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How 5G Will Change the Industrial Internet of Things

14 May
How 5G Will Change the Industrial Internet of Things

The race is on to develop the next generation of cellular technology, and in contrast with previous systems there is a significant focus on the needs of industrial networks using machine-to-machine (M2M) links in the Internet of Things (IoT).

The protocols and technologies that will be used for 5G networks are still being investigated, with the final standards expected to come together at the end of 2016 and approved by 2018. With much of the advanced work already done, operators are expecting to roll out commercial systems by 2020 based on these standards, with full systems implemented by 2022; so there is an aggressive development and implementation period that will impact developers of IoT systems. This will start with the development of the modem silicon, evolving from the current 4G designs, for smartphones and tablets. That modem silicon will be integrated into modules for easy addition to IoT and M2M designs. One key difference for the development of 5G systems is that the requirements of the network have been determined well in advance of the technology standards.

Figure 1: The development of standards, technology and networks for 5G is aggressive. Source: GSMA

The requirements of a 5G network will be real data rates of 1 to 10 Gbit/s, rather than theoretical peak rates, coupled with a 1 ms end-to-end latency, which is a key advantage for IoT developers. The wider network will have to support 1000x the bandwidth of today’s cells and 10 to 100 times more devices connected at the same time, which will again allow for many more connected devices of all kinds in the Internet of Things. Like 3G and 4G, the data connections will essentially be ‘always on’ rather than circuit switched, so the ability to support up to 100x more devices is critical, as many more devices will be connecting to the network simultaneously. The networks should have a perceived availability of 99.999%, and a perceived coverage of 100%, trading off data rate for range, which will also help with M2M implementations that need the range but not the data. This helps with the rollout of IoT networks as the nodes can connect directly to the Internet via a 5G basestation, rather than having to use a series of gateways or interface servers that need more sophisticated network planning.

Another factor that will be vital to the roll out of 5G IoT networks is the specification of lower power consumption, as the requirement is for a battery life of ten years or more for the wireless modem. This should open up the opportunity for many more battery-powered wireless IoT nodes, again providing for easier installation.

Frequency bands

However, meeting those requirements will be a challenge. The frequency bands being targeted range from 700 MHz in the bands previously used for analog broadcast TV, up to new bands for cellular links at 3.6 GHz.

The World Radio Congress in 2015 (WRC-15) agreed to a common allocation of 200  MHz of spectrum in the C-band from 3.4 to 3.6 GHz, which was seen as a positive step forward, as this is a new spectrum not previously used for telecoms applications. The WRC-15 also agreed to a harmonized L-band that runs from 1427-1518 MHz, well below the current 2.4 GHz band used by Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ZigBee

At the same time the 700 MHz band of 694-790 MHz was expanded from US and Asian use to a global allocation.

These different bands will all have different uses in 5G. The 700 MHz band is seen as popular for densely populated urban areas to get data to many more users, while the C-band is likely to be for higher bandwidth but shorter links.

This compares to the current LTE bands defined in 3GPP version 9 that provide HSPA+ data with download rates up to 100 Mbit/s and upload rates (which are more important for IoT) of 50 Mbit/s, more than sufficient for most M2M and IoT applications that do not need high definition video links. These 4G bands most commonly used for M2M and IoT applications around the world are 700/850 MHz and 1700/1900 MHz rather than the 2.6 GHz band. These are implemented by modules such as the MTSMC-H5-SP from Multi-Tech Systems that include fall back to GPRS data rates so that there is always a connection.

Figure 2: The 4G M2M module from Multi-Tech Systems

Some parts of the 5G proposals have been left until the next World Radio Congress in 2019. These will cover much higher frequencies at 24 GHz and up at 50 to 60 GHz that can be used for wireless fixed access links to carry high bandwidth data back from a basestation to the core network without having to lay expensive fiber optic cables and still meet that 1 ms round-trip latency requirement. These 5G fixed access transceivers will make use of gallium nitride (GaN) devices such as the CGHV1F025S from Cree. This 25 W, 40 V HEMT transistor supports a band from DC to 15 GHz for high efficiency, high gain and wide bandwidth designs in the L, S, C, X and Ku bands, neatly matching the 5G requirements.

It operates on a 40 V rail in a 3 mm x 4 mm, surface-mount, dual-flat-no-lead (DFN) package, but under reduced power it can operate below 40 V to as low as 20 V VDD while maintaining high gain and efficiency. Alongside the frequency bands, the channel models across the different bands are also being developed. Eight organizations in the European METIS and METIS-II task force have been working on the channel model across the expected 5G spectrum, with models for 2.3 GHz, 2.6 GHz, 5.25 GHz, 26.4 GHz, and 58.68 GHz.

Figure 3: The METIS and METIS-II European projects are developing channel models for a wide range of 5G applications. Source: METIS


One of the new considerations for 5G is the ability to support massive machine networks with a wide range of different sensors and actuators connected wirelessly.

