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5G broadband impacts everyone – regardless of engineering acumen.

That’s why it’s a good idea for non-technical professionals to also have a solid understanding of how 5G operates and what it can do, especially now with the official 5G rollout underway.

One of the most important things to understand about 5G is why this new broadband is necessary. The previous newest generation of mobile connectivity, 4G, started to make waves in the late 2000s. 4G made mobile internet speeds up to 500 times faster than 3G and allowed support for HD TV on mobile, high–quality video calls, and fast mobile browsing. The development of 4G was a massive feat for mobile technology, especially for the evolution of smartphones and tablets.

But in a way, the success of 4G also led to its demise. 4G broadband was generally confined to the use of radio frequencies (RF) in the 2 to 6GHz range – radio wavelengths that have good penetration and cover large distances but are slow, which limits data transfer. Still, 4G was definitely an improvement over 3G and 2G. In fact, it was such an improvement that cellphone users piled on to such an extent that the 4G frequency band became over crowded.

The solution to accommodate more users as well as facilitate other technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity and smart technology, was to move broadband networks into a relatively unused high frequency range of millimeter waves (mmW) – fast wavelengths  (between 30 and 300GHz) capable of delivering data 100 times more rapidly than 4G.

Before 5G, only operators of satellites and radar systems used millimeter waves for real-world applications.

However, in order for 5G to be useable for mobile connectivity, the mobile broadband infrastructure had to more or less be replaced. This due to the fact that while millimeter waves are fast and provide greater stability (latency), they also have limited range and tend to deflect off objects rather than penetrate.

The telecommunications industry has been working on this issue for several years – a necessity before 5G could be made available publicly.

One solution has been the coordinated use of MIMO ((multiple input, multiple output) antennas and beamforming.

MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) is an antenna technology for wireless communications in which multiple antennas are used at both the source (transmitter) and the destination (receiver). The antennas at each end of the communications circuit are combined to minimize errors and optimize data speed.

The goal of beamforming and companion technology beam steering is to transmit directly to a user and, in some cases, extend the range of RF transmissions.

5G also comes with an impressive list of standards developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a coalition of telecommunications organizations that create technical standards for wireless technology. These standards, referred to as 5G NR (New Radio) are intended to support the growth of wireless communication by enhancing electromagnetic radiation spectrum efficiency. Included in the standards for 5G broadband:

  • It must implement a lean signaling design. This means signals are only switched on when needed, lowering overall processing power.
  • It must provide connectivity for the internet of things (IoT), a concept that includes all of the various devices and wired or wireless connections that make up a user’s digital experience.
  • Enforces strict data transmission requirements. By forcing all users and connections to respect specific rules, the entire network is faster and more efficient.
  • Improved beamforming that allows signals to be propagated to a larger set of end points.
  • Must use adaptive bandwidth, which allows devices to switch to a low-bandwidth and lower power whenever possible, saving energy for when higher bandwidths are necessary.

Want to learn more? Consider our 5G for Non-Engineers course designed with the non-technical professional in mind. This 2-day class gives an overview of the 5G end-to-end network, its capabilities and deployment scenarios. It helps network leaders prepare for deployment of 5G so they can guide their teams for effective network planning, 

For more information, questions, comments, contact us

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