From Evolution to Revolution
To fully understand the vision of the 5G network, the previous development of the mobile internet must be understood. The GSM network (2G) was originally used for calling and data transmission in the 900 MHz range. When UMTS (2G) established itself as a data network in the 2100 MHz range, 2G was increasingly degraded to a pure telephone and SMS network. With LTE and LTE Advanced (4G), this development has been consistently driven forward.
Technically, however, the wheel has not been reinvented in recent years, but existing technologies have been pushed further and further along the path from 2G to 4G. Improved modulation methods enabled, for example, the massive performance improvements from UMTS to HSPA+. Carrier Aggregation (LTE Advanced) was another big step forward – but here, too, basically “only” the technology used was further exploited.
However, the planned 5G technology goes beyond the scope of the previously established mobile radio and is therefore – at least in theory regarded as a real revolution. The demands placed on hardware and Software, both in terms of networks, peripheral equipment, and end devices, will bring fundamental changes to entire industries.
However, there are also critical voices, according to which the 5G Standard means above all, a revolution for the business of the corporations, and the real benefit for the general population is very limited – if there is any surplus value at all. These positions have also been carefully examined for you.
The Definition of the 5G Standard & the Perspectives
5G is the new Generation in mobile communications. It creates the basis for new customer experiences such as Augmented Reality games or the networking of machines in industry and smart devices. In addition, technology supports the digitalization of many areas of life.
On the one hand, this is a new development stage in mobile communications. Above all, it will revolutionize mobile data transmission through larger capacities within a mobile cell. However, the innovation of 5G is not only that people will be able to use mobile data even better in the future. The 5G network offers us many other possibilities.
What should the 5G Network look like?
5G is about much more than just the communication of mobile phones, Tablets, and Notebooks. 5G is the next step in the development of comprehensive mobile communication. The goal is a fully networked, international society. 5G is designed to help realize the vision of unlimited access to information and the sharing of data anywhere and at any time.
The main focus here is on the connectivity and communication between machines and devices. All possible components of our daily lives should be connected via sensors and actuators. Thoughts about intelligent houses, increasing road safety, and controlling critical infrastructures are at the top of the list of “visionaries”.
Myths around 5G causes Misunderstandings
Several misconceptions have been fixed in the minds of the population by lurid formulations of politicians and media representatives. For example, 5G will not result in better network coverage – at least not directly. As part of the 5G frequency allocation, the network operators are committed to further expanding the 4G network (LTE), which will certainly have an impact on network coverage. However, 5G will not be available everywhere. According to this, the vast majority of people will not receive a faster Internet in the form of 5G in the foreseeable future. In metropolitan areas and a few rural regions, 5G will enable enormous speeds if appropriate terminals and the necessary tariffs are available. But it all takes quite a while.
New Frequencies are required for 5G
Despite the Revolutionary dimensions of 5G, the new mobile radio systems will not consist exclusively of a system yet to be developed. Rather, it is built on the existing and yet-to-be-perfected LTE (4G). Thus, the LTE operation on the existing frequencies up to 6 GHz is continued. The major innovations will take place above 6 GHz.
The transmission capacity is much higher at frequencies beyond 6 GHz. However, the future 5G network must be much more closely meshed than today’s networks. At such high frequencies, every small obstacle leads to the termination of the transmission. The challenges for the network operators are therefore very high – both technically and financially!
The challenge lies not only in the high frequency but also in an unimaginable number of connected devices. Billions of wirelessly connected sensors, actuators, and other elements are expected. These machine parts will have only limited ways to bridge and will not have a significant impact on Traffic, but all must be linked in the networks. These areas are called Capillary Networks.
Mobile Transmission in Real Time
Fractions of seconds can decide on life and death during surgical interventions by robots and within a few moments the situation in road traffic changes. For the dream of self-driving cars, autonomous flying machines, and operations via computer control to become reality at some point, the latency times (reaction times) must be significantly reduced. The declared goal is less than one millisecond.
Despite tight networks, the data flow should become slimmer. Among other things, the improvement of Internet and transmission protocols should contribute to this. Important parts of this are the switch to IPV6, 6LoWPAN, and new protocols such as 802.15.4
The use of multiple transmitters and receivers (MIMO) is already being used in LTE. More precisely, this means the reception and transmission over several frequency ranges and thus over several antennas. While LTE transmissions in the 800 MHz range use of several antennas is still uncritical, at 1800 MHz LTE Advanced MIMO antennas are urgently needed.
Today’s LTE systems still use 2×2 MIMO technology. With WLAN antennas, as part of the signal chain, you can already find 4×4 MIMO antennas.