Instead of providing direct connections, new nodes may be added via ‘capillary networks’. These would use a short-range wireless technology such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or 802.15.4 6LowPAN or ZigBee with a gateway node connecting to the 5G cellular network.

For applications such as traffic control, critical infrastructure and industrial process control require very high reliability and availability but also need very low latency, and introducing a gateway that has to convert data between different protocols can significantly increase the latency. As a result there is a lot of research into the different ways to achieve the 1 ms end-to-end latency when using capillary networks and gateways.

Figure 4: The varying requirements of massive IoT networks and time-critical networks in the 5G specifications. Source: Ericsson


The current technology proposals for 5G can support three times the number of IoT devices compared to 4G networks using a sparse code multiple access (SCMA) approach. This is a new spectral scheme that combines existing code division CDMA and orthogonal frequency division OFDM approaches.

With SCMA, different incoming data streams are directly mapped to code words that each represent a spread transmission layer so that multiple layers share the same time-frequency resources of OFDMA. User pairing, power sharing, rate adjustment, and scheduling algorithms are all used to improve the downlink throughput of a heavily loaded network.

Direct connection

The 5G specification is also including the ability for wireless M2M devices to connect directly. This has been introduced as an extension to the 4G LTE standards, but 5G is aiming to make this peer-to-peer communication significantly more efficient. This would be used for ad hoc links between nodes, as well as providing a direct data link back to a 5G smartphone, allowing a user to interrogate a node directly without having to go through the cellular network in the same way that Bluetooth is implemented today in some Industrial IoT networks.

However, this raises security issues, and the 5G specification expects these direct M2M links to be under network control to provide authorization. This will potentially increase the complexity of the wireless network software.

These are the key focus areas for the world’s largest academic 5G innovation center (5GIC), which brings together the UK’s four mobile operators with 70 researchers from 24 companies.

The £70 million center at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK is not only looking at the immediate specification of 5G networks in 2020, but how these networks will evolve to 2040. As part of this research, it has already demonstrated data rates of over 1 Tbit/s on mobile links, ten times that of the 5G specification.

The partners involved in the center are aiming to create a complete 5G system at the center by 2018 using today’s technologies, including a complete core network that can also be used for IoT. Before that happens, the standards will also be completed by the end of 2016 to allow developers to implement the silicon and sub-system designs.


The development of 5G networks is accelerating, delivering significant advantages for IoT and M2M networks in the future. The new frequency bands with dramatically lower latency and much higher capacity through spectral schemes such as SCMA are aimed directly at high volume industrial internet-connected networks that need a reliable response. With ultra-low-power and long battery life, wireless nodes can be easily implemented and cost-effectively deployed, although new features such as direct connections will drive up the complexity of the network software.  With the standards being settled at the end of 2016, trial networks in 2018 and full commercial rollout by 2020, silicon, board and module makers will be able to provide developers with powerful new technologies to further rollout the Industrial Internet of Things.

Source:  14 05 20

5G Health Risks: Here’s What the Experts Say

27 Oct
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

This year has delivered a whirlwind of hype surrounding 5G: how it will change lives, where 5G networks are launching around the world and when exactly your smartphone will be capable of lightning-fast speeds. But some people are concerned that the rollout of 5G is happening so quickly that we don’t truly understand if or how the launch of next-generation connectivity will bring unintended health consequences.

The short answer: The scientific consensus is that 5G, like 3G and 4G before it, is not harmful to your health. In August, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officially determined that 5G’s radio waves are safe.

But that finding probably won’t stem the tide of worry over 5G’s rollout, especially as more 5G phones hit the market and the coverage becomes more widespread.

Why are people concerned that 5G is unsafe?

Early 5G networks — including those launched by AT&TVerizon and T-Mobile — use high-frequency, millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum to deliver faster speeds. Some people are concerned that those radio waves, along with the additional cellular infrastructure needed to build out mmWave-based 5G networks in major cities, will increase the amount of radiation in the environment.

Millimeter-wave spectrum has never been used for telecommunications. However, that’s not because it’s dangerous; the higher-frequency bands are just not as effective at transmitting data across distances. An mmWave-based 5G signal can’t penetrate objects, such as glass windows or concrete buildings. It also can’t penetrate the body.

The concerns over 5G are an extension of the worries some people have about cellphones in general.

But 5G is a form of radiation, right?

There are two types of radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing. Ultra-high-frequency ionizing radiation — which includes gamma-rays, UV rays from the sun and X-rays — is harmful to humans because it penetrates the body at the cellular level and causes electrons and atoms to break apart. Ionizing radiation can cause cancer, which is why you’re supposed to wear sunscreen outdoors and avoid unnecessary medical X-rays.

