What is 5G and how it is better than 4G?
Fifth-generation wireless (5G) is the latest iteration of cellular wireless technology, which is engineered to greatly increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks. The operating range of 5G network will be between 3 GHz and 300 GHz frequency bands. 5G is thus having a very wide range of availability, over very high frequency spectrum.
The Sub-6 GHz bands are satisfactory for conventional tele-communication purposes (FDD/TDD), whereas bands above 6 GHz can be used for more robust enterprise applications. 5G thus brings a very huge possibility for Technological and Scientific advancements.
- 10x decrease in network latency, as low as 1ms
- 100x more connection density, improving efficiency in connectivity between IoT devices
- 10x more throughput by enabling more uniform, multi-Gbps peak rates
- 10x faster than 4GLTE speeds
- Increased availability and massive MIMO
The major technologies making up 5G infrastructure are
MM waves (milli-meter waves)
MM waves are typically available between 6GHz and 300 GHz frequency bands, where there is very much less traffic of connections. Frequencies being used till now are mostly sub 6GHz; where there is a whole lot of network traffic exists. Hence scientists are experimenting the 6GHz – 30GHz bands, where there is huge bandwidth is available, due to availability of MM waves. This can not only improve the number of connections, but also improve efficiency of the connections.
The downside is that the MM waves are not much efficient indoors and are absorbed by obstacles. To overcome this limitation, Small Cell technology is used.
Small Cell technology
As mentioned above, the MM waves having the problem of travelling a very long range, as they are bound to be absorbed by obstacles. Hence, to avoid this problem, many Small Cell base stations are established in between long range transmitters to improve transmission.
Massive MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output)
The 4G base stations have around a dozen ports for antennas that handle all of the cellular traffic. Massive MIMO base stations can accommodate around 100 ports, allowing the capacity of 5G networks to scale up multiple times.
Because of this massive MIMO, as the numbers of connections are massive, there will be an unprecedented amount of signal interference.
Beam forming is adapted in order to overcome the signal interference issues caused due to massive MIMO. Beam Forming is like a traffic signaling system for a cellular signal. Instead of broadcasting a signal in every direction, it allows a base station to send a focused stream of data to specific user/device. This precision prevents interference and it makes the MIMO system very much efficient in transmission
Current base stations have a limitation of either to transmit data or to receive data, one at a time. Both Transmission and reception cannot occur at the same time in the same channel as there will be interference. Using Full Duplex technology, this conflict will be avoided as there will be switches routing the incoming or outgoing data stream in a channel to another channel, based on the oncoming traffic.
5G for Enterprise and Role of 5G in advancement of Science and Technology
The advantages of 5G such as low latency, ultra reliable connectivity and increased throughput will help us achieve wonders across manufacturing, utilities, healthcare, retail, automotive and agriculture industries.
5G can be a boost for the below technologies, possessing great potential in Research & Development.
- Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence – Wide frequency availability of 5G enables the possibility of 360 degree streaming, thus improving Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence to a greater extent.
- Autonomous Driving – Ultra-high speed connectivity and very low latency means the efficiency in communicating with autonomous systems is vastly improved
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- Robotics and Machine-to-Machine interactions
- Remote Access
- eHealth and Medical – Health facilities over the internet including Remote access to surgery are now possible with high speed and low latency connectivity
- Cloud Gaming
- Smart City enablement
- Industrial Automation
5G for India
The Department of telecommunications (DoT) is exploring the possibilities of providing 5G in India, in the mid-band spectrum of 3.3-3.6 GHz. The coverage and speed availability is good at this range in the sub 6GHz band, which is better for indoor connectivity. With the process of finding the right 5G spectrum is important; also we need to consider the availability of the infrastructure that is required for 5G. The base price suggested by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) at 492 Crore Rupees per MHz, seems to be very big investment for Telecom operators in India. With the operators already burdened by debt which they possess to TRAI, this seems like a huge leap ahead.
Finally, what’s in it for us?
As an end user, the advantages in daily life activities would not be a significant improvement over 4G. Of course, the speeds would be better but the real-time speeds available for us would not make a night and day difference, unless 5G is implemented at over 6GHz band. Even when it is implemented, the tariffs may increase significantly over what we are paying for 4G. This is because the amount of investment required by telecos is very huge. In India, 5G would require a very significant time for adoption.
According to a latest survey, India is estimated to have less than 5% of population adapted to 5G, by 2023. Source: Reuters
5G supported Phones
As of Q1, 2020 we have only a handful number of smartphones which support 5G, however this can improve in the future.
- Samsung Galaxy S10 series
- Samsung Galaxy S20 series
- Samsung Galaxy Note10 series
- LG V50 ThinQ
- Realme X50 Pro 5G
- Redmi K30 5G
- Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G
- Huawei Mate X
- Nokia 8.3