There are many challenges to address when we move towards 5G standard which demands much higher data rate, ultra low latency, high reliability and security. As we know, fourth generation wireless communication technology LTE and LTE advanced has already been deployed all over the world. 5G – the fifth generation wireless technology requires a new standard to support ultra fast, low latency services to customers.
Let’s take a look on major challenges in 5G technology design, development and implementation stages.
5G – Technology Challenges
1. Frequency Bands
Current LTE system operates with more than 50 frequency bands which are below 3.6 GHz range. One of the frequency candidates for early deployment of 5G is sub-6 GHz range. Unlicensed spectrum below 6 GHz (600 MHz and between 3.5 GHz and 6 GHz) will be used for first generation of 5G networks.
5G NR- New Radio standard for 5G networks are set of frequency bands at sub-6 GHz range and millimeter waves of the RF spectrum. Design of hardware at millimeter waves are much complex than low frequency range.
In order to ensure interoperability of devices across different countries and regions, it has to support multi-bands. Addition of more frequency bands increases the device complexity.
Lack of coordination of 5G frequency bands across different regions could cause trouble to mobile device manufactures.
2. Huge Data Volume
As the technology advances, the data volume of each network also increases every year and the trend is growing. Each network has to support huge volume of data since many applications capable of high resolution video calling, live streaming, downloading etc…
The new media trend is towards video standard and there is huge demand for video contents compared to conventional text form. Multimedia gaming, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications needs high speed network for better user experience.
3. MIMO Technology
Complex MIMO antenna arrays will be used to deliver high speed data to individual users. The idea of MIMO is to increase number of transmitting antenna at the base station and mobile device (UE) to maximize the data transfer by simultaneously sending and receiving. MIMO technology requires complex algorithms and device capability at both base station and user equipment.
In order to avoid transmission power wastage, new generation wireless transmission technology will use beamforming method to efficiently transmit data to user devices. Compared to conventional base stations, beamforming technology will locate the user’s location precisely and transmit signals to that direction using sophisticated antenna array system.
Base station’s operating power can be significantly reduced by beamforming concept. However, beamforming is a complex task to locate each devices under a particular cell and it needs high level processing at base stations.
4. Device to Device Communication
D2D communication is new concept to enhance mobile connectivity by using one mobile device as data hub for other devices which can’t access the base station signal. Device to device communication is considered one of the efficient mode of communication during emergency situation (like natural disasters) where connectivity is limited or absent. However, complex data transmission protocols required to implement D2D communication.
5. Ultra low Latency Service
Mission critical applications and self driving cars require ultra low latency services to ensure smooth operation. Any delay could cause unexpected and devastating results in mission critical applications. Latency less than 1 millisecond need to be achieved to satisfy medical applications like remote surgeries.
6. Ultra Reliability Network
Emergency services and application requires highly reliable network to immediately trigger warning during critical situations. Health monitoring devices, remote patient care devices, fire and rescue services, police, and ambulance services etc… requires wireless network to communicate either self activation from devices or initiated by users.
Real-time monitoring of patients (monitoring of blood sugar, blood pressure and pulse rate) with specials needs are increasing and this trend will grow in future. Interaction between patient and medical practitioner is significant in reporting, diagnosis and treatment.
An ultra reliable network is significant for all medical remote monitoring applications.
7. Security and Privacy
Security is one of the most important factors of every wireless transmission system. 5G network has to ensure security and privacy for end users. Since the number of devices connected to network and diversity in technologies, ensuring security is a challenging task. End to end encryption technique are developed to securely communicate between devices and cloud application servers.
8. Smart Automobile
Automobile industry is another driving force behind new technologies like IoT which uses 5G network. New generation cars (vehicles) are equipped with smart infotainment systems (multimedia) with capability to connect with mobile network. In future, smart vehicles will be used as a hub for data transmission to communicate in different modes like vehicle to vehicles, vehicle to infrastructure and other devices. Low latency, ultra reliable network is a core component for autonomous driving.
5G – Infrastructure Requirements
1. Small Cells
Propagation of signals at millimeter wave range requires line of sight transmission path and it is highly vulnerable to distraction from buildings, vehicles and surroundings. 5G technology will be using small cell concept like micro cells or femto cells for transmission. Small cells will be able to deliver high data rate by serving small number of users under each cells.
Huge investment is required to deploy small cells in a large geographical area. Thousands or even millions of small cell deployments are required to cover a big region/country.
Another challenge is to implement new system without affecting existing LTE and LTE advanced network. Enhancement of network is often challenging due to different frequency band which requires another set of antenna systems, MIMO and beamforming capabilities.
2. Internet of Things
Internet of Things is growing faster than predicted, it will contribute billions of devices every year. Analysts estimate that 50 billion smart devices and sensors will be connected to internet by year 2020.
Industries are getting smarter using sophisticated sensor technologies to collect huge amount of data in real-time. Internet of Things helps industries to solve many problems using predictive analysis of data which often described as nest industrial revolution. Machine to machine (M2M) communication protocol is designed to communicate between devices in a network structure to share information and collect data
Internet of Things will work with various wireless technologies for transmission like low power Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LoRa WAN, ZigBee etc… In order to handle multiple technologies, gateways and network should be compatible and powerful enough to handle huge amount of data from millions of devices.
High end encryption algorithms are required to securely transmit data between nodes and the central cloud processing station. More devices and sensors with various wireless standards are coming to market every year. Network scalability is necessary to accommodate huge number of additional devices and technologies in the future.
5G is designed to work with diverse application and the complexity is one of the major challenges to address. Since 5G is a platform for many wireless technologies to co-exist, technology providers has to overcome challenges in terms of signal spectrum, transmission protocols, security and network compatibility etc… Due to huge demand for a smarter network, 5G standard has been evolving faster than expected timeline. However, fully functional 5G network will be available only in 2020 according to analysts.