Non-ionizing radiation does not cause cancer, and runs the gamut from FM radio waves to visible light. In between the two is 5G, which operates at a slightly higher frequency than 3G and 4G.

The FCC requires all electronic equipment sold in the U.S. to meet the agency’s safety standards for acceptable radio-frequency (RF) energy by determining the device’s specific absorption rate (SAR), or the rate by which the body absorbs RF energy. The FCC recently reevaluated its standards, which were created in 1996, when determining the safety of 5G. The recommended RF exposure limits remain unchanged.

“The scientific consensus is that there are no known health risks from all forms of RF energy at the low levels approved for everyday consumer use,” a spokesperson for CTIA, a trade group for the wireless communications industry, said in an emailed statement. “The FCC regulates RF emissions, including millimeter waves from 5G devices and equipment, and has adopted the recommendations of expert scientific organizations that have reviewed the science, including dozens of studies focused specifically on millimeter waves, and established safe exposure levels.”

What’s driving the fear of 5G?

There are a few factors contributing to the concern — or outright fear — of 5G’s effects.

The first is scientific research that has been interpreted by some to support concern about cellphone radiation. For instance, a 2018 study released by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) found that when rats and mice were exposed to radio-frequency waves like the kind that emanate from cellphones, they developed malignant tumors. This particular study looked at 2G and 3G phones. However, that doesn’t mean 5G will cause cancerous tumors in humans.

Skeptics, like the University of California, Berkeley’s Joel Moskowitz, are calling for a halt to 5G’s rollout.

“The exposures used in the studies cannot be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience when using a cellphone,” John Bucher, a senior scientist for the NTP, said when announcing the findings. “In our studies, rats and mice received radio-frequency radiation across their whole bodies. By contrast, people are mostly exposed in specific local tissues close to where they hold the phone. In addition, the exposure levels and durations in our studies were greater than what people experience.”

The NTP has said it plans to develop thorough studies to evaluate the safety of 5G.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has categorized RF waves from cellphones as a possible carcinogen, which is another factor contributing to the concerns over 5G. But, for context, an ingredient in coffee is also considered a possible carcinogenRed meat is categorized as a probable carcinogen, which means it has a stronger link to cancer than cellphones do.

The New York Times reported earlier this year that one of the primary 5G fearmongers is Russian propaganda spreading on YouTube, Facebook and blogs across the internet. Videos and news articles filled with misinformation are scaring U.S. consumers even as Russia proceeds with its own 5G plans.

Have there been studies to prove that 5G isn’t a health risk to humans?

5G is a new standard for wireless communication, but from a technological standpoint, it isn’t all that different from 3G and 4G. The radio-frequency waves from 5G cellphones are akin to the RF waves from LTE devices (i.e., non-ionizing). According to the American Cancer Society, most studies have shown that “the RF waves given off by cell phones don’t have enough energy to damage DNA directly or to heat body tissues.”

In 2000, a now-debunked study on the effect of radio waves on brain tissue fueled conspiracy theories about cellphones and radiation. The author of the study, physicist Bill Curry, claimed that wireless devices could cause brain cancer in humans. According to The New York Times, Curry neglected to take into account that our skin protects our internal tissues from high-frequency radio waves (which is, again, why you need to wear sunscreen to protect the skin from even higher-frequency UV rays).

“If you’re more concerned about the base station on your building than you are [about] spending an hour in the noonday sun without any protection, you might want to think about your priorities.”

                  Christopher Collins

However, because 5G networks are just now getting off the ground with a new roster of 5G phones, no long-term studies of the network or the devices and their effects on humans have been conducted. In addition, the types of devices we use and the way we use them are constantly changing. For that reason, skeptics such as Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, are calling for a halt to 5G’s rollout.

Moskowitz said it would be unethical to conduct a conclusive scientific study on human beings controlling for the health effects of cellphone radiation, so researchers rely on observational and animal studies. Those studies haven’t proved conclusively that cellphones are harmful to humans, but Moskowitz thinks there’s enough evidence to “put a moratorium on the rollout of new technologies” like 5G infrastructure build-out until more research is done.

“I’m certain that, within the next five years, radio-frequency radiation will be declared at least probably carcinogenic [by the WHO],” Moskowitz said.

But Christopher Collins, a professor in New York University’s radiology department who studies the safety of electromagnetic fields, said the lack of 5G-specific research doesn’t mean researchers are starting from scratch when evaluating 5G’s potential effects on human health.

“A lot of the premise of people who advocate against 5G or wireless communications fields in general seem to suggest that we just don’t know and we need to do more studies,” Collins said. “We know a lot. We’ve been doing experiments on humans and animals for decades over this entire spectrum.”

Collins said scientists “never want to say the book is closed,” but based on what we already know, there’s no evidence to suggest that 5G will cause cancer or other detrimental health effects in most people.

So why are some local governments putting a stop to 5G development?

