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Fun With Virtual and Augmented Reality: Pokémon GO and Beyond
Volume 40, Number 6 - November/December 2016


What VR and AR Need Now Is 5G

Remember when there was only 3G (third generation) cellular connectivity? 2013 saw the implementation of 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) mobile networks, a high-speed protocol that transmits data 10 times faster than 3G. This made it much easier to send and receive video through cellphones.

Yet, the vast and fast data transfer needed for AR and VR will require a new network protocol: 5G (or fifth generation). Bonnie Cha writes that 5G will provide “significantly faster data speeds: Currently, 4G networks are capable of achieving peak download speeds of one gigabit per second, though in practice it’s never that fast. With 5G, this would increase to 10Gbps” (What Is 5G, and What Does It Mean for Consumers?” Recode, March 13, 2015;

5G will feature very low latency. “Latency,” explains Cha, “refers to the time it takes one device to send a packet of data to another device. Currently with 4G, the latency rate is around 50 milliseconds, but 5G will reduce that to about one millisecond. This will be particularly important for industrial applications and driverless cars.”

The problem? 5G does not yet exist. “What’s happening now is that all the players in the wireless world, from chipset makers to carriers, are jockeying to be able to define 5G and establish themselves as 5G leaders,” writes Sascha Segan (“What Is 5G?”, June 21, 2016; She notes, “The final 5G standard, and the bands that 5G networks can use, are expected to be locked down by 2020.”

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Irene E. McDermott is Reference Librarian/Systems Manager at the Crowell Public Library, in the City of San Marino, CA.


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