5G is a complicated technology.
In fact, some would argue that 5G is actually an assemblage of technologies. Yet, 5G is poised to become one of the world’s most important and transformative technologies. This is why it’s critical for engineers, manufacturers, software developers and anyone involved in wireless networking to understand the ins and outs of 5G immediately.
A simplified overview of 5G technology goes something like this: Unlike previous mobile networking technologies, 5G broadband enables the use of very high frequencies called millimeter waves (mmW). The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength. Shorter wavelengths enable faster speeds and lower latency.
The problem is how to deliver these shorter, higher frequency wavelengths. Millimeter waves don’t travel as far as slower wavelengths and the signal has a harder time penetrating through materials such as trees and walls.
The short-term solution appears to be creating a vastly different infrastructure of more towers called small cells in order to cover the same area.
A small cell in a 5G network is the base station that serves a critical role in the overall network. They’re called “small cells” as opposed to “macrocells” used in 4G networks because they’re relatively smaller in size.
Since 5G towers don’t require much power, they can be made relatively small. This is important not only for aesthetics but also for space efficiency — small cells support high frequency millimeter waves.
A 5G cell tower is basically just a small pizza-size radio box and can be mounted on a tower or light post, or attached to buildings and other common objects. (However, some carriers are burying antennas under manhole covers to extend their mobile network through the streets).
Inside a small cell is radio equipment necessary for transmitting data to and from connected devices.
The antennas within the small cell are highly directional and use what’s called beamforming to direct attention to very specific areas around the tower. Beamforming is how providers compensate for millimeter waves reflecting off solid objects rather than going through them to the end user.
These devices can also quickly adjust power usage based on the current load. This means when a radio is not in use, it will drop down into a lower power state in just a few milliseconds, and then re-adjust just as quickly when more power is needed.
Of course, there is much more to learn. If you or your organization need to learn about 5G quickly, consider enrolling in the 5G Wireless Crash Course by Tonex. This intense 4-day class covers all aspects of 5G wireless vision, concepts, application, use cases, technologies and standards.
For more information, questions, comments, contact us.