What is 5G? What is it for?: The best possible explanation

This is one of those articles that will certainly clarify all your doubts. A long article that deserves to be read, there is no half-measure in the explanation of 5G. Everything you need to know is here.

It was 30 years of evolution. Mobile communications have dramatically changed our society and the way we communicate. Now it is hard to imagine life without modern mobile systems, as we had before 1990.

The mobile enables our modern life, allows modern societies to operate efficiently and had a major impact on modern politics, economics, education, health, entertainment, logistics, travel, and all industries.

Since the first analog-generation AMPS system developed in the USA by Bell Labs in the 1970s, each new generation has appeared approximately every ten years. But let’s look at 5G and let’s go to some history. This is the best explanation we can give you the advantages and disadvantages of the 5G network in our life.

What do you need 5G for?

Over the past 10 years, we have seen the dramatic and continuous expansion of smart personal devices, smartphones, and tablets, combined with the expansion of data networks for companies and large institutions, and the growth of ultra-broadband services for mobile and fixed access.

Smartphones have been an important factor in driving change in the value of the mobile services industry as voice and text to an increasingly data-centric model. In addition, with the expected growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) over the next few years, there will be more users, more devices and a more diverse variety of device types than ever before.

By the end of 2014, the number of devices connected by mobile devices has exceeded the number of people on Earth, and by the end of 2019, there will be about 1.5 mobile devices per capita. 11.5 billion mobile devices, exceeding the projected population of the world (7.6 billion). And this is just a start. A broad consensus in the mobile industry anticipates a strong continuity of this trend in the coming years.

This figure shows the analysis (done by Bell Labs Consulting) of traffic growth since the dawn of the Internet era in terms of the five-year constituent trends segments. Mobile broadband is the most critical case and is expected to continue to be one of the key reasons driving the requirements for 5G.

It goes far beyond basic mobile Internet access and covers rich interactive applications for work, media, and cloud or augmented reality entertainment. Streaming, cloud-based applications, and services are the biggest search engines.

They are made possible by better, trend-enhanced devices and applications for higher resolution on our screens, with the introduction of 4K and 8K and the availability of lower latency and better performance 4G (LTE) networks, but we are reaching a limit.

The confluence of growing content sources and the increased resolution of produced content creates exponential growth in the bandwidth required to deliver the content demanded by the consumer. Bell Labs predicts an increase in overall bandwidth consumption, with video content being the bulk of the data being transferred.

Mobile data traffic has experienced explosive growth over the last decade and will continue to grow exponentially. Mobile data is growing at a rate of between 25% and 50% per year and should continue until 2030.

While the past has been about connecting people, the future is connecting things – improving personal life by optimizing business processes.

Does 5G apply to whom?

One of the most important topics in this industry is the transition from mobile broadband-focused on smartphones to the programmable world wherein mobile broadband networks connect not just people but form the backbone of Internet for Things IoT). It is expected to be the next revolution in the mobile ecosystem. IoT services are likely to be a key factor for the future growth of the mobile.

Internet of Things is being formed now, digitizing processes and linking physical things to t Internet. And it will continue to occur on a large scale in the next decade.

This physical world scan allows for a variety of innovative use cases, the programmable world improves people’s lives through automation, improved connectivity, and intelligence. It also helps industries become more efficient, agile and real-time.

In the last decades, Internet has evolved from a static hypertext repository interconnecting documents to a dynamic universe of humans, machines and networked applications.

With IoT, practically anything, all things ‘big’ and small: cars, houses, smart energy, medical sensors, animal collars, will be able to send and receive data over Internet. It is believed that total mobile traffic generated by IoT devices will account for 2% of total mobile traffic in the near future.

However, there will be significant growth in IoT video streaming from video surveillance cameras, body cameras and similar devices with the transfer of content to cloud-based video analytics platforms.

With the advent of IoT, operators will also have to deal with the need for massive data increases to deal with the sporadic transmissions generated by billions of devices. The IoT traffic generates a substantially larger volume of signaling traffic in relation to the data traffic. For example, a typical IoT device may require 2500 transactions or connections to consume 1 MB of data, while the same amount of data may be consumed in a video.

Simply put, there is a bottleneck approach.

The number of mobile users around the world will nearly double from 2010 to 2020, furthermore, as said earlier, mobile calls are not just made by people, but increasingly by machines and things. Industry analysts estimate the number of devices could be 1 billion by 2035.

