Internet users are hungry for speed. And that’s why they’re eagerly anticipating 5G – the much talked about next-generation of wireless technology.
The excitement around 5G is obvious. After all, everybody wants fast internet speeds and quick downloads. And this is what 5G promises – to be lightning fast.
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5G’s promoters say that this next-generation mobile network will be a hundred times faster than current 4G technology. It will increase the download speed up to 10 gigabytes/second. On top of that, 5G promises reduced latency, which means faster load times and enhanced responsiveness when doing just about anything on the internet.
But, the question is – how close to reality is 5G? Will we soon be able to use this highly-touted mobile networking infrastructure to its full speed efficiency?
Take a closer look.
Major 5G Challenges
5G is going to be expensive for phone companies
5G technology will be using micro cells or femto cells to deliver a high data rate by serving a small number of users under each cell. Deployment of millions of small cells to cover a big region will require more investment from the phone companies.
Phone companies planning to adopt 5G now face higher deployment costs given the greater density (nearly 250 metres apart) in cell sites required to transmit high-band 5G and deliver new services to more connected IoT devices. That means the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and capital investments are going to be huge for phone companies. Forecasts say Australia will require 10,000+ new carrier grade small wireless sites over the next few years to run 5G to its full efficiency.
Multiple Frequency Bands Adding Complexity
5G can’t operate entirely on millimetre wave frequencies, as the propagation qualities of these bands make it challenging to achieve widespread coverage. Also, these bands still lack technological maturity when it comes to consumer market communication services. That means, a core band below 6 GHz has to be identified. The 6 GHZ band will offer sufficiently large channels to allow 5G operators to provide more innovative and higher quality services than with 4G.
The 5G New Radio standard combines several frequency bands at sub-6 GHz range and millimetre waves of the RF spectrum. Hardware design at millimetre waves is much more complex than the low frequency range. To achieve interoperability among devices across various regions, 5G must support multi-bands – which makes the device even more complex. Lack of coordination among 5G frequency bands across different regions could lead to many troubles for mobile device manufacturers, further leading to a delay in optimum 5G rollout.
To avoid transmission power wastage, 5G will use the beamforming method to transmit data to user devices efficiently. As compared to standard base stations, beamforming finds the precise location of the user and sends out signals to that direction using the antenna array system, which significantly reduces the operating power of the base station.
However, beamforming is a complex task, needing to locate each device under a particular cell. It also requires a high level processing at base stations. Achieving this efficiency will be challenging and time-consuming at this point.
Constantly Increasing Demand for Data volumes
Data volume is the key driver of 5G technology. The amount of data being carried by networks increases by 25 to 50 percent every year, and this growth is expected to continue – not just because of the applications demanding higher data rates but also due to the increasing screen resolution and developments in 3D video.
Moreover, LTE which established that voice is no longer a dedicated circuit switched service but an application that uses using packet data connectivity. Therefore, data capacity for the end to end network has to be increased.
Bringing in 5G
5G aims to work with diverse applications, and complexity is the biggest challenge in its way. Since 5G brings together many wireless technologies on a single platform, technology providers have to overcome all these challenges. The huge demand for a smarter network makes 5G standards evolve faster than the expected timeline. According to analysts, users will be able to access a fully functional 5G network by 2020.