5G New Radio (NR) refers to the global standard for a unified, more capable 5G air interface with the first iteration appearing in 3GPP Release 15 in late 2017.
The development of the 5G NR was the key to enabling the 5G mobile communications system to work and it provides a number of significant advantages when compared to 4G.
5G NR was developed from scratch taking the requirements and looking at the best technologies and techniques that will be available when 5G starts to be deployed.
5G NR utilizes modulation, waveforms and access technologies that enables the system to meet the needs of high data rate services, those needing low latency and those needing small data rates and long battery lifetimes.
As specified in Release 15, there are several cornerstones to 5G NR such as new radio spectrum. Adding usable spectrum was crucial as mobile communications usage had rapidly increased before 5G. The introduction of 5G would have just added to the overcrowding of radio frequency spectrum had new radio spectrum for carrier use not been made available.
Release 15 also outlined several groups of new spectrum specifically for NR deployments. These range in frequency from 2.5 GHz to 40 GHz. Two bands being targeted for more immediate deployment are in the regions of 3.3 GHz to 3.8 GHz and 4.4 GHz to 5.0 GHz.
The advantage of the higher frequency bands is that they are much wider and able to allow much higher signal bandwidths and hence support much higher data throughput rates. The disadvantage in some aspects is that they have a much shorter range, but you could argue this is an advantage because it also allows much greater frequency reuse.
Another 5G NR cornerstone is Optimized OFDM. An early decision was made to use a form of OFDM as the waveform for phase one of the 5G New Radio. It had been very successfully used with 4G, the more recent Wi-Fi standards and many other systems and came out as the optimum type of waveform for the variety of different applications for 5G. With the additional processing power available for 5G, various forms of optimization can be applied.
The specific version of OFDM used in 5G NR downlink is cyclic prefix OFDM, CP-OFDM – the same waveform LTE has adopted for the downlink signal.
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