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The Reality of 5G – Update

Part 1

On Tuesday 19th November our instructor John Carter attended the latest 5G seminar held in BT centre London and hosted by the ITP. 5G is the newest generation of wireless network to hit the market and it has caused quite a stir. Topics on discussion were the new architecture, issues around latency and how the industry is going to drive the latency requirements for certain applications, whilst minimising the roadblocks of network conditions. Other areas of discussion were how Cyber Security is becoming a very big hurdle in a 5G New Radio environment, as well as considerations around full virtualisation. An interesting side topic was how connectivity is driving prices in the property market.

This is just a taster as John will write a more detailed summary of the event for publication tomorrow Thursday 21st November so look out for it!

Here is John’s detailed summary of the event.

On Wednesday 19th Nov, the Telecoms industry gathered in London at the BT centre to discuss ‘The Reality of 5G’. There were key speakers from OFCOM, Cisco, BT, Cluttons and Nokia. Each speaker focussed on a different industry angle and discussed a range of topics that people were keen to have answered.

The truth with 5G is that this is the next big technology revolution. 5G is stepping away from focussing on Cellular based connections and throughput, and becoming a means to connect EVERYTHING, rather than EVERYONE. 5G is driven by ‘things’ and their connectivity.

OFCOM discussed the frequency bands in use for 5G and how the different use cases drive the frequency selections. We already knew that the main bands were 700Mhz (mainly for IoT, low power and long distance), 3.5Ghz band (for Cellular) and 26GHz band (mMWave applications). At the WRC 2019 new spectrum such as 66-71GHz was offered for purchase, so the industry is really taking on the challenge of mMWave and the unique challenges that it brings. If you are worried about the potential for harm within 5G or any other wireless connection, then don’t. The frequencies used to provide data connections are not harmful to humans. This is because they are classed as ‘non-ionising’. This means they cannot disrupt cell bonds, so they won’t damage our insides. These frequencies are much higher than frequencies we use to communicate. Other key areas of discussion were Latency and Cyber.

Latency is an important consideration for a lot of applications and device types in a 5G New Radio environment. Latency is not massively important in a cellular role, but is more important in Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC). Specs for Latency are as low as 1ms, although most are in agreement this is not required by a lot of applications. There is also the massive issue of how do we actually achieve this latency? There is only so much a transport protocol can be fine-tuned and there is only so much management to be applied to network conditions such as routing etc. One key area being experimented is the introduction of Mobile Edge Computing (MEC). There is talk of now putting the MEC based servers in the Cell towers themselves, to massively reduce the distance from source to destination. This will be key in driving down the latency and also supporting the connection reliability targets of 99.999%.

Another key area of discussion was Cyber Security from a 5G context. The new issue is that for the first time, the industry has a network that has many cogs to it. There are many separate standards for many different device types, and no one will take collective responsibility for the challenges that this massive new environment presents from a Cyber perspective.

Another industry input that was nice to have was from Cluttons. It is interesting to think that connectivity drives many others areas of the economy, apart from speedy and efficient data communications. Cluttons discussed how good connectivity is driving property prices. Specifically, how connectivity is a prime consideration for buying a property as well as renting. This can be seen on housing sites such as Zoopla.

On the subject of Autonomous Connected Vehicles (ACV), it has now been decided that 5G is not necessary for an ACV, but it could certainly improve the experience with data analytics.

The question of 5G is an interesting one. One can only wonder what true Standalone 5G will look like and how long it will take to come to mainstream.

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