We live in an overly connected world. Through our phones we stay in touch with our loved ones, our favourite brands and restaurants; we work remotely and keep on top of our daily routines like online shopping, banking, book travel etc.
With 5G technology, we are shifting to an even more connected world where anything and everything is going online- waste bins that provide real time information to the contractors so that collection can be optimised, holoportation will allow fully immersive remote meetings – even while travelling in autonomous vehicles, connected highways that provide real time information on weather alerts, accidents, traffic flows, air quality and feeding information control rooms to improve transport integration. Even remote medical procedures with a specialist operating with zero latency from the other side of the Atlantic.
In this blog post we are going to cover 4 basics concepts that you should know to master any conversation about 5G and to support the position that this is going to be a revolution and a major leap in our lives.
Speed, latency and private networks
Its all about the speed and the interaction between the mobile phone or device and the content stored at the Edge or in the cloud. 5G will provide services with the highest Quality of Service (QoS) attributes, such as ultra-low latency, ultra-reliable communication, high data rates, and high user mobility experience.
5G does indeed mean faster downloads, quicker response times and fewer dropped calls and buffering. It also enables much better capabilities for work related activities that require a consistent and guaranteed service level (something that 4G cannot support) including use-cases such as AVs, robotics, teleoperations, VR and AI.
These enterprise focused capabilities also open the door for so-called private networks, whereby companies install and operated their own cellular networks instead of or alongside their existing WIFI networks to maximise the efficiency, security and standardisation benefits of the new technologies to improve their operations through automation.
Differences between Standalone vs. non standalone
As we transition to a full 5G capability and potential, today we can see two types of 5G connectivity solutions approved by the mobile standards organization 3GPP: 5G NSA (non-standalone) and 5G SA (standalone).
5G NSA is a transition solution working as an enhanced 4G, it uses existing 4G equipment’s (except 5G antennas) and 5G SA is a completely new design and architecture that is predicted to be deployed fully as 5G equipment becomes cheaper and 5G devices become more and more popular.
5G vs. other 4G/3G mobile phones, spectrum band vs. availability
The current 5G mobile phones line-up can be used on 5G and 4G networks, although it is expected that 3G and 4G will be disconnected one day, this won’t happen overnight. Today most high-end phones are 5G ready, and increasingly also mid-range phones too. What isn’t available is FULL 5G that can connect to 5G Standalone or Private networks not provided by the main telcos.
Spectrum availability is one of the major competitive and strategic factors in the 5G space, and in most countries the government auctions the licence to operate across different spectrum bands to the MNO’s. In Spain, this summer was the latest spectrum allocation auction the “700 MHz band” which generated at total value of 1,010 M€ over a 20-year period licence that can be extended up to 20 more. This is the third frequencies auction for 5G networks carried out in Spain, after the auction of the 3.6-3.8 GHz band held in 2018 and the 20 MHz auction of that same band carried out last February 2021.
The reality about the 700 MHz band is that it will only be useful to provide 5G coverage in wider areas and improve indoor coverage. With the 2.300 MHz band, the Government, has decided to reserve radio frequencies for private companies, especially utilities. This will open new business opportunities for companies to contribute and accelerate the building of private networks and possibly also accelerate the full deployment of fully national 5G capable network.
So what about 6G?
As the name states 6G will be the new wireless communication standards to follow 5G and predicted to arrive around year 2030. With speeds of around 1 Tbps and one microsecond-latency communications, the vision for 6G is an even more connected world with different realities (virtual, augmented, and mixed) that will converge in any screen, even if it is connected to a mobile network. One of the fields of application will be holography, which will be transmitted in real time, with high definition and without latency. But 6G is still only being discussed as field of research and development – and won’t be developed until the promises of 5G are fully realised.
So, as we come to an end of this brief overview of 5G and the relevant elements to master any conversation, we hope you now realize about the scale and importance of this new enabling technology and understand what it will bring to our society and economic development.
There is no doubt that 5G will power the next industrial revolution, the remaining questions are:
- Will governments help with their regulations on the expansion and adoption of 5G across the territories and foster deployment and increased competition to connect low-income and low-density rural areas as well as cities and wealthy regions?
- Will MNO’s be willing to share a slice of their pie in order to reduce their traditionally OPEX heavy investments and be open to develop new business models that generate new revenues together with partners – some from non-traditional sectors?
Hopefully we will soon find out!
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