Phones Are Just The Tip Of The 5G Iceberg

5G is not just an incremental upgrade to existing networks, but a radically new approach to communication.

Three tech trends driving 5G

  1. More cells, many types
  2. Although more base stations will need to be installed to compensate for the low range of the higher frequency wavelengths, there are also upsides to small cells.

    One of the biggest benefits is that smaller cells will consume much less power, a clear advantage considering that keeping base stations cool is becoming an unsustainable cost for network providers.

    In addition to requiring more base stations, these base stations will also be heterogeneous in size and range from ‘femto’ to ‘macro’ in scale, allowing them to provide coverage at different scales.

  3. More users per base station
  4. The speed of mobile broadband connections tends to slow down in crowded areas such as concert venues. To allow more users to enjoy high speed internet access at the same time, 5G base stations are upsized with more antennas that can transmit data to different users simultaneously. With massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) technology, 5G base stations can have up to 100 antennas, compared to 12 in a typical 4G base station.

    To avoid unwanted interference between all the signals sent out, massive MIMO base stations are equipped with beam-forming algorithms that automatically calculate and direct radio signals along the best path to reach a user, as opposed to sending it in all directions

  5. Network slicing
  6. 5G networks will be used by both industry and consumers for a wide range of use cases, with each placing a different set of demands on the network.

    While a high data rate is paramount or downloading videos on a smartphone, low latency and high reliability are more important for self-driving cars, as they may need to make split second decisions to avoid collisions.

    With network splicing, a single network running on the same physical infrastructure could be sub-divided into different parts, with each being customized to suit the needs of a specific application.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

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