Prior to the FCC’s 5G safety determination, city and state regulators were hearing from residents who were concerned that not enough was known about 5G. Specifically, people are concerned that the density of small cell sites required to build out mmWave-based 5G networks would emit dangerous amounts of radiation.

The FCC’s 5G FAST Plan, which requires municipalities to approve 5G cell sites within 60 to 90 days, has caused concern. Carriers are moving quickly to build out infrastructure without giving residents notice, The Wall Street Journal reported, and local legislators are pushing back. Some 90 cities and counties have filed suit against the FCC in a case currently pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Homeowners may not want new antennas outside their homes for aesthetic reasons, or because they want advance notice when changes occur in their communities, but the FCC, industry trade groups and many scientists maintain there is no proven health risk.

“Typical exposure to 5G devices — such as small cells attached to phone poles or the sides of buildings — is far below the permissible levels and comparable to Bluetooth devices and baby monitors,” the CTIA spokesperson said. “The FCC continues to monitor the science to ensure that its regulations are protective of public health.”

Or, as NYU’s Chris Collins put it:

“One thing that we know can cause cancer is sunlight. People would generally do better to worry about that than the exposure levels we’re talking about with cellphones. If you’re more concerned about the base station on your building than you are [about] spending an hour in the noonday sun without any protection, you might want to think about your priorities.”

Bottom line

“Is it time to stop questioning? No, it’s never time to stop questioning,” he said. “It’s important to remember that, based on what we know now, there is no effect except for heating. This is based on many decades’ worth of study in these fields. It’s another thing to say, ‘Should we stop progress?’ based on what I would call unfounded concerns. I am quite certain there’s nothing to be alarmed about for millimeter waves.”

If you are concerned, there are ways to mitigate your personal exposure to cellphone radiation by using fewer wireless devices. That might also do wonders for your mental health, too.

5G Interview Questions: 50 Questions on Spectrum

4 Oct

These slides are for information purposes only. The questions asked in this has been covered in other tutorials and opinion videos. The latest PDF version of this document can be downloaded from here:

Soruce: 3G4G Website – 3G4G



KPN Fears 5G Freeze-Out

17 Mar
  • KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) is less than happy with the Dutch government’s policy on spectrum, and says that the rollout of 5G in the Netherlands and the country’s position at the forefront of the move to a digital economy is under threat if the government doesn’t change tack. The operator is specifically frustrated by the uncertainty surrounding the availability of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, which has been earmarked by the EU for the launch of 5G. KPN claims that the existence of a satellite station at Burum has severely restricted the use of this band. It also objects to the proposed withdrawal of 2 x 10MHz of spectrum that is currently available for mobile communications. In a statement, the operator concludes: “KPN believes that Dutch spectrum policy will only be successful if it is in line with international spectrum harmonization agreements and consistent with European Union spectrum policy.”
  • Russian operator MegaFon is trumpeting a new set of “smart home” products, which it has collectively dubbed Life Control. The system, says MegaFon, uses a range of sensors to handle tasks related to the remote control of the home, and also encompasses GPS trackers and fitness bracelets. Before any of the Life Control products will work, however, potential customers need to invest in MegaFon’s Smart Home Center, which retails for 8,900 rubles ($150).
  • German digital service provider Exaring has turned to ADVA Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV) ‘s FSP 3000 platform to power what Exaring calls Germany’s “first fully integrated platform for IP entertainment services.” Exaring’s new national backbone network will transmit on-demand TV and gaming services to around 23 million households.
  • British broadcaster UKTV, purveyor of ancient comedy shows on the Dave channel and more, has unveiled a new player on the YouView platform for its on-demand service. It’s the usual rejig: new home screen, “tailored” program recommendations and so on. The update follows YouView’s re-engineering of its platform, known as Next Generation YouView.



What is mm wave and how does it fit into 5G?

16 Aug

Extremely high frequency’ means extremely fast 5G speeds

Millimeter wave, also known as extremely high frequency, is the band of spectrum between 30 gigahertzand 300 GHz. Wedged between microwave and infrared waves, this spectrum can be used for high-speed wireless communications as seen with the latest 802.11ad Wi-Fi standard (operating at 60 GHz). It is being considered by standards organization, the Federal Communications Commission and researchers as the way to bring “5G” into the future by allocating more bandwidth to deliver faster, higher-quality video, and multimedia content and services.

source: NI

Source: National Instruments

Earlier this year, Ted Rappaport, founding director of NYU Wireless, said mobile data traffic is projected to rise 53% each year into the “foreseeable future,” and over the last 40 years, computer clock speeds and memory sizes rose by as much as six orders of magnitude. We need higher frequency spectrum to accommodate the increases in data usage, and one of the greatest and most important uses of millimeter waves is in transmitting large amounts of data.

source: NI

Source: National Instruments

Today, mmWave frequencies are being utilized for applications such as streaming high-resolution video indoors. Traditionally however, these higher frequencies were not strong enough for indoor broadband applications due to high propagation loss and susceptibility to blockage from buildings as well asabsorption from rain drops. These problems made mmWave impossible for mobile broadband.

