could be a problem in rural areas where 5G networks are unlikely to arrive for years.


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5G could also help players, especially broadband outside and outside the home.

"Action multiplayer games like Fortnite need low latency to provide a good multiplayer experience Historically, mobile network latencies have been too poor to support action multiplayer games well" said Ian Fogg, OpenSignal analyst. With today's 4G, that's changing, "and as new 5G wireless networks hit the market, latencies will improve even more."

Another way that could benefit from playing is similar to the drone example. With 5G, game consoles could rely on fast connections to centralized servers with the most computational power. "Processing can be done in the cloud due to high throughput and low latency," said Dan Mondor, chief executive of Inseego, formerly called Novatel, which builds wireless network equipment for Verizon's early 5G broadband service. (Well, not quite 5G, because this year Verizon actually uses a technology that is similar to 5G, but is not the actual standard, but the point remains.)

Video chat and even simple old web browsing will get away with it benefit, added Fogg. Loading websites requires extensive communication between a browser and the servers hosting websites, so low latency can make websites more snappy.

How about self-driving cars?

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) is another latency-sensitive technology. It's still not sure if 5G will play a role there, but some say, including Jane Rygaard. She is the director of 5G marketing for Nokia, one of the world's largest mobile phone manufacturers in cell towers connecting your mobile phone to the Internet. 5G could help a car learn about potholes or brakes from others on the road. This information would be important for self-driving cars.

The key to V2V is an idea called edge computing, which goes along with 5G. The idea is to relocate the smart computers from the central servers to the 5G base stations. This means a faster reaction time for the processing of tasks, eg. For example, to find out which cars in the vicinity need to be informed about a problem and which are not affected.

  twitter-in-stream-wide-Figure 5g

Alex Williamson

"We need a network that is good enough to give the IT application room to run," Rygaard said.

Augmented Reality can also benefit from 5G. A low-latency connection can deliver the required images almost instantly as you move your phone or headset. An AR app does not have to provide all possible images for an AR scene in advance.

Oh, and that's it's remote surgery idea. It will take a long time for people to trust robotic surgeons commanded by distant people, Rygaard said. But there are other places for remote operator operators who need real-time interaction – a robot that might crawl around the radioactive nuclear reactor in Fukushima or investigate a potential bomb.

Medicine has more to offer than surgery. Verizon is passionate about 5G technology virtual reality headsets that allow a physiotherapist to remotely perform cooperative ball-bouncing exercises with patients.

5G delivers the goods

There is evidence that 5G is getting the promised links with low latency. We're between 1 and 2 milliseconds, "Rygaard said about Nokia's latency checks between phones and cell towers: One millisecond is a thousandth of a second, roughly at the time a baseball touches a bat that hits it.

It will be different There are delays in the system, such as software that actually does something with the data traversing the network, but the 5G basics seem to exist.

"We see the very low single-digit milliseconds," said Fuetsch. This is more than the 1 millisecond latency target that 5G advocates have been aiming for years, but it also includes communication to the network, not just between a phone and a cell tower, a big improvement over today's 4G networks more than ten times lower latencies, as real measurements of the mobile analysis company OpenSignal show.

In addition, future Versio 5G guarantee this latency. 19659006] "In a 5G network, I can say that I want 2 milliseconds, and it should be able to give me 2 milliseconds each time," Rygaard said. This warranty is irrelevant for watching streaming videos from a sports game, but if two factory robots work in sync, she said.

Not so fast, 5G fans

Not everyone is so optimistic. even though.

"Even if I reduce the latency to 1 millisecond, you only come to the base station, and for most normal things you do on the phone, it still has to go to the cloud," latency is still a problem, said Linley Gwennap, Linley Group analyst. You can cache some data and process it in base stations yourself, but you can not deploy all the data and software from all the data centers operated by Google, Netflix, Facebook, and others.

And self-driving cars with 5G? "Ridiculous," said Gwennap. There will be many areas without 5G network coverage, he said. "If my car is on Verizon and you are on AT & T, it will not be instant anyway," he said.

OK, maybe the hype is ahead of reality. The 5G ultra low latency standards are still being ironed out, and this technology is unlikely to be available before 2020, said Mobile Ecosystem analyst Mark Lowenstein.

"We're in a certain phase of a 5G hype cycle, it takes a dose of reality," he said in a October report. 5G will really be different from 4G today, but it will only arrive gradually and in phases. So do not expect the self-driving cars or 5G robots. "Patience and a long view are needed."

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