5G, or the fifth generation of the communications technology for cellular mobile devices, is a quantum leap over the 4G (LTE/WiMAX), 3G (UMTS), and 2G (GSM) systems prevalent in most countries. 5G technology holds the promise of super high-speed data, significantly lower latency and energy consumption, thereby reducing operational costs and allowing for increased capacities for systems and connected devices.
Need to Accelerate 5G Implementation
Implementing 5G technology can offer users, organizations, and governments several benefits, some of which are outlined below:
- Speed: Faster data transfer speeds up to 10 gigabits per second
- Data volume: Higher data volumes
- Latency times: Almost 5 times reduction in transit time
- Device density: 10 to 100 times more than the current possibility
- Energy efficiency: Energy savings up to 70% - 90%
- Availability: Better availability due to distributed loads and greater redundancies
- Coverage: Close to 100% coverage in all areas of deployment
- Speed of deployment: Rapid service deployment due to self-organizing features
- IoT: Enhance the reach, effectiveness, and efficiency of IoT solutions
- Edge computing: Adoption of edge computing technologies brings compute, storage and networking closer to applications, devices and users
- Convergence: Reduced complexity due to the confluence of multiple networking functions
- Network Slicing: Network Slicing enables Service providers to build virtual end to end networks tailored to specific applications
Race to the 5G Summit
Given the immense commercial possibilities, several companies are spearheading the development of 5G technologies. Leading the efforts are Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm, Lenovo, Nokia, Ericsson, ZTE, Cisco, Samsung, and AT&S. The focus is on 5G related technologies such as modem technology, infrastructure, and hybrid printed circuit boards (PCB), all of which would be crucial in supporting the successful implementation of 5G mobile communications.
The 3GPP Release 15 standard, developed recently, can use of any network working on the NR (New Radio) software. 5G NR is a new radio access technology (RAT) developed by 3GPP for 5G. 5G New Radio can accommodate lower frequencies, from 600 MHz to 6 GHz and use the mmWave range for true 5g speeds. During trials the speeds achieved were only about 10% - 15% more than 4G speeds. This can be overcome by adding LAA (License Assisted Access) to a 4G network, enabling much higher speeds, in the range of hundreds of megabits per second. Applications of the 5G technology, in its current state, has been demonstrated by telecom operators such as Korea Telecom (during the 2018 Winter Olympics) and Telstra (during the 2018 Commonwealth Games).
Betting on Innovation
The massive data speeds, lower operational costs, and higher capacity densities offered by 5G technologies have spurred a flurry of innovations in the use of mobile communication technology in everyday life. Some of these include:
- Multiple Input and Multiple Output (MIMO): A large MIMO antenna increases the data throughput as well and multiplies the density capacity by employing many antennae in a single panel. This method has enabled equipment vendors to achieve a significant increase in antenna system capacities
- Edge Computing: The high speeds enabled by 5G would greatly facilitate edge computing technologies by moving the computational work away from the central nodes
- Convergence of Networking Functions: 5G technologies would give a fillip to the convergence of multiple networking functions, which would aid reduction in cost, power, and complexity. Some of the technologies being targeted are the convergence of LTE and Wi-Fi, LTE-WLAN aggregation, and migration to centralized-RAN (C-RAN)
- Network Slicing: This innovation allows customizing mobile data services to specific users
- Virtual Reality: Implementation of 5G will revolutionize the use of augmented and virtual reality across industries and applications and e-commerce
- Smart Possibilities: Smart clothing, prosthetic devices, ingestible health monitors, autonomous vehicles, smart public services, smart farms, and smart homes connected to IoT networks are innovations riding on 5G
- NFV and SDN: The inclusion of NFV and SDN has benefitted 5G players to have lesser footprint, faster deployment and lightning-fast configuration and deployments giving 5G players high availability, scalability, effective network management capabilities.
Accelerate to Innovate
Armed with the massive potential, all major cellular mobile carriers in the US have made known their plans for deployment of millimeter wave 5G wireless technologies. With 5G, one does not need a crystal ball to foresee the benefits awaiting those that are spearheading the implementation of 5G technologies and driving innovations.