5G Networks: Everything you need to know about 5G
5G, or fifth-generation wireless technology, is the latest and most advanced wireless communication standard that promises to bring about significant improvements in network speed, capacity, and reliability. The key characteristics of 5G technology are:
High Speeds: 5G is designed to deliver faster data transfer speeds than its predecessor technologies. The maximum theoretical speed of 5G is up to 20 Gbps, which is 20 times faster than 4G.
Low Latency: 5G reduces the time it takes for data to travel from the sender to the receiver (latency) to as low as 1 millisecond, which is nearly 100 times faster than 4G. This ultra-low latency is crucial for applications that require real-time responsiveness, such as self-driving cars, industrial automation, and remote surgery.
Increased Capacity: 5G networks are designed to handle significantly more devices and data traffic than previous generations. This is made possible through the use of new wireless technologies and advanced network infrastructure, such as beamforming, massive MIMO, and network slicing.
Higher Frequencies: 5G utilizes higher frequency bands, such as mmWave (millimeter wave), which enables faster speeds and greater bandwidth but also requires more base stations and infrastructure to cover the same area as lower frequency bands.
Energy Efficiency: 5G is designed to be more energy-efficient than its predecessor technologies, as it uses advanced power-saving features and can dynamically adjust power consumption based on network demand.
Network Slicing: 5G introduces the concept of network slicing, which enables operators to create virtual network partitions for different use cases, such as mission-critical communications, IoT, and entertainment. This allows for more efficient use of network resources and tailored services for different user groups.
Enhanced Security: 5G includes advanced security features, such as encryption, authentication, and privacy protection, to ensure the secure transmission of data over the network.
There are several differences between 4G and 5G networks, including:
- Speed: One of the most significant differences between 4G and 5G networks is their speed. 5G is designed to deliver faster data transfer speeds than 4G, with theoretical maximum speeds up to 20 Gbps, while 4G typically offers speeds up to 1 Gbps.
- Latency: 5G networks have much lower latency than 4G networks. Latency refers to the time it takes for data to travel from the sender to the receiver, and with 5G, it can be as low as 1 millisecond, compared to around 30-50 milliseconds for 4G. This is critical for applications that require real-time responsiveness, such as self-driving cars and remote surgery.
- Capacity: 5G networks have significantly higher capacity than 4G networks, meaning they can handle more devices and data traffic. This is achieved through the use of advanced wireless technologies, such as massive MIMO and beamforming, which allow for more efficient use of network resources.
- Frequency Bands: 5G uses higher frequency bands than 4G, including mmWave (millimeter wave), which enables faster speeds and greater bandwidth. However, higher frequency bands also require more base stations and infrastructure to cover the same area as lower frequency bands.
- Network Slicing: 5G introduces the concept of network slicing, which allows operators to create virtual network partitions for different use cases, such as mission-critical communications, IoT, and entertainment. This enables more efficient use of network resources and tailored services for different user groups.
- Energy Efficiency: 5G is designed to be more energy-efficient than 4G, as it uses advanced power-saving features and can dynamically adjust power consumption based on network demand.
- Security: 5G includes advanced security features, such as encryption, authentication, and privacy protection, to ensure the secure transmission of data over the network.
Overall, 5G offers significant improvements over 4G in terms of speed, latency, capacity, and efficiency, enabling new use cases and driving innovation in various industries.
Below is a summary of differences between 4G and 5G as per the International Telecommunications Union, “Key features and requirements of 5G/IMT-2020 networks”.
|Speed||Theoretical max speed up to 1 Gbps||Theoretical max speed up to 20 Gbps for downlink and 10 GPbs for uplink|
|Latency||Around 30-50 milliseconds||Theoretical as low as 1 millisecond|
|Capacity||Can handle 100 thousand devices per square kilometer||Can handle 1 million devices per square kilometer|
|Frequency||Uses lower frequency bands||Uses higher frequency bands, such as mmWave|
|Network Slicing||Not supported||Supports network slicing|
|Energy Efficiency||Less energy-efficient (1x bits per second per hertz)||More energy-efficient (3x bits per second per hertz)|
|Mobility||Can support 350 Kilometer/Hour mobility rate||Can support 500 Kilometer/Hour mobility rate|
These differences show that 5G is a significant improvement over 4G in terms of speed, latency, capacity, and efficiency, and offers new capabilities like network slicing.
As a consumer, 5G technology promises to bring about many exciting new possibilities and benefits. Here are some of the ways that 5G can enhance our daily lives:
- Faster Download and Streaming: With 5G, you can download and stream content, such as videos and music, faster and more reliably than ever before. This means you can enjoy higher-quality video streaming, faster music downloads, and more seamless online gaming experiences.
- Connected Life: 5G supports a large number of connected devices, allowing for the creation of more advanced IoT devices, such as smart home appliances, security systems, and wearable devices. This means that you can automate and optimize your daily life with more ease and efficiency.
