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5G – The Next Generation of Wireless, Explained.

In the third of a series of articles written by Professor Robert Gardiner, we discuss the factors influencing the roll-out of 5G technology and when it will be consumer ready.

How do I get 5G?

First and foremost, 5G is not a standalone technology, when the industry migrated from 1G to 2G all the equipment, infrastructure and mobiles were made obsolete overnight. 5G is a very high-tech blend of new technologies, sometimes sitting on top of existing and older systems.

The fundamental concept behind 5G technology and loT is that it is protocol agnostic. It Is A to Z communications, often using different routes to get from the originator to the recipient; one of the benefits of using WW standards is that technologies can interface, G802 standards ensured this and now we still use the 3GPP standards originally conceived in 1998 to define networking and interfacing. There are a massive amount of applications rolling out daily, we are often baffled by the seemingly endless acronyms launched…

When will I get 5G? The answer is simple, the industry does not really know, we are still at the stage of the uncertainty of unallocated spectrum, up-linking and down-linking methodology will they use TDD or FDD or a mix of the two? Will the frequency allocation be contiguous or non-contiguous? Will lower frequencies ((700Mhz) be used for U/L in rural areas? These questions will not in all honestly be answered until release 16 is announced.

One thing is for certain and that is until we get to the point when we have a really good 4G network we will not have a truly 5G network. IoT is different. IoT does not need 5G! Many thousands of IoT applications have been with us for many years and sit on either Wi-Fi or earlier generation cellular networks. However, when 5G is fully contiguous we will see massive increases in efficiency and through-put.

Vodafone announced that it will be conducting 5G trials in 7 cities through-out the UK October and November 2018, including London, Cardiff and Birmingham, the outlook is promising. Whether they will trail brand-new technologies is unclear DSA and eLTE WNA are still being trialed by Huawei (Discrete Spectrum Allocation).

The solution to provide end to end comms across D-2-D and M-2-M are more easily solved than connectivity between mobiles, Samsung have conducted trials as have Huawei in a number of tri-band devices but antenna and battery technology are still major factors in the delay to process. Therefore, the industry is saying that we will still use 2 and 4G for some time and discussions are now centered on perhaps using 3G frequencies for other purposes. Ofcom and the industry are still debating….

Finally, the cost of 5G mobile devices is a worry, because of the layered technology, battery life needed to support all these interesting applications is a concern. Perhaps by 2020 tech companies will be able to incorporate tri-band TRX’s extended battery life but until that point we will not see 5G hand sets on the high street.

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