What is 5G Technology ?
5G VS 4G Technology – Hi, In this article we’ll talk about a topic that is getting quite the attention lately, 5G. We’ll help answer some questions about 5G and how it may impact you. So what is 5G technology? 5G is a cellular standard that means fifth-generation. It is the next evolution in cellular communication beyond today’s 4G LTE standard. 5G will be developed alongside existing 4G LTE networks. 5G will meet the demands and needsof a network that is growing quickly,with more and more connected devices, more people, the internet of things, and higher dataspeeds for content delivery.
So why all the excitement about 5G? Well, a future with 5G means two main things, increased speed and increased capacity. As the demand for cellular grows, so does the number of users. The 5G network will be able to support up to 100 times the number of connected users or devices. The speed at which users download data and applications are 100 times faster than what 4G LTE network currently delivers.
For example, a two-hour-length movie used to take 26 hours. On 4G LTE, that same movie would take six minutes. And on 5G, the two-hour-length movie will take 3. 6 seconds. Impressive, right? 5G will also be able to support 10 times more battery lifefor low-power applications. Real-time gaming and video will be five times faster than the current standard. So what is the timeline for 5G?
Don’t get too excited just yet. There are trials and testing currently happening to enhance 4G LTE network speeds, but between specifications and hardware development, 5G probably won’t be happening until 2020. Even then, the network will only be a fixed wireless system, which means it won’t be completely mobile. It is safe to say that there are faster data speeds in our future. Let us know what you think about 5G in the comments below.
History of 5G Network Technology
The transition to 5G won’t be instantaneous, in fact it has been going onfrom as early as 2011 – the commercial interception of 4G networks. 4G is atrue mobile broadband solution, which provides the foundational infrastructure for 5G to build upon. 3GPP, is the organization that has been defining global standards for mobile networks since 2G. During the lifespan ofa mobile generation multiple evolutions are undergone, which 3GPP set standards for in the form of releases. They also named 4G LTE, which stands for long termevolution and recently, 5G NR which stands for new radio.
It’s poetic in the sense that 4G is the long term revolution towards the new radio. Standards for the fourth generation of mobile networks began being set as early as 2007 up to 2010 with releases 8 and 9, with 4G infrastructure being deployed for use commercially in 2011. This was the first phase of 4G known simply as LTE. Releases 10, 11 and 12 from 2011 to early2015 were about creating the standardsfor a true 4G mobile network with LTE-Advanced. With LTE-A we see thebeginnings of core 5G technologies suchas small cell deployments and MIMO.
Why 4G Speeds Suckedup ?
Before we begin discussing release 13onwards to 16, the start of the truetransitionary releases to 5G, it isworth spending some more time on understanding why 4G speeds have suckedup until now. LTE advertised speeds up to 100 megabitsper second and LTE-A with speeds up to1 gigabit per second, however for the life span of 4G thus far, speeds for the majority of people have averaged only between 10 to 50 megabits per second. The primary reason why speeds have been so atrocious is that 3G and the initial standards for 4G weren’t designed with amobile future in mind.
The amount and therate of growth of devices have outpacedthe technological ability to supportthem. In fact, in a cruel paradox, the moredevices that have come online, the slowerthe network has become, making advertised speeds unreachable.
Secondarily, much ofthe new infrastructure required to bring noticeable improvements in speed comes with the deployment of LTE-Advanced Pro. LTE-A Pro, begins withrelease 13 and is the final phase of fourth generation mobile networks. It will be what carries us into the fifth generation, bringing major noticeable improvements in the coming years. Release 13 standards began in 2015 and ended inmid-2016, it builds upon the technologiesin releases 10 through 12, and takes the concept of carrier aggregation to thenext level.
Carrier aggregation in simple terms is taking multiple channels of bandwidth and stitching them together tomake bandwidth much larger, think of itlike a single lane highway getting anexpansion, allowing for more traffic to flow through. Now 4G LTE networks have struggled keeping up with the demand for mobile data because they have been limited in capacity to just a single licensed channel.
Now licensed spectrums are what carriers provide and as such, most commercial mobile data flows through licensed spectrums as they offer everyone seamless mobility and predictable performance. Carriers often having bidding wars to obtain more spectrum space for licenced use, and upto this point we’ve essentially used upthe sub-4 gigahertz spectrum space. Much ofthe unlicensed spectrum resides in the 5gigahertz range where technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth reside as well.
LTE-Aallows for carrier aggregation of 5 licensed channels, which improved speeds and latency, but still not noticeably enough due to an exponentially growing demand for more bandwidth. LTE-A Pro, will support carrier aggregation of up to 32 channels in the licensed and unlicensed spectrum which will significantly increase bandwidth and allow us to use the sub-6 gigahertz spectrum much more efficientlydue to the introduction of the unlicensed spectrum space. This will also significantly reduce the bandwidth congestion we often deal with today, with licensed spectrums covering broad areas and unlicensed spectrums and Wi-Ficoexisting together providing more location specific connections with the use of small cell technology.
Moving towards release 14 which started in 2016 and ended just this month, June 2017, 3G PP has essentially ended the bulk of fourth generation mobile discussions, gearinginto full-scale 5G NR standardization. Many technologies that fifth generation mobile networks will expand upon further in the future will begin to be deployed including massive MIMO up to 64 antennas, beam forming and increasing the number of small cells, all in combination with carrier aggregation to ensure a highspeed, low latency 4G LTE-A Proconnection.
