Mobile data consumption is soaring, but a broad set of technology advances is poised to transform what today’s smartphones and other wireless mobile devices can do—ushering in high-resolution video and fully immersive, 3-D environments.
At the NYU Wireless lab in Brooklyn, students are testing prototype equipment—forerunners to next-generation phones—that are able to transmit a blazing 10 gigabits of data per second, all while moving around crowded courtyards. And Samsung recently showed how a car traveling at 25 kilometers per hour could maintain a gigabit-per-second connection as the car moved in and out of range of mobile transmitters called base stations.
Both achievements are roughly 100 times faster than what current commercial mobile phone technology can do.
These are demonstrations of the kinds of astonishing capabilities that will be unleashed thanks to this month’s release of vast amounts of high-frequency spectrum by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission—a move that will make available several times more spectrum than has ever existed for wireless telecommunications—and a $400 million research effort announced by the White House.
The next-generation technology will eventually be defined in a standard that will be known as “5G.” It is expected to provide Internet connections at least 40 times faster—and with at least four times more coverage worldwide—than the current standard, known as 4G LTE.