5th generation telecom standard (5G) has been buzzing in recent times to cater to nearly 2 billion mobile subscribers worldwide by 2025. But what is 5G? Unlike 4G, 5G is more than just a telecom generation, it is capable of having a network within a network. It serves many new applications like Machine to Machine (M2M) communication, Internet of Things (IoT) and enables new revenue growth opportunities for the communication service providers (CSPs).
Let us look at the evolution of 5G:
|Generation||Technology||Feature Services||Peak Speed|
|1G was about analog communication||Cellular technology [AMPS]||Only Voice||14kbps|
|2G was the era of Digital Technology||GPRS, EDGE||Voice, SMS, Email||384Kbps|
|3G was the era of Mobile Internet||UMTS, CDMA||Video Calling, BoD, Web browsing||2Mbps|
|4G was the era of Mobile Broadband||LTE||VoLTE, VoIP, High speed data, Video calling, IPTV, OTT Streaming||100Mbps|
What is 5G?
5G network is promised to transform businesses and society. Significantly, it enables faster connectivity and faster services and brings new opportunities, new revenue streams, and new business models with it.
In short, with a higher capacity, 5G is expected to connect anything (mobiles, machines, sensors…) in the physical world to the Internet.
4G has laid the mobile broadband platform for audio & video content over the Internet, Social networking, P2P file sharing, Streaming apps. Examples are different OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, and so on. As the mobile data traffic (Video streaming) went up with the increasing mobile subscriptions, simply 4G cannot satisfy this enormous demand. Here are some interesting statistics:
- Mobile broadband traffic is expected to grow ~ 30% YoY until 2024
- Advanced services such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), UHD, 360Deg Video are also in demand, expected to transform the digital world
- In addition, recent analysis shows OTT (Netflix/ Prime) traffic went up by ~ 55%
- Moreover, the global Internet of Things market is expected to reach ~ USD 724.2 Billion by 2023
1. 5G Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB):
5G enhances limited 4G LTE capabilities to provide a greater capacity mobile broadband with higher bandwidth and higher throughput [1 Gbps user exp., at least 50 Mbps everywhere]. The ultimate goal is to deliver seamless coverage with high connection density to the end-users.
1.1 Smart Home/ Office
- Mobile broadband handles heavy data traffic of hundreds of users in an office environment.
- Alexa-enabled smart home solutions are capable of controlling the lights, TV, music system, AC, Geyser, Air purifier, Vacumn cleaner, and other connected devices.
1.2 Virtual Reality (VR)
- High resolution streaming display (4k/8k video) for watching virtual reality contents
- Virtual Reality is not just about gaming, it is revolutionizing other industries like Sports, Education, Military, Medicine, etc. Examples are ClassVR (Educational VR App), VR360 (science and industrial use), Facebook Horizon (online gaming), VR-enabled movies, etc.
1.3 Augmented Reality (AR)
Unlike VR, augmented reality superimposes an image on top of a video or camera to feel like a real physical thing with sound and other technologies. Some examples are:
- Google Map AR application shows digital navigation by recognizing the building names, street view & visual positioning.
- Google Lens reads the object & gives all essential details
- Snapchat AR filter transforms the objects & their characters by introducing a 3D effect
2. 5G Massive machine type communication (MMTC):
Millions of IoT sensors deployed very densely to capture, track small signals and send them back to the centralized server. The IoT signals are:
- Occasional data communication (Delay tolerant)
- Low data rate
- Low data volume
- Long battery life
- A large number of devices / deep coverage
2.1 NB-IoT (narrow band), Mass sensors
- Firstly, agricultural mass sensors to track weather parameters
- Secondly, connected wearables that capture health conditions such as Apple Watch, Fitbit, etc.
- Finally, industrial IoT applications use mass sensors (temp sensor, pressure sensor, image sensor, motion detector sensor, and many more..)
2.2 Smart City, Smart Meters
- For example, Smart Parking, Smart street lighting, Waste management, Smart connected grid, and many more.
- In other words, smart indoor electric appliances, connected utility meters, home security systems, smart locks are connected meters.
3. 5G Ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC):
5G new radio communication (5G NR) addresses LTE latency issues and it is capable of much faster & smoother communication with a minimal delay (or latency) and high reliability.
Above all URLLC is the most powerful and promising 5G capability, it is also termed as critical machine type communication.
Ultra-high reliability: It means the network cannot have downtime even for few seconds.
Ultra-low latency With URLLC latency of 0.5 milliseconds, it ensures almost zero time lag from the controlling point.
3.1 Mission Critical Applications (Remote surgery, Robots)
A remote surgical robot is able to conduct surgery from a distant controlling point where network reliability and very low latency are of utmost importance. Therefore, 5G secures zero time tag in the whole surgery process otherwise it might cause very severe consequences.
3.2 Self Driving Car
- Similarly, using URLLC service, the vehicles connect to each other, to other network services, to other cyclists, and guarantee no accident takes place.
- Whereas the car infotainment system like music, gaming are other services deployed on the eMBB capability not on URLLC.
4. 5G Fixed wireless access (FWA):
Finally & most importantly, CSPs have the unused spectrum band which they can monetize for the suburban areas by providing fixed wireless access with a minimum speed of 50 Mbps. The FWA revenue model works on top of the eMBB revenue model.
4.1 Hotspots/ Public Transportation
For instance, using consumer premise equipment (CPE) to boost indoor and outdoor coverage by the ethernet hotspot can be an FWA case.
4.2 Broadband everywhere:
Similarly, FWA also provides consistent broadband coverage at 50Mbps at rural cellular sites using the unused allocated spectrum.
P.S. Check out more on 5G speed, 5G vs 4G here=> 5G speed & countries with 5g network