This following clip from Nokia will provide a visual representation of releases 10 and onwards technologies in deployment and an insight into the complexity ofcarrier aggregation in an ever-expanding mobile environment: In reality LTE-Advanced networks provide high-speedaccess to anywhere in the country -unlike highways which can only access certain destinations. What may appearsimple is actually complex when considering carrier aggregation on amulti-layer network.
To serve the increasing number of users at more and more locations the number and variety ofradio cells in the network must grow. When an individual LTE-Advanced user is on the move thisinvolves aggregation of an ever-growingrange of cells. Continued network growthleads to further aggregation optionsincluding small cells, as a result the network always dynamically selects the best cells for aggregation at any location and for all users. I like to think of LTE as 3. 75G, LTE-A as 4G and LTE-A Pro as 4. 5G, the transition to 5G.
However, mobile networks have been in a limbo state for the last few years, not really improving much, keeping us stuckat what I like to call 3. 99G. This is because standards for LTE-A Pro were still being completed, and the beginningsof true 4G infrastructure were in theprocess of deployment. Even though standardization for LTE-A finished in 2015,the rollout just completed this year,2017. Due to this reason, speeds and latency have not even reached close to what was advertised and all the sametime we’ve been paying for unreasonable data caps.
Yes, I agree there are probablysome monopolistic reasons for this but a huge factor is accumulating cash flow tosignificantly expand our mobile networkin the coming years with LTE-A Pro and5G infrastructure. As you can see, as 5G is garnering more attention, carriers are scrambling to buy more spectrum spaceand beginning to roll out more infrastructure as fast as possible. The dark days of mobile networks it appears are coming to an end. Also as aside note before we continue, be cautious of deceptive advertising like AT&T branding LTE-A Pro as 5G evolution.
They might as well call it 6G eventual or 7G probable because they mean the samething and are using the title to lurecustomers in. Back on topic, over thecourse of the year leading into 2019 we’ll begin to see major speed and latency improvements. LTE-A Pro states that speeds of 1 to 3 gigabits per second and a latency of around 2 milliseconds are achievable. Now we probably won’t see those speeds until2020 when 5G starts becoming morecommercially prevalent, but what we willsee is significant speed and latency improvements every few months, on the waythere.
Currently with the set of LTE-A infrastructure speeds average out for the majority around 50 to 100 megabits per second. This means we’vefinally reached the speeds that 4G promised in 2011, and it also means we have a lot of room to grow. By 2019, at aconservative rate of growth of small fill deployments, massive MIMO arrays and other technologies – speeds should averagein the 500 megabit per second to 1 gigabit per second range with latenciesin the sub-25 millisecond range.
For the average mobile data consumer, these speeds will be more than enough for a very longtime, and the bandwidth should be large enough to support all the new devices coming to market until 2020. In other words, LTE-A Pro will fill the gap while waiting for 5G standards to become more concrete. Standards for 5G NR are just beginning to evolve into a form of their own with 3 GPP releases 15 and 16. Release 15, the first phase of 5Gstandardization began just this month, June 2017, and will progress onwards until mid-2018, at which point release 16, the second phase of 5G standardization will beginand go on until the end of 2019.
Keeping those dates in mind, 5G infrastructure is expected to start being deployed in late 2019 or early2020, however there have been talks about an accelerated deployment schedule to start as early as, early 2019. Up until then, LTE-Advanced PRO infrastructure will see a rapid increase in deployment, further easing the transition to 5G. As seen in this mobile network adoption graph, 4G adoption is starting to pick up traction and willcontinue to exponentially increase, right on cue with the deployment of LTE-A Pro while 5G standards are finalized.
It is also important to notice when previous mobile generations have peaked in thepast. For 2G it took nearly 20 years fromits deployment in 1991 to peak in 2011,and 3G recently peaked just last year in2016, 15 years from its original deployment. 4G is expected to peak inmobile subscriptions by 2024, 15 years from its original deployment. However, what differentiates it from other mobile generations is its rate of growth, as 2G and 3G networks rate of decline increases. Where as by 2019 you could see 2G, 3G and 4G distribution will beroughly 37. 5, 37. 5 and 25% respectively, by 2024 the majority of the world will have moved to 4G, with it covering 60% plus of network space.
This due to increasing demand for more data faster, more devices and various global initiatives to increase connectivity around the planet . Another reason for the massive adoption for 4G will be itsbackward compatibility in the future to help transition users to 5G.
New mobile chips released as of this year will allow 4G, 5G and Wi-Fi to work together in unison to provide consistent connectivity wherever you are. If for example, 5G beam forming losesline-of-sight connection with your device due to some unforeseen obstacle, your device will be able to switch to a 4G network and back again when connection with the 5G small cell is reestablished, without any noticeable drop in service.
As you can see, 4G, more specifically LTE-A Prois an integral part of the seamless transition to 5G. With the improvements in bandwidth and energy consumption thatLTE-A Pro introduces and 5G willexpand upon, more wireless subscribers coming online, we will see more competitive rates for larger data plans as well as theeventual comeback of the unlimited data plan while we transition to 5G.
This will once again increase the rate of adoption of 4G in the coming years and 5G when it starts becoming commercially available in 2020. These gigabit level speeds, low latencies and lowcosts will open up many use cases for 5G and LTE-A Pro such as, home routers of comparable speeds to Wi-Fi and much more which we’ll explore in future videos in this 5G series.