Too good to be true?

High frequency means narrow wavelengths, and for mmWaves that sits in the range of 10 millimeters to 1 millimeter. It’s strength can be reduced due to its vulnerabilities against gases, rain and humidity absorption. And to make things even less appealing, due to those factors, millimeter wavelengths only reach out to a few kilometers.

source: Microsoft

Source: Microsoft

Just a few years ago mmWave was not being put to use because few electronic components could receive millimeter waves. Now, thanks to new technologies, it is on the brink of being an integral part of the next-generation network.

The solutions

Thankfully, the same characteristics that make mmWave so difficult to implement can be used to combat its shortcomings.

Short transmission paths and high propagation losses allows for spectrum reuse by limiting the amount of interference between adjacent cells, according to Robert W. Heath, professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. In addition, where longer paths are desired, the extremely short wavelengths of mmWave signals make it feasible for very small antennas to concentrate signals into highly focused beams with enough gain to overcome propagation losses. The short wavelengths of mmWave signals also make it possible to build multielement, dynamic beamforming antennas that will be small enough to fit into handsets.

source: UT Austin

Source: UT Austin

How mmWave spectrum is being handled

Last October the FCC proposed new rules for wireless broadband in wireless frequencies above 24 gigahertz. According to the government organization, these proposed rules “are an opportunity to move forward on creating a regulatory environment in which these emerging next-generation mobile technologies – such as so-called 5G mobile service – can potentially take hold and deliver benefits to consumers, businesses, and the U.S. economy.”

According to the FCC, the organization is “taking steps to unlock the mobile broadband and unlicensed potential of spectrum at the frontier above 24 GHz.”

Service operators have begun investigating mmWave technology to evaluate the best candidate frequencies for use in mobile applications. The International Telecommunication Union and 3GPP have aligned on a plan for two phases of research for 5G standards. The first phase, completing September 2018, defines a period of research for frequencies less than 40 GHz to address the more urgent subset of the commercial needs. The second phase is slated to begin in 2018 and complete in December 2019 to address the KPIs outlined by IMT 2020. This second phase focuses on frequencies up to 100 GHz, according to National Instruments.

In an report titled Millimeter-wave for 5G: Unifying Communication and Sensing, Xinyu Zhang, assistant professor of the electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin, detailed the mmWave bands being considered:

  • 57 GHz to 64 GHz unlicensed;
  • 7 GHz in total 28 GHz/38 GHz licensed but underutilized; and
  • 3.4 GHz in total 71 GHz/81 GHz/92GHz Light-licensed band: 12.9 GHz in total
source: National Instruments

Source: National Instruments

The ITU released a list of proposed globally viable frequencies between 24 GHz and 86 GHz after the most recent World Radiocommunications Conference:

24.25–27.5GHz                                        31.8–33.4GHz

37–40.5GHz                                             40.5–42.5GHz

45.5–50.2GHz                                           50.4–52.6GHz

66–76GHz                                                      81–86GHz


IOT and 5G Likely to be Held Back by the RF Spectrum Crunch

14 Mar


pureLiFi, the light communications technology company that leads the market in research and commercialisation of LiFi, has warned that advances in the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G are likely to be held back by the looming radio frequency (RF) spectrum ‘crunch’. LiFi benefits from a source that is 1000 times larger than the entire 300 GHz of RF spectrum and 600,000 larger than a 60 GHz WiFi/WiGig channel that, in turn, enables a huge exponential growth in future data rates and the advancement of IoT, Industry 4.0 and 5G.

While WiGig delivers 7 Gbps, industry research predicts we will need access points that can deliver 53 Gbps by 2020 and over 800 Gbps by 2025 (this would require at least 1/5 of the entire 300 GHz radio spectrum which already is mostly occupied by commercial and defence applications). Moreover, LiFi allows significantly more access points than RF and WiGig, achieving the higher data rates necessary for the entire IoT in large part due to an ability to produce small cells necessary for faster data rates – as opposed to RF where interference is a major problem when it comes to 5G and the 5 metre cell radius required.

The high performance LiFi optical attocell network being developed by pureLiFi can achieve significantly higher data rates in dense environments compared to multicellular RF networks and incorporates inherent data security characteristics. The company’s latest LiFi dongle and LiFi access point (LiFi-X) were recently demonstrated atMobile World Congress and mobile integration remains the primary focus on the product roadmap in 2016.

