5G Technology

5th generation mobile networks or 5th generation wireless systems, abbreviated 5G, are the proposed next telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards.

An initial chip design by Qualcomm in October 2016, the Snapdragon X50 5G modem, supports operations in the 28 GHz band, also known as millimetre wave (mmW) spectrum. With 800 MHz bandwidth support, it is designed to support peak download speeds of up to 35.46 gigabits per second.

5G planning aims at higher capacity than current 4G, allowing a higher density of mobile broadband users, and supporting device-to-device, ultra reliable, and massive machine communications.

5G research and development also aims at lower latency than 4G equipment and lower battery consumption, for better implementation of the Internet of things.

There is currently no standard for 5G deployments.

The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance defines the following requirements that a 5G standard should fulfill:

  • Data rates of tens of megabits per second for tens of thousands of users
  • Data rates of 100 megabits per second for metropolitan areas
  • 1 Gb per second simultaneously to many workers on the same office floor
  • Several hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections for wireless sensors
  • Spectral efficiency significantly enhanced compared to 4G
  • Coverage improved
  • Signalling efficiency enhanced
  • Latency reduced significantly compared to LTE.

While 5G isn’t expected until 2020, an increasing number of companies are investing now to prepare for the new mobile wireless standard. We explore 5G, how it works and its impact on future wireless systems.

5G simply stands for fifth generation and refers to the next and newest mobile wireless standard based on the IEEE 802.11ac standard of broadband technology, although a formal standard for 5G is yet to be set.

According to the Next Generation Mobile Network’s 5G white paper, 5G connections must be based on ‘user experience, system performance, enhanced services, business models and management & operations’.

And according to the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) to qualify for a 5G a connection should meet most of these eight criteria:

  1. One to 10Gbps connections to end points in the field
  2. One millisecond end-to-end round trip delay
  3. 1000x bandwidth per unit area
  4. 10 to 100x number of connected devices
  5. (Perception of) 99.999 percent availability
  6. (Perception of) 100 percent coverage
  7. 90 percent reduction in network energy usage
  8. Up to ten-year battery life for low power, machine-type devices

Previous generations like 3G were a breakthrough in communications. 3G receives a signal from the nearest phone tower and is used for phone calls, messaging and data.

4G works the same as 3G but with a faster internet connection and a lower latency (the time between cause and effect).

Hubert Da Costa, Vice President, EMEA at Cradlepoint said: “5G Wi-Fi connections are set to be about three times faster than 4G, starting with 450Mbps in single-stream, 900 Mbps (dual- stream) and 1.3G bps (three-stream). So, whilst we are already starting to see a huge growth in IoT and smart devices, 5G’s speed and capacity will enable an even more rapid arrival of this connected future.”

Advantages and disadvantages of 5G

5G will be significantly faster than 4G, allowing for higher productivity across all capable devices with a theoretical download speed of 10,000 Mbps. Plus, with greater bandwidth comes faster download speeds and the ability to run more complex mobile internet apps.

However, 5G will cost more to implement and while the newest mobile phones will probably have it integrated, other handsets could be deemed out of date.

A reliable, wireless internet connection can depend on the number of devices connected to one channel. With the addition of 5G to the wireless spectrum, this could put us at risk of overcrowding the frequency range.

“Current 4G mobile standards have the potential to provide 100s of Mbps. 5G offers to take that into multi-gigabits per second, giving rise to the ‘Gigabit Smartphone’ and hopefully a slew of innovative services and applications that truly need the type of connectivity that only 5G can offer,” says Paul Gainham, senior director, SP Marketing EMEA at Juniper Networks.

The future of 5G

As 5G is still in development, it is not yet open for use by anyone. However, lots of companies have started creating 5G products and field testing them.

Notable advancements in 5G technologies have come from Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Ericsson and BT, with growing numbers of companies forming 5G partnerships and pledging money to continue to research into 5G and its application.

Qualcomm and Samsung have focused their 5G efforts on hardware, with Qualcomm creating a 5G modem and Samsung producing a 5G enabled home router.

Both Nokia and Ericcson have created 5G platforms aimed at mobile carriers rather than consumers.  Ericsson created the first 5G platform earlier this year that claims to provide the first 5G radio system. Ericsson began 5G testing in 2015.

Similarly, earlier this year Nokia launched “5G First”, a platform aiming to provide end-to-end 5G support for mobile carriers.

“While the networking industry is working towards making 4G ubiquitous, we also need to future-proof for 5G, which probably won’t see deployment until 2019 or 2020 at the earliest. It will take that long as a completely new eco-system needs to form with the right architectures and agreed standards.

“In line with that, the mobile vendors will need to develop the network infrastructure and end user devices such as new 5G capable handsets. Ultimately, the biggest technological challenge confronting the industry will be spectrum availability,” says Paul Gainham, senior director, SP Marketing EMEA at Juniper Networks.

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