5G Is 4G on Steroids

Graphics by Candice Cheng

Recently, a new technology has become available that will change wireless connections globally. 5G networks are quickly becoming widespread across the country, with Rogers holding the record for largest 5G network in Canada to date. 

Rogers has recently partnered with the University of Waterloo to research the capabilities of 5G, making UW one of Canada’s first Smart Campuses – a campus that is 5G connected. Catherine Rosenberg, Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at UW , plays a critical role in this partnership. She also holds the Canada Research Chair in the Future Internet and the Cisco Research Chair in 5G Systems. 

“5G is 4G on steroids. It will do what 4G is doing but better for normal users like you and I, and it will do many things that 4G does not do,” Rosenberg said. 

LTE, which stands for long-term evolution, was the precursor to 5G and is very similar to 4G. The difference between 5G and earlier technologies will allow for significant advancements in many regions of the workforce. “[5G] will do what we call critical servicing – for example for autonomous driving, remote surgery, virtual reality. To do those things, 5G relies on many new technologies,   the most well-known of which is called millimeter wave. It uses a new band of the spectrum that was not used before ,because it was very hard to use,” Rosenberg said.

There are many types of research being conducted at UW through this multi-million-dollar partnership. “Plenty of different types of research, from application-led research where we try to see how 5G will change the way we do things – for example autonomous busses or verifying water quality. We are also researching more technical issues to make sure that the technology delivers on its promises,” Rosenberg said.

It is clear that research into this new wireless technology is critical and will help a lot of people. 5G will allow significant advancement in many fields and create new avenues for research and development of new products and services.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has slowed down research efforts considerably. “COVID-19 has an impact on what we do because we were planning to test beta and experiment on campus which has become not easy to do,” Rosenberg said. Hopefully, these real-life tests will be able to continue more easily in the near future. In the meanwhile, other types of research are ongoing.

Rosenberg is hopeful for what this new area of research means for students and how it opens up the world of technology and its capabilities. “I think students should be excited about this, they are enabling technologies to develop new applications and usually students have a lot of great ideas. Globally, it is quite exciting. There are plenty of new opportunities [for students],” she said.

For more information, refer to the article ‘The University of Waterloo and Rogers Partner in Real-World 5G Network Research’ by Sarah Hammond.