Just how fast is a 5G network going to be? Watch this video
5G isn’t just fast. It’s rock and roll fast. In the video below, Korean indie band 24Hours plays a song – in perfect sync – even though its members are hundreds of kilometers apart. The video gives you a good sense of what the jam session would sound like with LTE compared with 5G network speeds. It’s a huge difference:
The video was created thanks to a grant from Giga KOREA, and it was meant to demonstrate potential 5G service ideas. This has immediate relevance in a region that Ericsson President and CEO Börje Ekholm said was leading the way in 5G, along with North America, in a fireside keynote at the recent Mobile World Congress. And the 5G conversation in Asia is often about broad-scale use cases for industrial applications.
While the market for connected rock bands might not be a thing, the video demonstrates perfectly the possibilities of the ultra-low latency that comes with 5G. And that has real uses in real industries.
Why low latency in 5G networks is so important
Ekholm has consistently focused on low latency as a defining feature of 5G, and in his keynote, he pointed to industrial uses such as remote control of machinery and augmented reality maintenance, as well as consumer use cases in health care and autonomous vehicles.
Talking to Barron's last summer, Ekholm also said:
"It's very hard for the human brain to think about latency.
"When you press enter on the laptop, it takes a millisecond for the screen to load, and you notice that. But for machines, for self-driving cars on the road, for example, when they have to detect where humans are walking, and such, it's fractions of that time."
Uncompressed HD video needs 5G
The video serves as a Proof of Concept of what is possible with 5G, in terms of low latency.
How? I asked my colleague Jason Kyohun Shim, Head of Marketing & Communication, Ericsson-LG, and he explained the following:
If you are transmitting HD video with compression, which is the normal way to send large amounts of data, it takes at least more than 400ms, with an encoding delay. In addition, you need another 400ms for decoding the data for display. Then you need to expect an additional transmission delay of a few milliseconds in one direction.
As all these delays accumulate, it becomes impossible to synchronize between remote band members.
Then there is the issue of network capacity. In an LTE network, compression is critical because of network capacity limitations. The compressed data requires, say, 20Mbps in the network. In comparison, uncompressed HD data needs more than 1.5Gbps bandwidth.
LTE can't handle that, but a 5G network can – with extremely low latency both on the uplink and downlink.
In other words, 5G gives you a rock band in perfect sync. And that's just the beginning.
Explore more magic of just how fast 5G will be
To get another example of what low latency will mean for our connected future, watch American players wear VR goggles and still throw, dodge and tackle at close to full speed.
And to dive into 5G for industries, please read our latest report – The Industry Impact of 5G – or check out a blog post summarizing the top 5 lessons from the report by my colleague Peter Linder.