Fifth Generation or 5G is a mobile technology which will be introduced in the year 2020. This is the latest mobile access technology after 4G systems. Historically, it has been found that in every 10 years a new mobile network technology is launched. The first generation (1G) system, namely AMPS was introduced during 1980s in USA. The second generation (2G) i.e., GSM was deployed during 1990s followed by CDMA, another 2G system. The third generation (3G) was first introduced in the year 2000 in the form of UMTS & CDMA 2000 and was widely accepted around the world for fast (2 Mbps) internet download and multimedia applications. The next upgrade, the fourth generation (4G), characterized by superfast data access (100 Mbps) was first introduced during the year 2010 and quickly became synonymous with superfast video streaming as well as social media applications. Fifth generation (5G) is slated to be launched in the year 2020 and is expected to deliver data speed as high as 10 Gbps (download speed) and 1 Gbps (upload speed).
5G technology will be characterized by various advanced features such as low latency (i.e., low network delay), high spectral efficiency (maximum usage of frequency spectrum), better connectivity (a large number of mobile devices could be connected with 99.9% availability and reliability) and high energy efficiency (lower battery consumption). Support of IPV6 addressing system will be provided whereby each mobile device will be allotted a unique IP address so that they can independently connect to wireless internet thus resulting to a Wireless World Wide Web (WWWW). These features, along with superfast data rate of the order of 10 Gbps will empower mobile devices to perform a range of advanced mobile computing, gaming, multimedia and mobile commerce applications which will revolutionize mobile usage across the globe. It is expected that 5G systems will be able to reduce various present day network problems such as call drop, unavailability of network, connectivity issues, frequent battery drainage problem and high data connectivity charge.
5G will offer 10 -20 Gbps data download speed and at the same time will offer high spectral efficiency by utilizing unused parts of frequency spectrum. Also rate of call drop will be much reduced in 5G. 5G will offer high network capacity by accommodating large number of mobile devices at the same time. Major 5G technologies are described below:
- MIMO/Massive MIMO: Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) is an advanced antenna technique where instead of using one sending and one receiving antenna, 2 to 4 numbers of sending and receiving antennas are used. Signals coming from all the antennas are then combined to get final data. As a result data errors caused by signal fading are minimized and more data could be packed in the data channel. Massive MIMO employs dozens of sending and receiving antennas in order to improve the data quality and further increase the amount of data packed in the same amount of frequency spectrum. It increases the spectral efficiency of the channel by utilizing unused part of frequency spectrum.
- Long Range (LoRa): Long Range or LoRa is a wireless communication technology that offers low cost point-to-point network connectivity which provides better security and wider coverage area as compared to existing mobile networks. Using LoRa, 5G networks will be able to provide faster and secured data access over a wide area to cover a large number of subscribers.
- mmWave: Millimeter Wave (mmWave) has the frequency spectrum between 30 GHz to 300 GHz. 3G & 4G systems use Radio waves having frequency band between 100 MHz to 200 MHz. For 5G systems, much higher frequency band such as 50 GHz will be used which will be in the mmWave range. The advantage of using higher frequency range is it offers much higher bandwidth (1 – 2 GHz), which can accommodate larger amount of data in the same channel, thus improving channel capacity.
- OFDM: Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing is a technique which is used to reduce interference between various user data which are packed in a data channel for transmission. It can accommodate large number of user data without any significant interference, hence increasing channel capacity and at the same time improving data reliability.
- New Radio (NR): 5G New Radio or 5G NR is the term used to describe the 5G communication systems consisting of waveforms, modulation and access technologies that will help achieving 5G data standards such as high data rate, low latency, high spectral efficiency and low power consumption. In order to achieve 5G standards, mmWaves (Millimeter Waves) will be used instead of radio waves, hence the name New Radio. New radio will be characterized by Massive MIMO, OFDM & mmWave communication and will be able to offer super-fast data rates (10 Gbps or more) to a large number of mobile users at much lower cost and lower power consumption.
Applications of 5G
Apart from normal mobile applications such as high speed video/audio streaming, mobile gaming, mobile social media or various m-commerce applications, 5G mobile technology will find extensive application in various futuristic systems such as Internet of Things (IOT), cellular drone communication or autonomous cars. As 5G systems offer superfast data access rate and at the same time it can connect to a large number of data channels using a relatively small frequency spectrum, it will be ideal for IOT applications. In IOT, millions of minute sensors collect environmental data such as temperature, pressure, photo, amount of rainfall etc. and send it instantly to remote servers via wireless networks. 5G technology will allow sensor data to be collected and sent via wireless networks to remote servers for instant processing and action. Similarly, in cellular drone communication where unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e., drones) will be used for delivery and transport of users/goods to remote/difficult areas, cellular connectivity through high speed 5G mobile networks will be a key enabler. The success of cellular drone communication systems will largely depend on the reliability, security and seamless mobility of the cellular mobile network through which they will communicate with each other and the operators. 5G systems with ubiquitous presence, high security and low latency will be ideal for such applications. In autonomous vehicle applications where driver-less vehicles will communicate with other vehicles, pedestrian mobile devices, roadside mobile stations etc., and move around automatically across the busy city roads, a faultless and reliable mobile communication system will be necessary. 5G mobile technology will allow seamless, low latency mobile communication for autonomous cars of the future.
Challenges of 5G
5G mobile technology is not free of challenges. The major challenge will be faced during standardization of various network infrastructures and communication protocols such as 3GPP. Without proper standardization it will be difficult to achieve seamless communication across various geographic regions as well as technological platforms. Another problem will arise due to interference between various data channels packed in the same frequency band. Although use of OFDM technology will reduce the chance of inter-channel interference, a finite amount of interference may be present which will affect data quality. Also there will be issues related to privacy & security of user data as a large number of users will try to fast download huge amount of personal data and consequently protecting the privacy of user data will be a big technological challenge.
The worldwide deployment of 5G mobile services will start from the year 2020. However, intense research is already in progress across the world for rapid deployment of 5G data services as early as 2019. In countries like US, UK, Sweden, Norway, Japan etc., all major telecom companies are working together to launch 5G services before the stipulated date, i.e., 2020. In India, Reliance Jio, in collaboration with Apple, Idea Cellular and under the supervision of the Indian telecom watchdog TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is working together to develop the desired networking infrastructure in order to launch 5G services in the year 2020. Bharti Airtel, another Indian telecom giant, has a joint collaboration with Swedish telecom company Ericsson to deploy 5G in India during the year 2020. Apart from these, GSMA association is also collaborating with Indian telecom industries to prepare the timeline for launching 5G service in India as early as possible.
According to TRAI, in Indian telecom space, the frequency band 3.3 GHz to 3.4 GHz and 3.4 GHz to 3.6GHz will be most suitable for launching 5G service.