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5G and Beyond Mobile Wireless Technology

(United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland - Alvin Wei-Cheng Wong)




"AI, machine learning, deep learning, autonomous systems and neural networks are not just buzzwords and phrases. Increased computing power, more efficient hardware and robust software, as well as an explosion in sensor data from the Internet of Things - are fueling machine learning, and moving actionable data and intelligence towards edge devices. As AI makes devices, including smartphones and automobiles, more intelligent, mobile is becoming the key platform for enhancing all aspects of our lives, having an impact now and in the future." -- (MIT)

Wireless 5G is the next generation cellular networks which is expected to quench the ever-ending thirst of data rates and interconnect billions of smart devices to support not only human centric traffic, but also machine centric traffic. The march toward 5G continues what has been a natural progression of cellular technology innovation dating back to the early 1980s. But the economic impact stuffed into the promise of 5G is making this evolution the most significant.

5G is different from all “G” predecessors in a lot of ways. 5G is not simply a network, but rather an ecosystem that supports vertical applications and industries, enabled by the three use cases, eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband), URLLC (Ultra-reliable Low-latency Communication) and mMTC (Enhanced Mobile Broadband).

The high-frequency bands, known as millimeter wave, don't travel very far - only a few city blocks from cell sites, in many cases - but they can carry a huge amount of data. Downloads in the bands available can approach 2 gigabits-per second, fast enough to download an entire movie almost instantaneously. The 5G era will bring unprecedented and transformative opportunities across industries.


What is Wireless 5G?


"5G is the foundation to what’s next." -- [Qualcomm]

5G is the next phase in the evolution of global communication networks. It isn’t a single technology, but a multi-modal environment built on advances in radio frequency (RF) design, photonics, free space optics, high-throughput satellites and cognitive radios, just to name a few. The exact combination of advanced technologies and business relationships that will constitute this next phase is still unknown, but it’s clear that revolutionary change is coming to communications that will spur massive waves of innovation in healthcare, industry, defense, transportation and the communities in which we live.

Rather than a protocol or device, 5G refers to an array of networking technologies meant to work in concert to connect everything from self-driving cars to home appliances over the air. It’s expected to provide bandwidth of up to 20 gigabits per second - enough to download high-definition movies instantly and use virtual and augmented reality. On your smartphone.

The new standard of 5G certainly sets ambitious goals. Compared to 4G, 5G aims for a 10X decrease in end-to-end latency, 100X traffic capacity and network efficiency, three times the spectrum efficiency, and 10 times the connection density. 5G will include both mobile and fixed-base wireless applications; for example, a 5G modem can replace fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) installations with wireless connections. 

Four drivers paving the way for 5G are following: Fiber-optic Infrastructure, Small Cell Deployment, High-frequency Spectrum Availability, Bringing 5G Indoors with Fixed Wireless. 5G will serve and change how we think about connectivity for home, enterprises and automotive. 


- How 5G Works: Millimeter Wave, Spectrum, Small Cells and Latency

5G is about Millimeter Wave, Spectrum, Small Cells and Latency. 5G brings three new aspects to the table: greater speed (to move more data), lower latency (to be more responsive), and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once (for sensors and smart devices). The performance benchmarks for 5G wireless service are high: user download speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and uploads of 50 Mbps with a millisecond of maximum signal lag. That’s five times faster than the average household Internet connection in the United States and Europe and 15 times faster than the global average. And all of this needs to be done with three times the spectral efficiency of 4G, effectively tripling the volume of data that can be sent over the same amount of spectrum. 5G networks also must be capable of supporting a million devices in a single square kilometer and maintain connections for mobile devices traveling up to 500 kilometers per hour.

5G standards are not yet finalised and the most advanced services are still in the pre-commercial phase. 5G primarily runs in two kinds of airwaves: below and above 6GHz. 5G needs spectrum within three key frequency ranges to deliver widespread coverage and support all use cases. The three ranges are: Sub-1 GHz, 1-6 GHz and above 6 GHz. Above 6 GHz is needed to meet the ultra-high broadband speeds envisioned for 5G. Millimeter waves, also known as extremely high frequency (EHF), is a band of radio frequencies that is well suited for 5G networks. Compared to the frequencies below 5 GHz previously used by mobile devices, millimeter wave technology allows transmission on frequencies between 30 GHz and 300 GHz.

It has been nearly a decade in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. The first 5G smartphones and infrastructure arrive in 2019, but a full transition will take many more years.


- Three Types of 5G

There are three types of 5G being built in the U.S. including low-band, mid-band and high-band mmWave 5G. However, most of what you’ll get is not the super-fast kind AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile/Sprint all have different strategies. 

  • mmWave high-band 5G: T-Mobile (a little), AT&T and Verizon. About 10x faster than LTE with extremely low latency, which means individual messages are transmitted almost instantaneously. But you need to be standing really close (stay within 80 feet) to a tower or transmitter to get those speeds.
  • Mid-band 5G: Sprint. About 6x faster than LTE, but with a smaller footprint than low-band.
  • Low-band 5G: T-Mobile/AT&T. About 20 percent faster than 4G LTE.

Most of what you’re hearing about 5G today actually refers to mid-band or low-band, which won’t be that much of a difference from today’s wireless connectivity.


The 5G Revolution Will Drive Future Innovations


Mobile carriers around the world are hard at work developing and making plans for next-generation 5G networks, a significant evolution of today's 4G LTE networks. 5G is being designed to meet the very large growth in data and connectivity of today’s modern society. This revolution will deliver by far the most intelligent mobile network the world has ever seen, as well as being the most "open," creating exciting new opportunities for Internet of Things (IoT) with billions of connected devices, and tomorrow’s innovations. 5G initially operates in conjunction with existing 4G networks before evolving to fully standalone networks in subsequent releases and coverage expansions.

Mobile is the largest technology platform in human history. We're at the dawn of something new that will define the next decade and generation of connectivity. 5G uses radio waves or radio frequency (RF) energy to transmit and receive voice and data connecting our communities. 5G will keep us connected in tomorrow’s smart cities, smart homes and smart schools. Future smart factories and retailers, self-driving cars, untethered virtual and augmented realities, and other yet to be discovered experiences will grow up on tomorrow's 5G networks. Much like 4G introduced the world to the gig economy, mobile 5G will jumpstart the next wave of unforeseen innovation.

Carriers (AT&T, Verizon, ..) in the (U.S.) national wireless industry are developing their 5G networks and are working to acquire spectrum. 5G is currently being developed and trialed ready for commercial launch from 2020. Widespread availability of 5G services is expected by 2025. 



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