UCO Students Working on 5G Technology with Community

President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Feb. 21 that he wants to see 6G technology as soon as possible in the United States alongside 5G as “it is far more powerful, faster and smarter than the current standard.”

“5G is the fifth generation of cellular services,” said Nesreen Alsbou, professor in the University of Central Oklahoma’s Engineering and Physics Department. “So, we started with 1G, which is the first analog phone, then we went to 2G where we used the SMS messages. Then we went to 3G where we had the higher data transfer and then with the 4G and 4GLTE, what we are currently using, is smart phones and their various capabilities.”

According to Alsbou, many are marketing 5G to be twenty times faster, as well as a high bandwidth that would let users be able to do several things at a single time.

“Currently the maximum data rate that we have is 100 megabits per second. With 5G they are currently promising us up to a maximum 10 gigabits,” Alsbou said.

This will be a huge improvement, according to Alsbou, and will let users download anything in a short amount of time.

“You will be able to download a movie in a split of a second,” Alsbou said. “Fornite, what kids and adults are playing, with 5G they are promising it will be a completely different world with augmentation reality and virtual reality.”

Alsbou said the transfer into 5G poses some advantages and disadvantages. The high bandwidth that would allow users to do more than one thing at a time online, in a matter of seconds, is an advantage for 5G. However, the higher range of frequencies this takes would be a disadvantage.

“To go to higher frequencies for the signal to be transmitted you will need the towers to be very close to you,” Alsbou said. “Therefore the disadvantage is they need to install cellular towers between houses.”

According to Alsbou, this could mean that there would be a cellular tower located every four or five houses.

“There would be so many towers everywhere, they would also be putting antennas in the stop signs, ads, signs for churches, signs for schools,” Alsbou said. “There are different groups that are worried about all these different electromagnet waves and fields to be everywhere around us.”

The cellular towers for 5G do not have to be very high, according to Alsbou. As of now, the cellular towers for 4G and 3G are high because they cover a large area.

Companies have already started working on making the transition. There are currently ongoing 5G trials in Oklahoma City as it was chosen as one of 12 cities in the United States to the 5G for AT&T customers in December.

“For customers of AT&T they selected different residential areas where they gave them a hot spot router at no cost for the first three months and asked them to try 5G,” Alsbou said.

Last year Verizon was one of the first international and American companies to get 5G up and running, according to Alsbou. They are running trials in four cities and now heading to a fifth city.

“It is going to be really expensive; like for Verizon, they give the router free for the first three months but after that, you have to pay $500 for the router,” Alsbou. “For the data itself, it’s going to be limited, it will be 15 gigabytes.”

4G data is unlimited, so if a user wanted to make the transition to 5G, Alsbou said it depends if customers want less data or faster internet.

“There is a different feeling about it; do people want the data to be limited again?” Alsbou said.

Internet of Things is a research and technology development lab on campus that is currently developing devices to take advantage of 5G.

The smart system would send a notification to the parents, or owners of the car and if they do not respond in time, the notification would be sent to your local fire department to take action, according to Alsbou.

Other projects that IOT’s research lab is working on include building a microwave imaging system and correction of  image artifacts in medical images with the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, car-to-car communication and collision avoidance systems with the Department of Transportation and they are also working on a project with the largest trucking company in Oklahoma.

Albou said these projects require very high internet speeds, and although 4G can work, 5G will make the projects perform a lot faster.

IOT’s teaming up with these companies and working on projects with them has created many opportunities for the UCO engineering students involved. Alsbou said they are opening the lab up to a UCO students and the Oklahoma community for ideas IOT can work on and make happen.

“I think with 5G will change our life in many ways where IOT will be integrated more and play a bigger role in our daily activities by having faster internet and the ability to run many applications at once,” Alsbou said.

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