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5G Deployments and Use Cases

(The Three Key Features of 5G - Qualcomm)

- Overview 

Today's digital world has caused some changes in the way we do business, with workspaces shifting from corporate areas to small residential complexes, it has opened up many opportunities that require high-speed internet connections for employee engagement and uninterrupted business operations. 

Furthermore, the ever-increasing data traffic due to the presence of interconnected devices in homes, businesses, etc., creates an additional need for high bandwidth. Because of this, the deployment of 5G is accelerating around the world.


- 5G Network Deployment

Breakthrough technologies that are integral to 5G, such as Massive MIMO, network slicing, beamforming and network function virtualization (NFV) require phased approaches to new 5G network deployment. They also require significant investment, with telecom operators expected to spend upwards of $300 billion on new 5G core network deployment over the next decade. This new monumental task lends itself to a wide variety of strategies and options, each with inherent benefits and drawbacks surrounding 5G network technology and access to faster speeds.

Unlike past historical transitions in wireless architecture, 5G represents an ongoing evolution of existing networks rather than the wholesale replacement or “forklift” approach to deployment that was utilized for LTE, with limited financial payback for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). 5G will be deployed over a number of years, spreading as new equipment is finalized. It will require new transmission infrastructure, including thousands of cell towers and tens of thousands of antenna – known as small cells and DAS (distributed antenna systems) – that will be deployed on utility poles and other urban infrastructure. It will also need fiber – lots of fiber.

The 5G wireless rollout will have a major impact on both the number and types of ICs in end-user devices, and on the base stations and repeaters needed to transmit the higher frequency signals. Looking into the future there is no reason to doubt that mobile communications will continue to develop, reaching segments of the industry such as microelectronics, automotive, manufacturing, logistics, energy, as well as sectors such as financial, healthcare and others that are not currently fully exploiting the potential of mobile services. The capabilities of 5G also will impact the amounts of data generated in a 5G ecosystem, increasing demand for servers, storage, and photonic devices.


- Emerging 5G Mobile Services and Network Requirements

5G network will enable emerging services that include remote monitoring and real-time control of a diverse range of smart devices, which will support machine-to-machine (M2M) services and Internet of Things (IoT), such as connected cars, connected homes, moving robots and sensors. 5G networks will deliver richer content in real time ensuring the safety and security that will make the wireless services more extensive in our everyday life. Some example of emerging services may include high resolution video streaming (4K), media rich social network services, augmented reality, and road safety. 

The sub-optimal use of the mobile network is due to the diversity, and even conflicting, communications requirements of such businesses. One business customer, for example, may require ultra-reliable services, whereas other business customers may need ultra-high-bandwidth communication or extremely low latency. The 5G network needs to be designed to be able to offer a different mix of capabilities to meet all these diverse requirements at the same time.


- 5G Main Types of Connected Services

Broadly speaking, 5G is used across three main types of connected services, including enhanced mobile broadband, mission-critical communications, and the massive IoT. A defining capability of 5G is that it is designed for forward compatibility—the ability to flexibly support future services that are unknown today.

  • Enhanced mobile broadband: In addition to making our smartphones better, 5G mobile technology can usher in new immersive experiences such as VR and AR with faster, more uniform data rates, lower latency, and lower cost-per-bit.
  • Mission-critical communications: 5G can enable new services that can transform industries with ultra-reliable, available, low-latency links like remote control of critical infrastructure, vehicles, and medical procedures.
  • Massive IoT: 
  • 5G is meant to seamlessly connect a massive number of embedded sensors in virtually everything through the ability to scale down in data rates, power, and mobility—providing extremely lean and low-cost connectivity solutions.


[Alberta, Canada]

- All 5G is Not the Same – Sub-6, mmWave and Unlicensed Spectrum

Without getting too deep into the weeds with respect to Low-band, Sub-6 and mmWave, at a high level, Low and Mid-band (Sub-6) 5G generally has longer reach and coverage, whereas mmWave offers higher capacity and faster multi-gigabit performance, but requires a denser population of cellular base deployment because its reach is only a few hundred meters and it has challenges with penetrating walls. 

Each wireless operator will provide a different combination of technologies to balance performance and coverage. The reality will be that the US will deploy a mix of 5G technologies with AT&T and Verizon driving mmWave deployments initially, while T-Mobile and Sprint appear to be driving low-band spectrum for a coverage play. Regardless, the other intrinsic benefit of 5G technology in general is latency. Where 4G can have ping times in the range of 25 - 50ms or so, 5G has the promise of single digit millisecond latency. And when it comes to next generation 5G applications, latency will be critical.


- 5G Spectrum and Frequencies

For reference, 4G networks operate at frequencies below 6 GHz, while 5G networks can operate at frequencies up to 86 GHz or higher in the future. The higher the frequency, the faster the potential speed, but these higher frequencies are also more susceptible to physical structures and even weather conditions (such as heavy rain or humidity). Unlike 4G, higher frequency 5G signals will be challenged by buildings and other common structures that require more "beamforming" antennas to be placed near or inside buildings. 

Low-frequency signals are better at penetrating structures - such as bass from a car next to you or an apartment above you - but the data speed is slower. When you hear that 5G services are available in your area, you first need to figure out which frequency band the network is mainly built on. 

  • The fastest speeds will come from high-band millimeter wave frequencies, up to 10 times the speed of LTE, but they require you to be very close to the transmitter to achieve this level of performance (in some tests, within 80 feet of the transmitter). This is what you might see in open high-density spaces such as airports, shopping malls, and stadiums. Currently, Verizon and AT&T have the most ambitious millimeter wave network plans, and T-Mobile is carefully integrating it. 
  • Midband or sub-6 GHz networks will try to provide the best of both worlds: faster speeds and larger coverage areas, speeds 5 to 6 times the speed of LTE, and a service area radius of several miles. Midband networks will operate in a more congested frequency spectrum, which will affect the consistency of speed and delay. Sprint is the only carrier focused in building out a midband primary network.
  • Low-band 5G provides the best coverage—each tower may have hundreds of square miles—but the speed is the lowest. Many people believe that enhanced 4G LTE is 20% faster than real 5G. T-Mobile chose to use low frequency bands when it launched because it will provide coverage to the largest number of people at the fastest speed, especially in rural areas. 

When everything is said, all operators may eventually have multi-frequency networks. Lower-density rural areas will benefit from wider coverage of low-frequency transmitters, while high-density urban areas will more easily justify the cost of installing a large number of short-range high-frequency transmitters. Once completed, T-Mobile's merger with Sprint will become the first example of a multi-frequency network.



[More to come ...]


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