Professor Harald Haas, co-founder of pureLiFi, said: “If you look at the Internet of Things, traditional WiFi will be massively inefficient when there are so many devices interacting in one area. The networking ability to integrate with mobile is a groundbreaking development in LiFi, one that is characterised by the speed of data transfer and the continuing miniaturisation process.”

pureLiFi invented, developed and commercialised the world’s first full wireless LiFi networking system and has since developed a stream of next generation products. LiFi is a technology invented by Professor Haas based on visible light communication (VLC) that provides full networking capabilities similar to WiFi but with significantly greater spatial reuse of bandwidth.



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5 Years to 5G: Enabling Rapid 5G System Development

13 Feb

As we look to 2020 for widespread 5G deployment, it is likely that most OEMs will sell production equipment based on FPGAs.

5G round-up: Everything you need to know

30 Jan

Universities, governments and telecoms companies are investing stupendous amounts of time and money into the development of 5G, but what is it and how will it benefit us over and above what both 3G and 4G networks are currently able to deliver? How will it change the mobile industry and when can we expect to start using it?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

5G is purported to deliver data speeds that are literally thousands of times faster than 4G

What is 5G?

Unsurprisingly, it’s the next generation after 4G

5G is the next generation of mobile technology. A new generation of mobile standards has appeared roughly every 10 years since analogue systems – which later became known as 1G – were introduced in 1981.

2G was the first to use digital radio signals and introduced data services, including SMS text messages; 3G brought us mobile internet access and video calls; 4G, which has been rolled out in the UK since 2012, provides faster and more reliable mobile broadband internet access.

It will use higher frequency spectrum than current networks

5G, like its predecessors, is a wireless technology that will use specific radio wavelengths, or spectrum. Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, has become involved early in its development and has asked mobile operators to help lay the foundations for the technology. That’s because in order to achieve the best possible speeds, it will need large swathes of this high-frequency spectrum, some of which is already being used by other applications, including the military.

The frequencies in question are above 6GHz – currently used for satellite broadcasting, weather monitoring and scientific research.

What will I be able to do on 5G?

Download a film in under a minute

Fifth generation networks will feature improved web browsing speeds as well as faster download and upload speeds. O2 told that 5G will offer “higher speed data communication” than 4G, allowing users to “download a film in under a minute, add lower latency (the time lag between an action and a response) and reduce buffering and add more capacity”.

According to Ericsson, 5G will help to create more reliable and simpler networks that will open up a world of practical uses such as the remote control of excavating equipment or even remote surgery using a robot.

Vice president Magnus Furustam, head of product area cloud systems, speaking to at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, said: “What 5G will bring is even more reliable networks, better latency, you will see networks penetrating into areas they previously haven’t.

“You will see smaller cells [network transmitters or masts], you will see higher bandwidth, you will see more frequencies being used, you will basically see mobile broadband networks reaching further out, both from a coverage perspective as well as from a device perspective.”

5G will give the impression of infinite capacity

Speaking to at the International Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, Ramneek Bali, a technical solutions manager for Ericsson, said 5G “is going to enable the networked society.

“When we say networked society, basically you’ve heard of the internet of things, connected devices, connected cars, even high throughput – 5G is going to enable all that.”

The University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), meanwhile, which is working alongside companies including Huawei, Vodafone and Fujitsu, has set the 5G network a target of ‘always having sufficient rate to give the user the impression of infinite capacity’ by understanding the demands of the user and allocating resources where they are needed.

The past: the birth of mobile internet

5G will deliver the low latency and reliability needed for operations to be carried out remotely using robotic arms

How fast will 5G be?

5G will be 3,333 times faster than 4G

5G is expected to deliver data speeds of between 10 and 50Gbps, compared to the average 4G download speed which is currently 15Mbps.

Huawei’s report ‘5G: A Technology Vision’ says a 5G network will be required to deliver data rates of at least 1Gbps to support ultra HD video and virtual reality applications, and 10Gbps data rates for mobile cloud services.

5G will have ‘near-zero’ latency

Latency will be so low – less than one millisecond – that it will be imperceptible to humans and the switching time between different radio access technologies (cellular networks, wi-fi and so on) will take a maximum of 10 milliseconds.

Ericsson has trialled 5G technology with Japanese carrier NTT Docomo, announcing that its “pre-standard” technology had already achieved speeds of 5Gbps. Samsung announced in October 2014 it had achieved speeds of 7.5Gbps, the fastest-ever 5G data transmission rate in a stationary environment. It also achieved a stable connection at 1.2Gbps in a vehicle travelling at over 100km/h.

When will I be able to get 5G?

The first 5G handsets could arrive as early as 2017

Speaking exclusively to, Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker, said that the first 5G smartphones are set to appear in 2017.

The Chinese telecoms giant said the focus for mobile companies would shift away from 4G over the next two years.

“4G LTE is definitely a big thing for us and we’re working with some of the big adopters for 5G as well,” said Huawei Device USA’s training manager Jack Borg, talking to at International CES.

