What is 5G?
Speed of the mobile connectivity is continuously growing as the technology moves on. We have already experienced high-speed mobile connectivity provided by 4G technology. Though 5G technology hasn’t commercially launched yet, the term is being widely discussed in tech world nowadays. All major telecommunication companies work on developing this cutting-edge technology to deploy their own 5G networks. 5G means 5th generation wireless mobile technology which turned up by replacing existing 4G LTE technology. The wireless technology started with 1G and it has used analog transmission techniques while providing mobility to voice services. In early 1990’s, 2G wireless mobile technology emerged with use of digital transmission. 2G allowed sending text messages between mobile phones. After moving on to the 3G, Internet browsing was introduced as that technology increased the speed of mobile connectivity required for smartphones. The 4G mechanism is similar to the 3G, but it speeded up the Internet connectivity and lowered the latency. Afterward, LTE (Long Term Evolution), commonly used as 4G LTE allowed greater speed than 4G.
5G is going to be a transformative technology which will provide the high speed Internet while ensuring the network reliability. All major mobile phone carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile etc.) have already initiated their plans to introduce 5G networks to the market in the near future. Before hitting the market, they will try to make standards for 5G and add their knowledge to the 5G standardizing process. 3GPP (The 3rd Generation Partnership Project) first released the standard for 5G in December 2017. Other standard bodies like IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) and ITU (International Telecommunication Union) are also involved in making the standards for 5G. GSMA, a trade association that represents the interests of mobile network operators, defined a set of eight requirements that a network connection needs to meet in order to qualify as a 5G network.
- 1-10Gbps connections to end points in the field
- 1 millisecond end-to-end round trip delay (latency)
- 1000x bandwidth per unit area
- 10-100x number of connected devices
- (Perception of) 99.999% availability
- (Perception of) 100% coverage
- 90% reduction in network energy usage
- Up to ten year battery life for low power, machine-type devices
In the future, more devices will connect to the Internet than ever. Gartner, a research company, predicted that by 2020 around 21 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. These devices are not just the mobile phones and tablets, it includes all the Internet of Things devices such as smart refrigerators, smart cars, voice controllers, smart smoke alarms etc. 5G technology will expand the performance of IoT ecosystems by efficiently handling the massive amounts of data in cost effective manner. 5G will be increasing the speed of data transfer while decreasing the latency.
How does 5G work?
When a wireless mobile technology jumps into the next generation of it, usually bandwidth of radio frequency rises to the higher levels. 5G technology uses higher radio frequencies, but these higher frequency signals don’t travel as far as low level frequency signals. With this new 5G approach, users are expected to transmit a large amount of data as fastest as possible. Therefore, some technologies emerged to overcome the barriers and enable faster 5G networks.
Millimetre Waves (mmWave)
Millimetre waves is also known as the extremely high frequency (EHF) and its band of spectrum is ranging from 30 GHz to 300 GHz. These frequencies use the wavelengths between 1 mm and 10 mm. Because of short wavelengths, mmWave cannot penetrate the strong structures like concrete walls. Air with high humidity also could affect the strength of the signals. By introducing 5G, telecommunication companies expect to lower the latency of data transmission as well. Therefore, they moved on to the small cell model to eliminate these obstacles in order to achieve the low latency.
Small cells are implemented to increase the coverage of 5G networks in small areas. Though these small cells are built by containing all the features of large cell towers, size is much smaller than large cell towers. Therefore, small cells can be mounted on the places where large cell towers cannot be built such as rooftops, indoor stadiums, shopping malls etc. Small cells are categorized into 3 parts based on the coverage area.
Femtocell: Small base stations where coverage area range up to 10 meters and are mostly used for indoor applications and providing coverage for homes and small businesses.
Picocell: Range of a Picocell is extended around 200 meters and provides coverage for hotels, hospitals, offices etc.
Microcell: Coverage area is less than 2 km and is suitable to cover places like small towns, transport hubs etc.
Massive MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) is a wireless data transmission technology which emerged after 5G networks planned to use it as a core component for data transmission. Regular MIMO networks use two or four antennas for data transmission and reception, by contrast, Massive MIMO attaches a large number of antennas to the base station. By that, Massive MIMO is expected to increase the network capacity. As the number of antennas attached to the base station goes up, it will be capable of resisting the interference and intentional jamming.
In 5G networks, Massive MIMO uses a large number of antennas for data transmission and Beamforming technology manages these multiple antennas in order to deliver data more efficiently to the end users. Before 5G, base stations broadcasted signals to all directions. But with Beamforming, base stations are capable of sending a stream of data to a specific user while minimizing the interference.
Full Duplex technology allows transmitting and receiving of data simultaneously on the same frequency. As a result, it will double the capacity of wireless networks.
5G use cases
“By 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output and support 22 million jobs worldwide. Much of that growth will come from the digitization of transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and other physical industries.”
– Ronan Dunne, Executive Vice President and Group President, Verizon Wireless
5G technology will enable the fastest data transmission ever experienced, but it just doesn’t give high speed Internet to your mobile phone. With its innovative concepts, 5G will reshape the future world in many aspects and provide enormous opportunities for both individuals and businesses. Especially, by increasing the efficiency, reliability and security of networks, 5G will become a great revenue generating method for businesses. Also, 5G technology can be used for building true smart cities where everything is connected. Lots of such opportunities can be expected to emerge with the 5G technology and here are some of them.
Internet of Things
Although IoT technology gained its popularity for sometimes now, it’s said that 5G will enable the full potential of IoT. 5G will connect millions of Internet-enabled devices in a more efficient manner than previous wireless technologies. It’s expected that 5G will connect more devices while lowering the power consumption and latency of data transmission.
Self-driving cars are capable of operating with previous wireless technologies. But because of some safety issues, an autonomous vehicle concept is still in the testing stage. When an autonomous vehicle operates on the road, a massive amount of data is exchanged between the vehicle and outside entities such as cloud, other vehicles, traffic lights etc. This concept is called Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) and at the moment, only 5G technology has a capability to provide reliable linking to V2X.
Smart city concept goes hand in hand with the Internet of thing technology, as an ecosystem of a smart city consists of mobile devices, sensors, smart traffic lights, smart billboards etc. Smart cities concerns are about improving the living standards of citizens in urban areas by linking all vital services including public services, education, transportation, healthcare, security etc. To build a well-connected smart city, 5G is the key technology required, because 5G will provide more coverage, support more devices and process and analyse data speedily for smart city management.
Technological advancements always affect positively to the healthcare industry. Patients can use Internet-enabled medical devices which could remotely communicate with the hospitals or doctors and provide real time health conditions such as heart rate, blood glucose level, any abnormalities of the body etc. High speed 5G networks allows faster transmission of the data between two ends, then doctors can take necessary actions in emergency situations.