Q: Inevitably, the 5G network will have some bugs and kinks that need to be worked out when it’s first deployed. What issues do you anticipate the network will initially face?
By Ronan Kelly, CTO EMEA & APAC, ADTRAN; president, FTTH Council Europe
As with all previous generations of cellular deployments, early caution resulted in a subsequent scramble to address greater than anticipated demand. As 5G networks proliferate throughout the world, consumer electronics manufacturers, automotive companies, and application developers will all take advantage of the network’s new capabilities—higher capacities, lower latencies, and greater densities of connected devices. They will uncover pressing needs that we did not know we had, just like our need for smartphones was not apparent back in the 1990s.
When this happens, the 5G networks will have to mobilize quickly in order to satisfy the demands of the users. The scramble that we saw with 2G, 3G, and 4G for coverage and for backhaul capacity, will occur once again, only this time the challenge will be greater. Many of the use cases that will take advantage of 5G networks will need to be serviced from small cells in close proximity to the end users. Significant cell densification and fiber-based backhaul densification will be required.
If this densification demands a completely new overlay fiber infrastructure, rather than using the substantial FTTH network assets already deployed, the 5G MNOs need to seek road closures and tie up valuable capital reserves—re-digging fiber trenches that already exist.
5G networks will be better equipped to deal with the scramble for ubiquity of experience if they take advantage of the FTTH infrastructures that already exist.
Faster deployments will accelerate market adoption, while reuse of fiber assets will ensure the working capital is preserved for building a RAN environment that can cope with the demand when it comes, and despite the naysayers, it will come.
By Jean Louis Mendes, business development manager, Molex; and Roger Kauffman, director product management and marketing, Molex
We anticipate that initially all system operators will need to ensure their network connections are optimized to many types of connected devices to obtain the most efficient integrated 5G network.
In previous generations, system operators were optimizing the network connection by selecting the specific frequency bands (800/900/1800/1900/2100 MHz) and standard (GSM, WCDMA, LTE). However, all the connections were designed to be mobile-to-network compatible only. As the industry moves to 5G, the successful transition of the existing wireless network, hardware technology, and network architecture will need to be updated to manage the integration of all new activity.
The next big challenge will be to seamlessly bring together all the new uses cases emerging for consumers, enterprises, and industries like mobile, machine, vehicle, home, etc., over the umbrella of 5G categories such as Enhanced Mobile Broadband (EMBB), Ultra-reliable & Low Latency (URLL), and Massive Machine Type Communication (MMTC).
To improve the new businesses integration, new frequency bands (3.5 GHz and 28 GHz) and new standards (5G, LTE-M, NB-IoT, and C-V2x) will be added to make 5G performance possible. The system operator cannot use the same network connection for all the devices and their functionality, and thus will be forced to create new network device interfaces called network slicing.
Network slicing will play an important role here to enable 5G functionality for a multitude of these use cases. With the creation of virtual networks atop shared physical infrastructure, it will maximize the flexibility needed to meet the network requirements in terms of functionality, and their performance for the different use cases.
The orchestration of all those wireless network parameters (frequency, standard, and interface method) will be some of the evolving challenges the system operator will be faced with as 5G moves into the next generation of wireless technology.
By Maryam Rofougaran, co-CEO and COO, Movandi
5G promises to offer data rates that are 100 times faster and operating at frequencies 10 times higher than 4G. Enabling a new range of applications, and connections to an exponentially increasing number of wireless devices for IoT we expect to have evolving challenges as the ecosystems evolve. With 5G trials underway and deployments quickly approaching, the wireless industry is searching now for innovative radio solutions that mitigate challenges of 5G’s high frequency spectrum millimeter wave (mmWave) networks.
Operating in the mmWave band presents three unique technical challenges versus traditional connectivity and cellular systems. First, traditional approaches to RF design break down, requiring new and innovative architectures to achieve high performance in low cost bulk CMOS foundries. Second, higher frequencies have greater transmission losses caused by distance, blockage, and non-line-of-sight conditions, depending on the environment and the application. Finally, to achieve longer range and coverage, beamforming antennas are often required.
By Piyush Sevalia, executive vice president, marketing, SiTime
5G is a critical element of the new data economy. In the next few years, 5G will fundamentally transform our lives, enabling a smarter and more connected society. From smart cities and intelligent wind farms, to agriculture and hospitals, the IoT and connected infrastructures will generate zettabytes of data from an estimated 50 billion devices—more than there are people on Earth.
To realize this transformation, networks must become faster, more agile, and much denser, utilizing more equipment. Accordingly, the wireless radio-to-radio accuracy of 5G handsets must be within 130 ns, or about 20 times faster than current 4G LTE systems and handsets. Delivering such vast amounts of data at much faster speeds will require the network to be more tightly synchronized than it is with 4G.
Systems will also be deployed closer to connected devices and in uncontrolled locations such as on streetlamps, traffic lights, rooftops, stadiums, and parking garages. In these settings, 5G devices will be subject to environmental stressors such as vibration, high temperature, thermal shock, and unpredictable airflow. If these stressors are not properly accounted for, and in many cases this will be difficult, they can disrupt the timing signal and result in network reliability issues, lower data throughput, and even connectivity drops.
These environmental stressors combined with the increased speed and accuracy of radio-to-radio for 5G will create new, complex, and very high-performance requirements for precise timing and frequency synchronization, which will necessitate novel implementations. MEMS timing solutions have proven to offer up to 30 times higher dynamic performance, 20 times better vibration resistance, and 30 times better reliability—all in the presence of such stressors. New and more robust synchronization solutions will be essential for the successful deployment of 5G.