Although you can never successfully predict what each future technology generation should deliver to satisfy future end-users, the industry has reached some consensus on use cases and use scenarios for 5G: 5G will be about people and things. It is a door opener for new possibilities and use cases, many of which are still unknown.

So what are the possibilities in the real world?

The 5G will be the platform that will allow growth in many industries, from the IT industry to the automotive, entertainment, agriculture and production industries. The 5G will connect the factory of the future and will help create a fully automated and flexible production system. It will also be the facilitator of a super efficient infrastructure that saves resources.

We can expect business-critical security applications to be increasingly run on mobile networks. This requires absolutely rigorous, reliable and predictable levels of service in capacity, throughput, and latency. These levels will far exceed those that exist today.

One of the new categories of devices that have developed more is the wearables.

  • The most commonly worn wearables are smart and fitness clocks and e-health devices. In the future, people will have several sensors placed in and around their body.
  • These sensors can synchronize with the phone and, for example, give an overview of the training, statistics, the physical condition of an elderly person or the sugar levels of a diabetic.
  • If a person has a degraded health condition or there is a health emergency, a doctor can immediately use body sensors and the camera of the smartphone to remotely diagnose the patient and – if necessary – send help much faster.
  • Hospitals can arrange remote robotic surgeries through a personalized 5G network that minimizes latency as if the surgeon were physically present next to the patient.
  • Augmented reality has many applications. Used for the first time for military, industrial and medical applications, it has also been directed to commercial and entertainment areas.
  • Augmented Reality (RA) enhances a real-world view with real-time graphics and information displayed based on the user’s location and/or view.

For example, shoppers might experience what a piece of clothing looks like without trying it.

  • Also can be used in emergency situations, firefighters could use RA to see the ambient temperature, the layout of a building, exits and potentially dangerous areas. Police could use facial recognition RA to identify a suspect in real time from the police database before the jail was made.
  • Students can learn within a virtual environment led by a remote teacher. Students can gain experiences as large as the beginning of the universe or as small as dividing an atom. In product development, virtual reality can be used to design products before they are built, reducing time and cost.

Think about capturing and streaming 360-degree virtual reality videos from your smartphone or being virtually present in 8K. Remotely controlling robots, rovers, devices or avatars in real time can help us work safely out of dangerous places. For public safety, robots could be sent to work in dangerous situations, such as bomb disposal or firefighting. This, of course, more efficiently than we have at the moment.

The mobile system needs to be extremely reliable and latency of less than 1 millisecond is required for immediate haptic feedback.

The automotive sector will be the driving force behind 5G

The automotive sector is expected to be a very important new driver for 5G, with many use cases for mobile communications for vehicles.

The US Secretary of Transportation said that unmanned cars will be used around the world until 2025. The IEEE predicts that by 2040, 75% of vehicles will be self-employed. While the stand-alone vehicles developed today depend primarily on sensors and onboard systems, their performance and safety could be greatly improved through 5G communications.

Creating a secure transportation infrastructure is an important area where stand-alone cars and road infrastructures allowed by 5G networks can reduce accidents, saving millions of lives every year.

Self-employed vehicles can reduce accidents and improve road use, as vehicles can be driven closer together and more safely than human drivers can achieve. Transportation companies can take advantage of the autonomous car fleets. They can be used more effectively having fewer accidents caused by human error. The travel time can be used for other activities with the help of autonomous vehicles. This can save an hour a day for people who live and travel through cities.

The communication system must be extremely reliable because it involves human security. The final latency requirement must be as low as 5-10 ms.

Cities will grow with 5G

Cities are growing faster, so much so that it is increasingly challenging for large cities to manage their operations. 5G will play an important role in the development of smart cities and help us truly understand our daily tasks.

Communications service providers are looking at smart cities as a market to reach consumers of power, government, transportation, utilities, and other sectors. With sensors enabled by 5G networks, for example, all water pipes can be monitored in real time and utilities could create a network that can detect, process and transmit locations and severity of a leak and alert adequate resources in real time, without the need for human intervention.

So far, companies have used networks and devices for what they can provide, mostly just voice and data, but the future is about being able to meet the verticals of the industry in a personalized way, such that they would be willing to pay for the additional gains in productivity and value creation.