For stable high data rates, data streams must also be bundled in the future. From today’s point of view, there is no other solution. So, anyone who already relies on broadband antennas today is already well prepared for the next developments.
Very Slim Design
5G’s mobile transmission methods are to be simplified and purged. This involves in Detail the simplification of the structure for synchronizations, network acquisition, and Channel estimates. Theses such as “all parts of the network must work together in a more simplified way.” always sound great, but will certainly cause companies many more problems.
Separation of User data and control data
The user data should be decoupled from the controller in the future. When the 5G user has been authorized and all system information has been exchanged, it is transferred to another level and can directly access the desired data. This involves working with several “layers”. Looking at the separation of data in connection with the optimization of the network structure itself, it quickly becomes clear that the latency time can be significantly reduced as a result.
Flexible Frequency band used in all directions
Actuators and sensors that are supposed to operate in the upper frequencies around 10 GHz have only limited radio ranges or constantly change the location (e.g. cars). Therefore, operators should use these radio links independently of the respective frequency band in the future. Since a high installation density (several billion devices) is expected, if all interact dynamically and flexibly with each other, an extremely stable network with minimal reaction time can be created. The same applies to the duplex arrangements. Dynamization is also sought under network nodes and cells. Increased data recording should be captured in this way – and more effectively than ever before!
Direct devices, Communication & New Markets
Devices, vehicles, machines & Co. Should be able to communicate directly with each other at 5G. The “Device-to-Device Communication” is not regarded and constructed as a single solution, but always as part of the entire network.
At the latest here it becomes clear with what hard bandages will be fought in the markets emerging from 5G. Countless innovations, processes, protocols, and programs have to be developed – not to mention the Hardware. However, it can be assumed that the largest pieces of the cake are already divided. For small, highly specialized companies, however, there are certainly still some opportunities in the coming months and years.
Access / Backhaul Integration
To come approximately within reach of the planned targets, a completely different network architecture is required for 5G. The mobile towers must finally be connected to the core network with fiber optic cables. Directional radio links should only be used in exceptional situations or in the narrowest of spaces to supply gaps.
Companies Driving 5G Development
In addition to their roles in the relevant committees, companies such as Huawei, Nokia, and Ericsson are constantly driving the development of mobile communications technology on their own. A competitive advantage in the development of 5G Hardware and Software could be crucial for the success of many companies over the next 10 years. The companies are correspondingly committed.
Huawei Leader in 5G Research
The Chinese company Huawei is the undisputed leader in 5G development. Research and development have been carried out at many locations for years. The first devices are already in the planning stage. A working 5G net has already been tested at the Winter Olympics.
The procedures initiated and the media attention of the past months are all the more bitter. Huawei has been accused in many places of “financial fraud, theft of trade secrets, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and violations of sanctions.” In addition, the espionage accusations hurt the Chinese group enormously, and the USA – the driving force behind almost all accusations – called on all allied states and companies to leave Huawei outside in future orders.
Radiation & Health: Is 5G harmful?
The short answer is: yes! However, we do not know with certainty how harmful – 5G has simply not been sufficiently investigated. Due to this fact, the cities of Brussels and Geneva have also stopped the already planned 5G pilot projects.
However, if one does not want to spread hysteria for no reason and does not pursue a political Agenda, one should take a closer look and differentiate accordingly. The sub-harmful countries of the EU have defined different limit values and no decision-maker knows more than you or US. Frighteningly, even the opposite seems to be the case. Thus, risks and possibilities are weighed against each other, although a valid database is not yet available – these are purely intuitive decisions.
To clarify: Some part of the world has been working enormously to control the health hazard that 5G might cause. For instance, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection has defined limit values of 39 to 61 V/m (volts per Meter) for mobile phone transmission systems in Germany. Brussels had first raised its own very low emission standards from 6 V/m to 14.5 V/M for the introduction of the 5G technology. In addition, the possibility of a further increase to 41.5 V/m was envisaged.
Resolution: It depends!
Most countries are guided by the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICNIRP) – which, however, cannot say with certainty which health risk exists under which conditions. Switzerland and Belgium are on average around a factor of 10 below these recommendations. Due to the lack of long-term studies, this can now be described as either very responsible and reasonable or just as over-cautious and disproportionate.
The bottom line is this: Shortly 5G frequencies will be used in the same range as currently for LTE (800 MHz to 2600 MHz) and WLAN (2.4 GHz to 5.8 GHz). The proponents ‘ thesis: for this purpose, studies have been carried out over and over again for years and the longer these last without a significant increase in diseases can be detected, the less likely a general health risk is.