- Connected Vehicles: With 5G, you can experience the benefits of self-driving cars, which can provide safer, more efficient, and more comfortable transportation. This is made possible through 5G’s low latency and high bandwidth, which enable real-time communication between vehicles and infrastructure.
- Remote Healthcare: 5G enables remote healthcare applications, such as telemedicine and remote patient monitoring, which can provide access to healthcare services from the comfort of your home. This can be especially helpful for people who live in remote areas or have mobility issues.
- An immersive experience: With 5G, you can experience immersive Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality(VR) experiences on your mobile devices, which can enhance gaming, entertainment, and educational experiences.
- Enhanced Location Services: 5G’s high-accuracy location capabilities enable enhanced location-based services, such as augmented reality navigation, indoor positioning, and asset tracking. This means you can have a better sense of where you are and where you need to go.
In addition to these use cases, 5G also enables fixed wireless access (FWA), which provides high-speed internet access to homes and businesses without the need for traditional wired connections. This means you can have faster and more reliable internet access, even in areas where wired connections may not be feasible or practical.
Overall, 5G technology has the potential to transform our lives by enabling new use cases and driving innovation in various industries.
5G offers many exciting use cases for enterprises, enabling them to improve operations, increase efficiency, and drive innovation. Here are some examples of how 5G can be used in different industries from an enterprise perspective:
Manufacturing: In addition to real-time monitoring and control of industrial processes, 5G can also enable the use of collaborative robots, or “cobots,” which can work alongside humans in assembly and other tasks. This can improve productivity, safety, and flexibility.
Logistics and Transportation: 5G can enable seaports and airports to optimize their operations by providing real-time tracking and control of goods and assets, as well as automated processes. For example, cargo handling equipment can be equipped with sensors to track cargo and optimize handling, while automated drones can be used for inspection and maintenance tasks.
Agriculture: In addition to precision farming, 5G can also enable the use of autonomous farming equipment, such as drones and robots, which can help automate tasks like seeding, spraying, and harvesting. This can improve productivity, reduce labor costs, and optimize resource usage.
Energy and Utilities: 5G can enable the use of smart grids, which can optimize energy distribution, reduce energy waste, and improve the reliability of the power supply. This can also help integrate renewable energy sources and enable energy trading between consumers.
Healthcare: In addition to remote healthcare applications, 5G can enable the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for medical training and simulation, as well as remote surgical procedures. This can help improve medical outcomes, reduce costs, and increase access to healthcare services.
Smart Cities: 5G can enable the use of advanced traffic management systems, public safety applications, and environmental monitoring solutions. This can improve the safety, efficiency, and sustainability of cities, as well as enhance the quality of life for citizens.
Mining: 5G can enable the use of autonomous mining equipment, such as trucks, drills, and excavators, which can help automate tasks like drilling, hauling, and loading. This can improve safety, reduce labor costs, and optimize resource usage.
Transportation: In addition to seaports and airports, 5G can be used in the wider transportation sector to optimize operations and improve efficiency. For example:
- Connected Vehicles: 5G can enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication, which can improve safety and reduce congestion. Connected vehicles can communicate with each other and with infrastructure to share information about road conditions, traffic, and weather, allowing drivers to make better decisions and avoid accidents.
- Smart Traffic Management: 5G can enable the use of advanced traffic management systems, which can optimize traffic flow and reduce congestion. This can be achieved through real-time monitoring and control of traffic lights, road signs, and other infrastructure.
- Autonomous Vehicles: 5G can enable the use of autonomous vehicles, which can provide safer, more efficient, and more comfortable transportation. This is made possible through 5G’s low latency and high bandwidth, which enable real-time communication between vehicles and infrastructure.
- Fleet Management: 5G can enable real-time tracking and control of vehicles, which can help optimize fleet management and improve efficiency. This can be achieved through the use of sensors, GPS, and other technologies, which can provide real-time information about vehicle location, fuel usage, and maintenance needs.
Overall, 5G offers many exciting possibilities for improving operations, increasing efficiency, and driving innovation in various industries. By leveraging 5G’s high-speed connectivity, low latency, and increased capacity, enterprises can transform their operations and create a competitive advantage in their industries.
There are several industry verticals that are currently leveraging 5G technology or have plans to do so in the near future. Here are some of the top industry verticals based on our global analysis of 100+ enterprise use cases in-deployment mode/trial -mode:
Manufacturing: Manufacturers are using 5G to improve productivity, reduce downtime, and enable new business models. For example, 5G enables real-time monitoring and control of industrial processes, which can help optimize production and reduce maintenance costs. Additionally, 5G can enable the use of collaborative robots, which can work alongside humans to improve efficiency and flexibility.
