Key features of 5G networks, and why they matter

5G is the most recent generation of broadband cellular technology. Set to replace 4G LTE networks in the coming years, 5G will deliver increased speed, higher device density, improved signal reliability and extremely low latency. 

If you’re looking to learn more about 5G, you’ve come to the right place. Helping our clients fully understand coming disruptive technologies is a pillar of how The Burnie Group operates. In this article, we dive into some of the vital technology features of 5G and why they matter. 

  

More MIMO, more speed

5G is designed to support data speeds in the 10 gigabits per second (Gps) to a 20Gbps range. The fastest data speed recorded to date in 5G trials is 36Gbps (Etisalat UAE). The fastest 5G speeds are only are only possible in close proximity to a millimetre band 5G base station. In early commercial deployments, users are only experiencing download rates three times faster than 4GLTE networks in the same geography. These early implementations of 5G are using sub-6 bandwidth (1-6Ghz) which will not be able to support the fastest 5G data rates.

While very fast, and needing only very small antennas, connections with the very short submillimeter wavelengths are more unstable. In compensation, 5G devices will use a technique called massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output). MIMO is when multiple antennae have simultaneous connections running parallel data streams. Devices can switch back and forth between these concurrent data streams with exceptional speed and reliability. For example, a phone might be simultaneously connected to signals in various bandwidths. Should a connection become unstable, the phone could immediately switch to an alternative, more stable link in the same bandwidth or a different link using a different bandwidth. This is the fundamental architecture that will underpin 5Gs disruptive potential.

 

High-density support

High densities of devices create congestion and non-responsiveness problems in existing mobile networks. 5G networks will feature many more antennae in a given area than previous generations. As a result, 5G networks should be able to support one million connected devices per square kilometre.

 

Beamforming

5G implements a digital signal processing technique called “beamforming,” which by subtly altering the timing of signals sent to an array of antennae causes wave interference so that some radio waves get cancelled out while others get greatly magnified. This creates highly focused, high-power beams of radio energy. By altering the timing, the antenna array can steer the beam of radio energy precisely towards the receiving antenna.

 

Power efficiency

5G features a low power mode from which a device can wake up extremely quickly. By combining low power mode with the shorter range to transmitter and beamforming focus features, 5G devices will require less energy and have a much longer battery life.

 

Low Latency

Advances in software and network architecture will drive network latency down to 1-2 ms. To achieve this ultra-low latency, 5G’s network design is much more flexible and intelligent than predecessors. 

 

High speed, high-density support, improved power efficiency, and low latency will enable countless technology and business innovations across most industries. To find out how 5G could impact your business, contact The Burnie Group today.

 

By: Douglas Heintzman, Innovation Practice Lead at The Burnie Group


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