We have been waiting for a magical network that can support massive data rates and low latency to satisfy every needs from mobile devices to self-driving smart cars. Even though the 4th generation mobile wireless network LTE/4G hasn’t been covered around the globe, test runs and spectrum allocation for 5G has been started a few years ago.
5G is the fifth generation wireless communication network that will be ruling our future communication. 5G networks must be equipped to handle massive data rates and scalable and secure communication. What are the top network terminologies used to make 5G a reality?
1. Millimeter waves
We have been using almost complete radio frequency spectrum below the 6 GHz range today. An increasing number of devices with massive traffic requirements will limit our existing network capability soon. Increasing demand for spectrum to support future enhancements led us to utilize spectrum above 6 GHz.
Researchers successfully tested millimeter wave broadcasting at 73 GHz range over more than 10 KM range in Virginia a few months ago. Similar tests have been carried out at the 28 GHz range in New York City at a shorter distance of 200 meters with a low-power transmitter.
Millimeter wave offers a wide range of spectrum without any restriction of our conventional low-frequency bands. FCC has opened another 11 GHz band for further development of the 5G network and research.
2. Small Cells
The increased number of transmitting devices generates distortion for other neighboring devices. Small Cell concept is another terminology to support uninterrupted network coverage where signals are blocked by many obstacles like buildings, trees, vehicles or heavy machinery. It is one of the most suitable implementations for cities due to the density of buildings and other terrain.
In small cell concepts, more transmitters handle the entire traffic load within a geographical area than a single transceiver. It enables the network operators to deliver quality network coverage, higher data rates, and uninterrupted service.
Mobile devices will automatically detect the signals and switch from one cell to another without interruption. Since small cell stations cover a small geographical area, it uses low-power transmitting stations.
3. Massive MIMO
Massive MIMO is a transmission terminology for increasing the network capacity by adding more transmitting and receiving antennas to the system. MIMO stands for multiple input and multiple output. MIMO enables us to transmit and receive signals simultaneously through multiple antennas. It will offer many times higher data rates and network capacity.
One downside of MIMO is higher distortion caused by intermodulation due to increased signal transmission from the same station.
Beamforming is a technique used in base stations to target mobile devices for transmission. Conventional base stations will transmit signals in all directions, which contributes to distortion in other devices and some other operating bands.
In beamforming, the base station will be able to detect and locate the user, and it will only transmit in the direction of the user. Beamforming will help the network to support more devices and traffic with targeted transmission for specific users located in specific directions.
5. Full Duplex
In our early generation of mobile networks, the device will not receive any signals while transmitting and vice versa. In a conventional system, only one mode will be active at a time because the system operates on only one allocated band. Otherwise, two bands have to be allocated to transmit and receive simultaneously.
In full duplex mode, the network will use a high-speed switching system to handle simultaneous transmission with complex modulation techniques. It will help service providers to utilize expensive spectrum efficiently.
5G opens a world of possibilities in terms of wider spectrum, speed, low latency, scalability, and security. There are many other suggested technology enhancements for further development and implementation, like device-to-device communication and Wi-Fi offloading. 5G will play a big role in the future mobile networks and especially the Internet of Things.
More reading: How 5G technology works
References: IEEE Spectrum, 3GPP, Rohde & Schwarz, Ericsson.