Healthcare: Healthcare providers are using 5G to enable remote healthcare applications, such as telemedicine and remote patient monitoring. This can improve access to healthcare services, reduce costs, and enhance patient outcomes. Additionally, 5G can enable the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for medical training and simulation, as well as remote surgical procedures.
Transportation: Transportation companies are using 5G to improve safety, reduce congestion, and enhance the customer experience. For example, 5G enables vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication, which can improve traffic flow and reduce accidents. Additionally, 5G can enable the use of autonomous vehicles, which can provide safer, more efficient, and more comfortable transportation.
Energy and Utilities: Energy and utilities companies are using 5G to optimize energy distribution, reduce downtime, and improve safety. For example, 5G can enable the use of smart grids, which can optimize energy distribution, reduce energy waste, and improve the reliability of the power supply. Additionally, 5G can enable the use of drones for inspection and maintenance tasks, reducing the need for human intervention in potentially hazardous environments.
Overall, these industries are leveraging 5G technology to drive innovation, create new revenue streams, and improve their operations. There is also increasing evidence of the benefits of 5G technology in these industries, including improved productivity, reduced downtime, enhanced safety, and increased customer satisfaction.
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The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has defined below 3 main application areas for enhanced 5G applications. – Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC).
Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB)
eMBB is a 5G application technology that focuses on providing faster and more reliable mobile broadband connectivity to users. It uses a combination of technologies to achieve this, including:
- Millimeter Wave (mmWave) Frequencies: eMBB leverages high-frequency bands, such as mmWave frequencies, to increase network capacity and enable faster data transfer rates. These high-frequency bands offer wider bandwidths, which can support higher data rates, but also have shorter ranges and are more susceptible to interference.
- Massive MIMO: eMBB also uses Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) technology, which enables the use of many antennas to transmit and receive data simultaneously. This can increase network capacity and improve coverage, leading to faster and more reliable connectivity.
- Beamforming: eMBB utilizes beamforming, which allows the network to focus signals in a specific direction to reduce interference and improve signal quality. Beamforming can also enable higher data rates and better coverage.
Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC)
URLLC is a 5G application technology that enables real-time communication with extremely low latency and high reliability. It uses a combination of technologies to achieve this, including:
- Network Slicing: URLLC enables the creation of dedicated network resources for specific use cases through network slicing. This can provide guaranteed quality of service and reduce latency by prioritizing URLLC traffic over other types of traffic.
- Edge Computing: URLLC uses edge computing to process data closer to the end-user, reducing latency and improving reliability. Edge computing involves processing data on servers located closer to the user, instead of sending data back and forth to a central data center.
- Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN): URLLC also utilizes TSN, which is a set of IEEE standards that enable real-time communication over Ethernet networks. TSN can provide deterministic and low-latency communication, which is essential for URLLC use cases.
Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC)
mMTC is a 5G application technology that focuses on providing connectivity for a massive number of IoT devices. It uses a combination of technologies to achieve this, including:
- Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA) Networks: mMTC utilizes LPWA networks, which provide long-range communication with low power consumption. LPWA networks include technologies like Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and Long-Range Wide-Area Network (LoRaWAN).
- Network Slicing: mMTC also uses network slicing to allocate network resources for specific IoT use cases. This can help optimize network resources and reduce latency.
- Edge Computing: mMTC leverages edge computing to process data closer to the end-user, reducing latency and improving reliability. Edge computing can also help reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted over the network.
Overall, these 5G application technologies are critical for enabling a wide range of use cases across different industries. By leveraging the right combination of technologies, businesses can create new revenue streams, improve efficiency, and enhance the overall customer experience.
Spectrum determines coverage and speed. Much of the 5G network’s performance depends upon our proximity to the cell site. Broadly, the 5G spectrum can be classified into below 3 bands. Network operators need to use one or more combinations of the below-mentioned low-band, mid-band, and high-band spectrums.
Low-band spectrum (sub-1GHz) is well-suited for providing wide-area coverage and indoor penetration. It is also the most suitable spectrum for voice and messaging services. From a business perspective, low-band spectrum is valuable for telecom operators as it enables them to offer nationwide coverage and improved indoor coverage. However, it has limited capacity, which can be a bottleneck for data-intensive applications. From a technical perspective, the low-band spectrum has wider coverage but lower bandwidth compared to higher frequencies. This means that it can support fewer devices and slower data transfer rates. However, it can also penetrate obstacles like walls and buildings more effectively, making it ideal for indoor coverage.
Mid-band spectrum (1-6GHz) strikes a balance between coverage and capacity. It offers faster data transfer rates and lower latency compared to low-band spectrum while also providing wider coverage than high-band spectrum. From a business perspective, the mid-band spectrum is valuable for telecom operators as it enables them to offer both coverage and capacity for data-intensive applications. From a technical perspective, the mid-band spectrum has a good balance of coverage and capacity, making it suitable for a wide range of applications. However, it may still be limited in capacity for high-density environments, such as urban areas or stadiums.