Industry 4.0 enabled by 5G networks can enable manufacturers to automate the plant from end to end by optimizing operations and even configuring and destroying virtually whole new product lines or factories. With trillions of sensors, machine controlled robots and standalone logistics, all capable of talking to one another and remotely operated in real time through 5G networks, manufacturers can achieve 50% improvement in manufacturing productivity, eliminating waste, and ensuring quality, eliminating process inefficiencies, minimizing labor and energy costs, responding to real-time demand with zero delays and zero stock.

Real-time sensor monitoring and component performance, a collaboration between a new generation of robots and the introduction of wireless connected wearables and augmented reality on the factory floor will be a reality.

This will reduce administrative costs compared to maintaining multiple systems, eliminate the cost to install cabling and increase the flexibility to change factory production flow.

Considers the potential reduction of CO2 emissions.

It is expected to increase almost sixfold in China, for example from 190 megatons to more than 1100 megatons in 35 years’ time. Connected cars, intelligent and autonomous navigation can reduce millions of tons of CO2 and help cities become cleaner.

One of the big problems of 5G.

There are already several global operators claiming the first 5G network launches. But the truth is that it is not so.

Despite the immense possibility of 5G bandwidth (going from 1Gbps theoretical from 4G-A to 10Gbps), there is a physical limitation to allow these speeds.

The frequencies used here from 2G to 4G (1-8Ghz) have a physical limit in that the lower the frequency, the better an obstacle penetrates. But it has the speed limitation, up to 1Gbps.

Now the 5G uses higher frequencies, which allow for high data throughput, but can not travel long distances. In fact, the 20Gbps were obtained in the laboratory with a few meters of distance. How will the operators solve this dilemma?

Disguised 5G Antennas

The solution is multiplied by the number of antennas. Basically every 500m, we will have an antenna somewhere, called a small-cell. This raises an obvious problem, which is the aesthetic part. There are ideas to use public lighting poles or sanitation covers to hide the antennas, but only over time will we see which solution each operator found.

At the same time, 4G should be kept in parallel, to ensure coverage of the most isolated sites, since it is the technology that allows the best distance latency.

All the improvements to be made by the operators in the Radio Access Network (RAN), must be accompanied by the central processing capacity, in the call of the Core Network.

Due to this exponential increase in data, the form found was through the virtualization of the network services, introducing the possibility of creating units as needed, all done in an autonomous way. At the same time, the data processing is distributed by several (geographically separated) sites, thus allowing the latency to be as low as possible for the RAN part.

And all of these changes have a heavy financial cost for operators, since the return on investment will be long term, and customers always want the best “for today”. The race is launched.

And so the future of mobile networks is coming.

But this is only the beginning, I think we have not yet realized how much our life will be affected by this new paradigm, we are learning and walking at the same time, pushing the limits of technology with each passing day and hoping that tomorrow will always be one little better than it is today.

A little history of mobile networks

  • The first generation networks were dominated by analog, voice calls only.
  • Second generation or 2G networks were dominated by digital audio signals and text messages.
  • The development of second-generation GSM networks started in 1981. In 1989, standardization was established by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute).
  • The first GSM 2G call was made in Finland on 1 July 1991 by Nokia and Siemens. The first SMS message was sent on December 3, 1992.

3G arrived a little later

The third generation or 3G was more about scaling the number of users on the network for voice, text messaging and data communications, but was overwhelmed by an unpredictable “tsunami” of data communications.

Third-generation (3G) development was a global standardization effort that was conducted in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

The first 3GPP meeting was held in December 1998. Between then and the end of 2007, 3GPP produced five global standards for 3G networks encompassing the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and High-Speed Packet Data Access

(HSPDA). The LTE mobile communications system was developed to provide high capacity and high data service rate for mobile multimedia.

The original 4G (LTE) standards emerged in 2008 and focused on the mobile market. Over time, new standards were introduced in the form of releases, LTE evolved into LTE-Advanced to LTE-Advanced Pro launched in late 2015. The new term was intended to mark the point in time where the LTE platform was drastically improved to meet new markets, as well as additional features to improve efficiency.

And finally, we reached the 5th generation. The 5G is the next big wave of mobile telecommunications standards beyond 4G. It is generally assumed that 5G systems will emerge around 2019-2020, I personally believe that by 2021, the commercial exploitation of 5G will explode.

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