5G on the horizon

“Carriers are taking the current 4G we have and they’re giving it some boost and they’re adding to it and changing it. Liberty Global, Verizon and AT&T have all done that recently in different markets in the US.

“So I think we’re going to see that and ride that for a while but then 5G will definitely be on the horizon. I would say probably in the next year-and-a-half to two years.”

Huawei plans to build a 5G mobile network for the FIFA World Cup in 2018 alongside Russian mobile operator Megafon. The trials will run across the 11 cities that will be hosting matches and will serve fans as well as providing a platform for devices to connect to each other.

SK Telecom has teamed up with Nokia to build a 5G test bed at its R&D centre in Bundang, South Korea. They hope to launch a 5G network in 2018 and commercialise it by 2020.

The past: the birth of mobile internet

The first 5G smartphones could arrive as early as 2017

50 billion devices connected to 5G by 2020

Speaking to, Ericsson has said that by 2020, 5G networks are going to be serving 50 billion connected devices around the world.

“The technology has to handle a thousand times more volume than what we have today,” Ramneek Bali said.

“We are looking at handling more capacity in 5G because we’re seeing more and more devices will be connected.

“It’s exciting, it’s a platform we are going to provide to everyone to basically connect everything, anywhere. That’s the vision we have for 5G.”

Will 5G come to the UK before other countries?

The general consensus seems to be that the UK is still a few years away from introducing 5G networks to any greater extent than an initially testing/prototypical one.

O2 told that “some countries have earlier demands and industrial policies that may lead to earlier adoption of 5G”, even though the UK is playing a leading role in the development of the technology, including at the University of Surrey’s 5GIC.

5G test network

The innovation centre is expected to provide a 5G test network to the university campus by the beginning of 2018, and London mayor Boris Johnson has promised to bring 5G connectivity to the capital by 2020.

Will 5G replace 3G and 4G?

5G promises a seamless network experience undeliverable by current tech

It has taken a number of years for 3G networks to get anywhere near to 100% coverage and the UK’s 4G coverage varies considerably depending on the operator, but is generally limited to the big cities.

Bruce Girdlestone, senior businesses development manager at Virgin Media Business, told that 5G is one of a number of technologies that together should be able to provide a “seamless” experience to consumers.

“I think what will happen is small cells, 4G and 5G, and wi-fi will improve and it will become much more seamless to the end user.

The past: the birth of mobile internet

Mobile phones will roam seamlessly between wi-fi and cellular services

Customers won’t know what service they are using

“So they will just consume data over the spectrum and they won’t even know whether it’s over wi-fi or cellular services.

“With that and with 4G and then ultimately 5G from like 2020 going forwards you’ll start to see much more seamless service and much more data being consumed which will then need to be ported on our fibre network.

“It’s going to be a very interesting three or four years as we see how these different technologies develop and overlap with each other as people start to roll these networks out.”


The development of 5G is at such an early stage that the standards by which it is measured are yet to be agreed. What we do know is that it will be fast. Very fast. So fast that many will ask why you would ever need such a fast data speed on a mobile network. They could be missing the point slightly.

The continued rollout of 4G should cater for most of our current mobile broadband needs. But as we’ve seen with other advances in technology, having the ability to do more increases our expectations and before we know it, things that once seemed like science fiction become ‘the norm’. As our expectations increase we put more strain on the networks underpinning this technology.

We can’t predict what demands we will be placing on mobile networks in 10 or 20 years’ time but the idea behind 5G is that it will be fast enough and reliable enough to cope with whatever we can throw at it, that it will feel like a network with infinite capacity – that is why the 5GIC has been given millions of pounds of public money to research it and why companies like Ericsson and Huawei are investing huge sums in the technology.

The first 5G networks should start appearing over the next few years and if they really do deliver a user experience that is effectively limitless, we may find ourselves asking if there will be a need for 6G.


Laying the foundations for 5G mobile

23 Jan

5g mobile hologram

So-called ‘5G’ mobile communications will use a very high frequency part of the spectrum above 6 GHz. This could support a variety of new uses including holographic projections and 3D medical imaging, with the potential to support very high demand users in busy areas, such as city centres. 5G mobile is expected to deliver extremely fast data speeds – perhaps 10 to 50 Gbit/s – compared with today’s average 4G download speed of 15 Mbit/s. 5G services are likely to use large blocks of spectrum to achieve these speeds, which are difficult to find at lower frequencies.

The timeframe for the launch of 5G services is uncertain, although commercial applications could emerge by 2020, subject to research and development and international agreements for aligning frequency bands. Ofcom says it is important to do the groundwork now, to understand how these frequencies might be used to serve citizens and consumers in the future. The regulator is therefore asking industry to help plan for the spectrum and bandwidth requirements of 5G.

The spectrum above 6 GHz currently supports various uses – from scientific research, to satellite broadcasting and weather monitoring. One of Ofcom’s core roles is to manage the limited supply of spectrum, taking into account the current and future demands to allow these different services to exist alongside each other.


