5G Technology – The Path, Overview and Challenges

Yossi Segal |

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Though the term 5G technology took center stage in the last year, the path leading towards the development of 5G technology can be seen through numerous industry terms that stemmed in the last few years, planting the seeds for future technology revolution.

BYOD - Bring you own device –which we are already taking for granted – started with the policy of permitting employees to bring personally owned mobile devices (laptops, tablets, and smart phones) to their workplace for use, and access privileged company information and applications. Today, about 75% of employees in high growth markets and 44% in developed markets already use their own technology at work. BYOD is seen almost everywhere, leading the way to yet another new term: Unified Communications - where all BYODs as well as traditional IT and mobile infrastructures are working as a unified system.

The Internet of Things (IoT) – Yet another industry term that bundles the great need for a new 5G technology development. The term refers to the network of physical objects or "things" such as BYODs embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity that exchange data with connected devices. Each device is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing internet infrastructure.

According to Gartner Inc., there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020.
The International Data Cooperation predicts that smart city sensors, transportation, industrial automation systems and the internet of things account for 30.1 billion connected devices worldwide.

So we have these three great technology terms that alone are in a constant state of growth, and consequently drive the huge demand for greater bandwidth capacity, speed and quality. There is still a lot of ambiguity surrounding 5G technology and what it really means, but a few goals are certain:

  1. Faster Data Speed – 5G mobile wireless technology is expected to deliver 10 Gbps peak data rates , 8~10 bps/Hz/cell, which is approximately 50 times faster than 4G technology. Nokia has tested its own 5G technology andhas reported to have achieved 40 times faster data speed than 4G technology.
  2. Ultra-low latency – Today, 4G delivers 50 milliseconds latency. 5G promises to reduce that to one millisecond. In laymen's terms, this means the ability to download a full length movie in one second.
  3. Capacitate Huge Demand and Velocity, Entailing the Internet of Things – this will probably require combining a mixture of aspects including: MIMO technology, green communications, unified communications and a single global wireless network.

Today there are more challenges for implementing 5G technology in a globally realistic manner than actual ability:

Standardization: Though there is great hype with 5G, there is still no standardization set for the technology. There are multiple groups that are working on setting a global standard which will consist of issues such as: interoperability, compatibility with current technologies and the assurance of a future-proof technology.

Infrastructure- 5G will run on the higher frequency range rather than the 4G frequencies we have right now. This will shorten the communication distance range which ultimately results in poor connectivity.

N-LOS – Non Line of Site: N-LOS refers to environment with communication obstacles such has urban environments, forests, densely populated environments that pose great challenges for communications infrastructures. Today, the only technology that can overcome these obstacles is MESH technology, and even here, not all MESH solutions are alike.

The competition to define 5G technology is at its peak. Japanese government said they’d be ready to demonstrate 5G in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics. South Korea responded that they would show trials in 2018 if not by late 2017. Maybe so, however, we've seen how technology has revolutionized the way we communicate on a daily basis in the last few years and what great technology this entails. Can we also predict the new technology challenges that will borne by then and the new demands they will entail? Will 5G include answers to these new posed challenges? That is the question…

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