But No. 1: Critics have been saying for more than 10 years that the significant increase in diseases and a correlation with the increasing radiation exposure have been proven. At this point at the latest, even for the inclined reader, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish the studies and results as well as their interpretations.
But No. 2: In September 2018, 180 doctors from 36 countries issued an open letter calling for a 5G Moratorium, as the health effects of 5G have not yet been conclusively clarified. For some time now, doctors and researchers seem to have been raising the suspicion that there are so-called “electrosensitive” people who suffer from a “microwave syndrome”. These people are if they are permanently exposed to radiation, more susceptible to migraines, pain, or depression.
At this point at the latest, however, even the greatest technology lovers should be able to muster a minimum of understanding for the skeptics. At least we can understand the decisions in Brussels and Geneva. Nevertheless, we find ourselves here in a historical field of tension. The 5G technology offers such enormous possibilities in the long term that the networks will come – there can be no doubt about that. But how, to what extent, and at what price this happens depends on our politicians. We can therefore only hope for sufficient empirical data from studies and the necessary expertise as well as the corresponding sensitivity among decision-makers. It remains exciting.
Do we need 5G at all?
The question of the real added value for the population certainly has its right to exist. As always with such complex questions, every conscientious answer must take into account all important perspectives accordingly:
The Scissors between City & Country
5G requires considerably more transmitters/receivers in the area, so you can say without further ado: that 5G will primarily only be available in cities. Several operators have been strictly refusing to vigorously push ahead with the expansion of the existing mobile networks (4G) in rural regions – the expansion is not economically interesting enough. This will not change with 5G. So, if companies want to use the advertised possibilities of the 5G network, they will probably have to buy the Hardware for a local cell (antennas, amplifiers, etc.) completely on their own and even then, it is not said that the reception is sufficiently good enough.
In cities, on the other hand, enormous data rates with low latency will be available, which at first sounds excellent. The speeds that network operators currently envisage with the new 5G tariffs can also be reached with LTE Advanced. So, the question arises where the real added value for the population lies.
Health vs. Profit Maximization
If one now includes the above-mentioned field of tension about radiation exposure, various question marks and a lot of uncertainty remain. All that can be said with certainty is that the growth of the corporations is assured. Unfortunately, it is currently not clear whether 5G will lead us into a digitally even better-networked future and at what price.
The Possible Future of the Mobile Internet – thanks to 5G
With 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), dreams of humanity are to become reality. With the planned Revolution, many billions of objects are to be networked with each other in just a few years, vehicles are to drive independently and a cinema film is to be available in seconds on the mobile phone. The mobile Internet of the 5th Generation therefore probably intervenes in all areas of our lives.
From today’s point of view, however, these sentences sound – to put it mildly – very adventurous. Just a few years ago, we celebrated data transmission with UMTS and HSPA+. LTE has finally brought workable internet access to many rural households and businesses, and in major cities, LTE Advanced is finally becoming a reality step by step.
LTE Advanced now works with a theoretically maximum achievable 300-1000 Mbps. 5G should work with 10 Gbps in the future. The development must, of course, proceed gradually. With the delays of the last two years alone in mind, we probably have to wait a while before our fridge automatically orders new food on demand and the self-driving truck delivers the food after 2 hours.
Skepticism towards the goals set
5G will come – there is no doubt about that. As a thoroughbred technicians, we are also convinced that the future of humanity will be significantly influenced by the mobile Internet. Nevertheless, we have to make it clear from our years of experience that it will not be available to everyone and that it will not be cheap!
In addition, the health risks cannot be reliably estimated. The positions between authorities, committees, and scientists diverge too far. We also do not see ourselves in a position to make a reliable forecast for this and it remains to be feared that the legislators have much less overview.
Even if the technical standards and developments of Hardware manufacturers such as Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia meet all requirements, network operators’ structures need to be massively expanded – and this seems to us to be the most important bottleneck.
So, you have to be able to afford 5G – if available – first. This applies to the tariffs with which the operators have to recoup their investment costs, for the supply at home, in the office,e or the production hall. In this context, the world will nevertheless be wrapped in a completely new garment by 5G.
The plans are forged, and the visions are formulated. In the next few years, the development of wireless technology and mobile communication will progress rapidly. By relying on broadband devices today, one can already prepare for this development.
The next steps of 50 Mbps over 150 Mbps up to 300 Mbps are already being taken, parallel up to 1 Gbps are coming within reach and the “Device-to-Device Communication” will fundamentally change the modern world.