Wireless carriers have already started extolling the benefits of 5G over existing 4G LTE networks, the primary one being raw speed. 5G reckons to be much faster than 4G, which could open up a new world of possibilities on mobile. The question, how much faster will 5G actually be in real-world settings? Qualcomm has been conducting simulated tests over the past several months to answer that very question, and the results are pretty exciting.
"There is a lot of interest from various stakeholders in the mobile ecosystem—cloud platform providers, application developers, device OEMs, and others—in understanding the real-world performance that 5G NR mobile networks and devices will deliver," said Alex Holcman, senior vice president of engineering, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "We undertook this comprehensive study to help the ecosystem prepare for the foray into 5G, so that application developers, for example, can begin planning new experiences and services for users with 5G devices."
Qualcomm conducted two separate sets of simulations. The first one modeled an NSA 5G NR network in Frankfurt, Germany, operating on 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum, with an underlying gigabit LTE network operating across five LTE spectrum bands. And the second simulation modeled a hypothetical NSA 5G NR network in San Francisco, California, operating in 800MHz of 28GHz mmWave spectrum, with an underlying gigabit LTE network across four licensed LTE spectrum bands plus License Assisted Access (LAA) bands.
In the Frankfurt simulation, Qualcomm saw up to whopping 900 percent gain in "browsing download" speeds, which increased from 56Mbps for the median 4G user to more than 490Mbps for the median 5G user. Qualcomm also observed a massive improvement in latency, which drop from 116ms to just 17ms. While Qualcomm did not talk about the implications of this, one thing that immediately comes to mind is online multiplayer gaming.
Testing in San Francisco yield impressive results, too. Download speeds increased from 71Mbps for the median 4G user to 1.4Gbps for the median 5G uers in mmWave coverage, representing an eye popping 2,000 percent improvement. Qualcomm also observiced file download speeds of more than 186Mbps for 90 percent of 5G users, compared to 10Mbps for LTE. The media 5G file download speed was 442Mbps.
"The results from the 5G Network Capacity Simulation lend credence to the promise of 5G, with expected real-world performance that is substantially better than what is currently possible with 4G across multiple metrics. The findings also illustrate that these emerging 5G networks will have the capacity and performance to support a whole host of new services and experiences beyond the traditional categories of browsing, downloading, and streaming," Qualcomm said.
Qualcomm's data hits the web just days after Intel laid out its plans for implementing 5G wireless on future smartphones and laptops. Interestingly enough, Intel mentioned gaming as one of the beneficiaries of 5G, and Qualcomm's data seems to support that notion.