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Versatile: 5G is regarded as an enabler for many vertical applications, for example in medical technology.
Versatile: 5G is regarded as an enabler for many vertical applications, for example in medical technology.
( Bild: Clipdealer)

Communication 5G Myths part 1: The All Net

Editor: Jochen Schwab

Flexible, reliable, short latencies: 5G should be the basis for future technologies such as industry 4.0 and new mobility concepts. However, providers advertise 5G as usual: with super-fast surfing speed for end users. This causes confusion. In five articles we disenchant frequent myths about 5G and show what industrial users should pay attention to..

After a partially bumpy start, providers in several countries are working hard to introduce commercial 5G services - for example in the USA, China, South Korea, Japan, and Germany. In the next two years, extensive implementations in other regions are expected to follow. These early 5G networks are initially designed for Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) or Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). They are primarily aimed at end-users and are designed to ensure business continuity for existing LTE networks. Accordingly, the primary value proposition is to improve network capacity and performance through higher bandwidth and low latency.

In its IMT2020 recommendations, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) had stated that 5G should be a powerful, extremely reliable and future-proof network that would enable many different applications in a wide variety of industries. And it does not just address the needs of the consumer market. A contradiction?

No question: Providing a single 5G network that covers all requirements - current and future - is a Herculean task. Whether it can succeed at all is questionable. The situation is difficult: How can 5G be successfully positioned and implemented? Which sectors should the standardization bodies work with? What role will Mobile Service Providers (MSPs) and their technology suppliers play in creating a new business-to-business (B2B) developer ecosystem that focuses on enterprise applications?

Market researcher ABI Research has identified the five most common 5G myths. In a five-part series, we want to disenchant these myths, lift the information mist and provide more insight.

Myth #1: 5G is all about bandwidth and latency

For many technology suppliers and MSPs, it's clear - at least that's what their advertising suggests: 5G is a superior technology because it can achieve much higher data transfer rates than its predecessors including LTE (Long-Term Evolution) - with lower latency at the same time. These two criteria are the focus of marketing.

It is true that 5G mobile networks CAN provide significantly higher bandwidths than those of the previous generation. Response times can also be significantly lower, down to a few milliseconds. However, several prerequisites must be met for this to happen. These include the use of the millimeter-wave spectrum (mmWave), high radio cell density, wide carrier channels and, if possible, free-field conditions. In addition, 5G technology must be installed throughout - from the terminal device to the base station to the core network.

However, the first 5G generation is usually first implemented as an LTE add-on. This "Not Stand-alone" (NSA) architecture uses existing LTE infrastructures and partly LTE functions. For example, communication with mobile masts and servers takes place via 4G, while terminals can use frequencies from the 5G spectra for data transmission. NSA-5G also does not yet address the fast changeover between neighboring mobile radio cells, which is important for dynamic applications - keyword Connected Car. The real achievable performance depends on many other parameters. For example, the user density per radio cell or indoor or outdoor operation. In short: end-users will not be able to use the theoretically possible 5G peak powers for the time being.

Full performance only with NSA-5G

Only with the stand-alone 5G network from 3GPP Release 16 onwards will it be possible to continuously improve the overall performance up to the edge, i.e. the end devices. New mobile radio applications based on "ultra-reliable low-latency communication" (URLLC) will then also be possible. The migration from NSA to SA-5G by the providers should be transparent for the users.

According to ABI Research, technology providers would do well not to reduce 5G to a higher data rate and better latencies than LTE. In the long run, the new wireless standard is a transformation tool capable of supporting flexible implementation scenarios for licensed and unlicensed spectra as well as for public and private networks. Many functions will only be introduced gradually over the next few years.

Ultimately, the aim is to extend the capabilities of macro and micro cells beyond pure connectivity and transform the infrastructure into flexible, "intelligent" data centers. These should be able to provide private consumers and industrial users with individual, smart services. On this basis, companies can develop new business models and market them along the entire value chain. ABI Research recommends that vendors not only focus their strategies and marketing rhetoric on "more bandwidth and shorter latency".

This article was first published in German by Elektronikpraxis.

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