At the end of 2018, the industry association 3GPP(1) defines any system that uses “5G NR” (5G New Radio) software as “5G”, which is the fifth generation of cellular network technology.5G has brought three new aspects – higher speed, lower latency, and connection of multiple devices both as sensors and IoT devices. 5G system is a non-stand-alone network because it still needs active 4G support for the initial connection. It still needs several years of development to become a stand-alone system.
The 5th generation mobile network offers key technological features beyond what legacy 4G currently provides (5GPPP 2015).
- Very low latency: less than 1ms.
- Higher data speeds: up to 10 Gbps.
- Significantly higher wireless capacity (mmWave spectrum), allowing massive-device connectivity.
- Reduced energy consumption.
- Unconventional resource virtualization.
- . On-demand service-oriented resource allocation.
- Automated management and orchestration.
5G runs on the same radio frequencies that are currently being used for your smartphone, on Wi-Fi networks, and in satellite communications, but it enables technology to go a lot further. Beyond being able to download a full-length HD movie to your phone in seconds (even from a crowded stadium), 5G is really about connecting things everywhere – reliably, without lag – so people can measure, understand and manage things in real-time. 5G technology has a theoretical peak speed of 20 Gbps, while the peak speed of 4G is only 1 Gbps. 5G also promises lower latency, which can improve the performance of business applications as well as other digital experiences (such as online gaming, videoconferencing, and self-driving cars). While earlier generations of cellular technology (such as 4G LTE) focused on ensuring connectivity, 5G takes connectivity to the next level by delivering connected experiences from the cloud to clients. 5G networks are virtualized and software-driven, and they exploit cloud technologies. The 5G network will also simplify mobility, with seamless open roaming capabilities between cellular and Wi-Fi access. Mobile users can stay connected as they move between outdoor wireless connections and wireless networks inside buildings without user intervention or the need for users to reauthenticate. The new Wi-Fi 6 wireless standard (also known as 802.11ax) shares traits with 5G, including improved performance. Wi-Fi 6 radios can be placed where users need them to provide better geographical coverage and lower cost. Underlying these Wi-Fi 6 radios is a software-based network with advanced automation.
How 5G Works
5G technology will introduce advances throughout network architecture. 5G New Radio, the global standard for a more capable 5G wireless air interface, will cover spectrums not used in 4G. New antennas will incorporate a technology known as massive MIMO (multiple inputs, multiple outputs), which enables multiple transmitters and receivers to transfer more data at the same time. But 5G technology is not limited to the new radio spectrum. It is designed to support a converged, heterogeneous network combining licensed and unlicensed wireless technologies. This will add bandwidth available for users.
5G architectures will be software-defined platforms, in which networking functionality is managed through software rather than hardware. Advancements in virtualization, cloud-based technologies, and IT and business process automation enable 5G architecture to be agile and flexible and to provide anytime, anywhere user access. 5G networks can create software-defined subnetwork constructs known as network slices. These slices enable network administrators to dictate network functionality based on users and devices.
5G also enhances digital experiences through machine-learning (ML)-enabled automation. Demand for response times within fractions of a second (such as those for self-driving cars) requires 5G networks to enlist automation with ML and, eventually, deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Automated provisioning and proactive management of traffic and services will reduce infrastructure costs and enhance the connected experience.
Applications of 5G Technology
Autonomous vehicles are one of the most anticipated 5G applications. Vehicle technology is advancing rapidly to support the autonomous vehicle future. 5G networks will be an enormous enabler for autonomous vehicles, due to the dramatically reduced latency, as vehicles will be able to respond 10-100 times faster than over current cellular networks. The ultimate goal is a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication network. This will enable vehicles to automatically respond to objects and changes around them almost instantaneously. A vehicle must be able to send and receive messages in milliseconds to break or shift directions in response to road signs, hazards, and people crossing the street.
5G IoT in Smart City Infrastructure and Traffic Management
Many cities around the world today are deploying intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and are planning to support connected vehicle technology. Aspects of these systems are relatively easy to install using current communications systems that support smart traffic management to handle vehicle congestion and route emergency vehicles. Connected vehicle technology will enable bidirectional communications from vehicle to vehicle (V2V), and vehicle to infrastructure, (V2X) to promote safety across transportation systems. Smart cities are now installing sensors in every intersection to detect movement and cause connected and autonomous vehicles to react as needed.
5G IoT Applications in Industrial Automation
The key benefits of 5G in the industrial automation space are wireless flexibility, reduced costs, and the viability of applications that are not possible with current wireless technology. With 5G, industrial automation applications can cut the cord and go fully wireless, enabling more efficient smart factories.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
The low latency of 5G will make AR and VR applications both immersive and far more interactive. In industrial applications, for example, a technician wearing 5G AR goggles could see an overlay of a machine that would identify parts, provide repair instructions, or show parts that are not safe to touch. The opportunities for highly responsive industrial applications that support complex tasks will be extensive. In business environments, you can have AR meetings where it appears two people are sitting together in the same room, turning boring phone or 2D video conferences into more interactive 3D gatherings. Sporting events and experiences will likely be some of the top applications for 5G in the consumer space. Anytime you need to react quickly to a stimulus, such as in a sports training application, it must happen with minimal latency.
5G IoT Applications for Drones
Drones have a vast and growing set of use cases today beyond the consumer use for filming and photography. With 5G, however, you will be able to put on goggles to “see” beyond current limits with low latency and high-resolution video. 5G will also extend the reach of controllers beyond a few kilometers or miles. These advances will have implications for use cases in search and rescue, border security, surveillance, drone delivery services, and more.
Advantages of 5G Technology
- Increased speed and bandwidth.
- Greater device density aids mobile e-commerce.
- Improved WAN connections.
- Better battery life for remote IoT devices.
- Enhanced security with hardened endpoints.