The next generation mobile network is about to take hold. 5G promises ultra-high speeds, low latency and increased coverage. Fit to build smart cities, power telehealth, drive autonomous vehicles, and flip the switch on high definition 4K video, the expectation is that 5G will provide gigabit speeds, sub one-millisecond latency, and the capacity to connect upward of 2.5 million devices per square mile.
5G is defined as the fifth generation mobile wireless standard based on the IEEE 802.11ac standard for broadband technology. At work behind the scenes of 5G are Millimeter wave bands (26, 28, 38, and 60 gigahertz) with performance levels as high as 20 gigabits per second; Massive MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output - 64-256 antennas) with performance expectations up to ten times current 4G networks; and low-band 5G and mid-band 5G, which use frequencies from 600 MHz to 6 GHz.
As early 5G networks begin to emerge—some believe as soon as 2018—the entire ICT ecosystem plays a role. Moves are being made across the value chain, from chip makers to network providers to ensure broader, more ubiquitous availability.
5G is formed via a global standard that is agreed upon by all countries and all companies involved. One of the first such standards to emerge was 5G NR (New Radio) in December 2017, adopted by 3GPP. 5G NR attempts to standardize the way in which all carriers and network infrastructure providers build out networks.
On the spectrum front, as the demand for higher-speed necessitates higher frequency spectrum (the millimeter wave range falls between 24 gigahertz and 100 gigahertz), network providers have been scrambling to find enough licensed spectrum. Maintaining wide coverage without the proper spectrum won’t suffice, thus prompting some to move to unlicensed spectrum. And with it comes the age-old issue of higher frequency leading to shorter range.
But 5G isn’t just a wireless discussion. It is also placing heavy demands on fixed-wireline networks. As these networks use much higher radio frequencies than today’s cellular networks, they carry larger amounts of data, but at shorter ranges. Enhanced usage of 5G will come in the form of adding many additional small radios or “cells” closer together—some project as close as 200 feet apart. And those cells must be connected to miles of fiber. 5G could usher in the era where wired and wireless networks blur through the adoption of ubiquitous technologies.
The coming 5G tide is ready to raise all boats across the broadband infrastructure. All players, from wireless to wireline, and from the cloud computing to virtualized technologies are positioning themselves for success—and working together along the way.
TIA’s working groups, business networking, videos and services are ready to help you navigate 5G and network transformation.
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