High-band spectrum (mmWave frequencies) offers the highest data transfer rates and lowest latency but has limited coverage and penetration. From a business perspective, a high-band spectrum is valuable for telecom operators as it enables them to offer high-speed connectivity for data-intensive applications like VR/AR and cloud gaming. However, it requires a dense network of small cells to provide coverage, which can be expensive to deploy. From a technical perspective, the high-band spectrum has the highest bandwidth, enabling faster data transfer rates and lower latency. However, it is limited in range and can be affected by obstacles like buildings and trees, requiring a dense network of small cells to provide coverage.
Overall, the choice of spectrum for 5G deployment will depend on a variety of factors, including coverage requirements, capacity needs, and cost considerations. Telecom operators will need to balance the technical trade-offs with the business opportunities to determine the optimal spectrum for their 5G deployment strategy.
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Yes, improving the indoor 5G experience offers numerous opportunities, particularly in the areas of business, technology, and social connectivity.
Firstly, businesses can leverage the improved indoor 5G experience to enhance their operations, particularly in industries such as manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare. For instance, 5G-enabled industrial IoT (IIoT) sensors can provide real-time data on equipment performance, supply chain status, and patient health, among other metrics. This can enable businesses to optimize their processes, reduce downtime, and improve customer satisfaction.
Secondly, improving the indoor 5G experience can drive innovation in technology, particularly in areas such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI). For instance, 5G can enable low-latency and high-bandwidth connections, making it possible to stream high-quality AR/VR experiences and process large amounts of data in real time. This can open up new possibilities for immersive entertainment, remote collaboration, and smart city applications.
Thirdly, improving the indoor 5G experience can enhance social connectivity, particularly in the context of remote work and online education. With more people working and learning from home, reliable and high-speed connectivity has become a necessity. 5G can provide faster and more reliable internet connections, enabling people to stay connected with colleagues, friends, and family members even when they are physically distant.
In conclusion, improving the indoor 5G experience can offer numerous opportunities for businesses, technology, and social connectivity, making it a key area of focus for future development.
As of March 2023, the 5G network has been commercially deployed by 250+ wireless service providers across the world.
To track complete details on global 5G network rollouts and regional plans, including global 5G ecosystem players, contact us for membership plans. Members download the “current state of 5G network” eBook to get all the details.
The leading 5G operators in the US include – AT&T, t-Mobile, and Verizon.
The leading 5G network equipment and technology companies include – Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung.
The leading semiconductor and chipset companies include Broadcom, Qualcomm, Mediatek.
The leading real estate infrastructure companies include American Tower and Cellnex.
The leading hyper-scales for 5G with edge computing include – AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.
For details, read our blog “Which 5G Stocks to invest in? Who are the leading 5G companies?
5G networks are facing few challenges. 5G industry standards for ultra-low latency are both complex and delayed. 3GPP is expected to address this in Release 17 which is due out in the second half of 2021.
There are some concerns around delays in low-cost devices with 5G native connectivity. Bulk deployment of 5G devices can be an expensive affair due to the limited availability of such devices or because of cost implications. For instance, smart glasses or smart sensors on AGVs or 5G CPE devices and industrial devices may not be readily available in the market with volumes that drive device cost points down. Thus, devices may turn out to be expensive for mass deployment. As the cost of these features can be high thereby Industrial networks may not migrate from deployed based on Industrial Ethernet and OPC UA etc.
For time-sensitive networks (TSN) Use Cases of Connectivity, there are two concerns: 5G-based TSN has only been tested in trials and not in a large-scale factory.
The second concern is about the upgrade of the existing infrastructure in case it doesn’t comply with the requirements of a private 5G network. This could require an investment in new infrastructure and/or replacement of existing infrastructure.
In some parts of the world, there are concerns around 5G Radio-related health and power usage i.e. perceived as not being green. However, 5G has the advanced capabilities of automated network resource management to deliver energy savings to both operators and the enterprise.
Below are the key considerations to verify industrial-grade performance, reliability, security, and operational & IT technology integration for 5G networks.
- Spectrum – Verify support for multiple frequency bands (FR1/FR2)
- Interference – Identify and eliminate any interference
- Device Complexity – Verify support for sub-6GHz and mmWave
- Radio Access – Test multiple radio access technologies, including 5G new radio (NR) and 4G LTE
- Deployment Modes – Test different deployment modes, i.e., NSA and SA
- Latency – Verify whether the latency requirements specified for eMBB and URLLC use cases are met
- Over-The-Air (OTA) Testing- Verify correct 5G transmission for near field and far field OTA
- Bandwidth – Test variable bandwidth and subcarrier spacing (SCS)
- Power Class – Support testing for different power classes
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