On the horizon: 2018 is set to be the official beginning of the 5G era

30 Aug 2017

Image: Traval Take Photos/Shutterstock

The official launch of the 5G era looks set to begin in early 2018, with South Korea and Japan leading the charge.

5G mobile networks will soon become a reality, along with all the perks that go with them, such as faster data transfer, greater wireless area coverage and lower latency.

Research director at TrendForce, Kelly Hsieh, singled out Japan and South Korea as the 5G pioneers working aggressively towards commercial deployment.

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is a prime opportunity for Japan to test its 5G technology, while the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang is an ideal testing ground for South Korean telecoms firms.

According to TrendForce, the new era will begin in earnest early next year, with SK Telecom demonstrating related technologies at Pyeongchang. It is set to try out end-to-end access units, plus other core services for smartphones and devices.

South Korea’s other major telecoms operator, KT Corporation, will leverage its tech to display innovative and exciting media technologies such as sync view and 360 VR.

Hsieh continued: “From the technological perspective, the 5G standard involves the deployment of massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antenna systems to transmit data at mmWave (millimetre wave) frequencies.

“This represents a platform breakthrough in the integration of wireless technologies.”

A booming demand for components

Industrial adoption will be rapid, seeing take-up in healthcare, manufacturing and transportation as well as the massive consumer market.

Demand for radio-frequency front-end components with high power-added efficiency is set to skyrocket, as the power amplification requirements for 5G network implementation are quite high.

Hsieh explained: “Components based on GaN (gallium nitride) fit the requirements for power amplification under the 5G standard.

“In the future, the expansion of the network will propel the demand for GaN components used in mobile devices.”

According to TrendForce research, the market for components such as these will grow to $26bn by 2022.

Once mobile networking has made the general transition to the 5G standard, the specs of the smart devices we use daily will have to be raised, in order to support these higher-carrier frequencies.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects