What You Need to Know About 5G

There are many benefits that will come from the new 5G infrastructure that is being created today. Initially, we will see Internet speeds increased by a factor of 100x. Speed is one thing, but low latency is just as important. Today’s 4G has relatively high latency, which makes watching HD media a challenge. With low latency, HD streaming video will become a reality. Other benefits of 5G are:

  • It will greatly enhance the ability of self-driving cars
  • Municipality traffic control
  • IoT device enhancement of sensors
  • Assist with the increase of farm yields
  • Medical procedures and remote surgery

With the new millimeter band spectrum, we will see small 5G cell sites densely distributed throughout the country. As 5G rolls out, the ability to connect with many IoT devices/sensors will provide invaluable information to increase the efficiency of everything. A few examples of industries that will quickly take advantage of this new technology are: medical, agricultural, and automotive/traffic control. Imagine having sensors in the field to monitor crop yields and check the health and status of livestock. In the medical field, 5G will increase the ability for augmented technology to assist with complicated surgeries. In the automotive world, autonomous cars will be better able to communicate with each other and will be one of the major technologies used to prevent collisions. Cities will be able to control traffic patterns based on real time information transmitted from vehicles. The possibilities are endless.

Back in the days of 2G and early 3G, the definition of what these terms meant were not as clearly defined as they are today. All the major telecommunication standards organizations got together and created the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). This group defined the 3G standard and would define the specifications of future G technology. The difference in technology between 2G, 3G, and 4G is based on modulation techniques. Using different modulation techniques, we were able to transmit more data in the same spectrum space. Moving to 5G is a major technological paradigm shift from 4G. Basically, 5G is a list of approved/agreed specifications, standards and protocols. Depending on the infrastructure where the small cell sites are installed, power lines or fiber can be used to back haul the data.

The 5G standard includes many technologies, which offers the cell carriers options for implementation. The long-term implementation goal that most carriers will implement, includes small cell sites that have coverage ranges of 200 yards. These small cell sites will connect directly to cell phones or IoT devices. The small cell sites will back haul (connect) wirelessly to a data center for distribution.

3GPP has defined what the specific technologies that are 5G and what is not 5G. A few years ago, several of the big companies put up enhanced 4G services that they were marketing as 5G-like service, but the services they were selling were not real 5G as defined by the standard.

While the promise of 5G looks good and the major carriers are all set to start rolling out the technology, there are still some very big technological issues that need to be worked out. Many initial 5G roll-outs will be based on 5G FR1 (frequency range 1), with a migration plan to move to 5G NR (new radio, frequency range 2). It is estimated that it will be another year before some advanced features of 5G will be rolled out. There are some industry experts that are questioning the economics of 5G and are concerned whether 5G will be a profitable model for the carriers.

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Posted by Jack Gerbs in Wireless