Feature Article

June 13, 2013

What Does it Mean to Have 5G Technology?

Currently, 4G LTE networks are being widely used in most parts of the world. There is a steady, forward push to expand the 4G coverage area. The U.K. is looking to have about 98 percent of the population covered by 2014. Many European and Asian countries have networks running in a number of key cities.

You could say that 4G is still pretty much in its early stages of development. As more operators develop the ability to deploy the 4G LTE network, it will grow and become a part of everyday life in most of the world.

Even though 4G LTE is in its infancy and has not reached a good portion of the population, there are those who think that it is not enough. With the proliferation of mobile devices and the ability to bring your own devices (BYOD) to work, there will always be the need and more so, the desire for faster connections.

Enter into the world of fifth generation or 5G networks. Samsung is a company that has already spent time on a 5G network. Samsung has said that it found a way to transmit large volumes of data using a higher frequency band than the current conventional ones. It has successfully tested its 5G network with 1Gbps speed with the potential of going up to 10Gbps.

Unlike 4G networks, which are based on the standardized LTE radio access technology, 5G will use a higher frequency band. One of the problems with the higher frequencies is that they can easily be block or obstructed. Samsung is also working to resolve this issue.

The fact of the matter is that talking about 5G technology raises a lot of questions. Why do we need it? How will it be deployed? Where will it be deployed? Possibly most important, can it be deployed? Nokia Siemens Networks has decided that these questions need to be answered.

It has already begun to do extensive research in an effort to make out the scope of 5G. Nokia Siemens Networks has come up with three key areas that are important in order to make 5G networks a reality. The three areas of significance are the spectrum, base stations and performance.

A better use of spectrum

In order to meet the increase in capacity and coverage demands, it will be essential to have more radio spectrum for mobile networks. However, skeptics argue that there is little room for larger channel bandwidths and new frequency bands suitable for mobile radio.

According to Nokia Siemens Networks’ research, regulators are looking at new ways to allow a more flexible shared use of spectrum to make the best use of this scarce resource, including Authorized/Licensed Shared Access (ASA/LSA), Licensing Light and Co-Primary Sharing.

Use more base stations

5G networks will need to use more base stations for proper coverage. They will need to be deployed in a heterogeneous network (HetNet), combining macro sites with smaller base stations and using a range of radio technologies.

Nokia Siemens Networks has shown that a thousand-fold increase in network capacity with a 10 Mbit/s minimum downlink user data rate can be achieved by a HetNet configuration that reuses all the existing macro sites and deploys 10 times as many outdoor micro sites. It would also employ up to a thousand times more indoor small cells as macro sites

This raises quite a few questions. With so many access points the possibility of interference is immense. That means that we will need to see a great deal of development in interference coordination strategies. Samsung worked around the interference problem by including 64 antennas in both transmitters and receivers when it conducted its tests.

Get the best performance

It is generally accepted that latency must decrease in line with rising data rates. However, delivering the required customer experience for 5G may require changes in the air interface that simply cannot be achieved with current wide area system designs, such as LTE. This will require a different approach.

Nokia Siemens Networks is thinking about these and many more questions that arise from 5G networks. In the coming months, Insight will closely be following 5G developments and relate the information through a series of articles.




Edited by Alisen Downey


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