1g 2g 3g 4g 5g mobile technology timeline


Steve Unger, Ofcom’s Acting Chief Executive: “We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications. Working with industry, we want to lay the foundations for the UK’s next generation of wireless communications.

“5G must deliver a further step change in the capacity of wireless networks – over and above that currently being delivered by 4G. No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers’ needs.”

Philip Marnick, Ofcom Spectrum Group Director, comments: “We want to explore how high frequency spectrum could potentially offer significant capacity for extremely fast 5G mobile data. This could pave the way for innovative new mobile services for UK consumers and businesses.”

These innovations, according to Ofcom, might include real-time holographic technologies, allowing relatives to virtually attend family gatherings. Or they could enable specialist surgeons to oversee hospital operations while located on the other side of the world, using 3D medical imaging.

Ofcom is seeking views on the use of spectrum above 6 GHz that might be suitable for future mobile communication services. The closing date for responses is 27th February 2015.



LTE Direct Gets Real

1 Oct

LTE Direct, a new feature being added to the LTE protocol, will make it possible to bypass cell towers, notes Technology Review. Phones using LTE Direct (Qualcomm whitepaper), will be able to “talk” directly to other mobile devices as well as connect to beacons located in shops and other businesses.

The wireless technology standard is baked into the latest LTE spec, which is slated for approval this year. It could appear in phones as soon as late 2015. Devices capable of LTE Direct can interconnect up to 500 meters — far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. But issues like authorisation and authentication, currently handled by the network, would need to be extended to accommodate device to device to communication without the presence of the network.

At the LTE World Summit, Thomas Henze from Deutsche Telekom AG presented some use cases of proximity services via LTE device broadcast.

Since radio to radio communications is vital for police and fire, it has been incorporated into release 12 of the LTE-A spec, due in 2015.

At Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference in San Francisco this month, the company announced that it’s helping partners including Facebook and Yahoo experiment with the technology.

Facebook is also interested in LTE Multicast which is a Broadcast TV technology. Enhanced Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (also called E-MBMS or LTE Broadcast), uses cellular frequencies to multicast data or video to multiple users, simultaneously. This enables mobile operators to offer mobile TV without the need for additional spectrum or TV antenna and tuner.

FCC: Better Rural Broadband & 5G Spectrum

Posted by Sam Churchill on September 30th, 2014

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to see to the program that provides subsidies for Internet service in public schools and libraries known as E-Rate address broadband access by schools and libraries in rural areas, reports Roll Call.

In prepared remarks for an education technology event in Washington on Monday, Wheeler said that “75 percent of rural public schools today are unable to achieve the high-speed connectivity goals we have set.” He pointed to lack of access to fiber networks and the cost of paying for it when it’s available.


Wheeler says the FCC has set a clear target of $1 billion per year for Wi-Fi based internal networks for schools and libraries. “As a result, we will begin to see results in the next funding year, with expanded support for Wi-Fi to tens of millions of students and thousands of libraries”.

Wheeler’s speech comes after the FCC made changes to the E-Rate program this summer. Wheeler’s earlier plan to shake up the program was only partly successful — his FCC colleagues agreed to make more money available for Wi-Fi, as Wheeler proposed in June, but only if the money isn’t needed for basic Internet connections.

In other news, in announcing its agenda for its Oct. 17 open meeting, the FCC said it will vote on a Notice of Inquiry to “explore innovative developments in the use of spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services, and how the Commission can facilitate the development and deployment of those technologies.”

In a blog post, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote that the inquiry is aimed at broadening the FCC’s “understanding of the state of the art in technological developments that will enable the use of millimeter wave spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services.”

“Historically, mobile wireless services have been targeted at bands below 3 GHz due to technological and practical limitations. However, there have been significant developments in antenna and processing technologies that may allow the use of higher frequencies – in this case those above 24 GHz – for mobile applications”, wrote the Chairman.

5G or 5th generation wireless systems is expected to be the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards and use frequencies above 5-6 GHz (where more spectrum is available. 5G does not describe any particular specification in any official document published by any telecommunication standardization body, and is expected to deliver over 10 Gbps, compared to 1 Gbps in 4G. It is expected to be first utilized for backhaul to cell sites.

Currently, Ubiquiti’s AirFiber has set the standard in 24 GHz at $3K for 700 Mbps while SAF, Trango, and others have announced similar products at $5000 or less.

Regarding “net neutrality”, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says financial arrangements between broadband providers and content sites might be OK so long as the agreement is “commercially reasonable” and companies disclose publicly how they prioritize Internet traffic.

Not everyone agrees. Netflix and much of the public accuses the FCC of handing the Internet over to the highest bidders. There is no deadline for the FCC to pass a new rule, and deliberations at the agency could continue into next year.

The 3G4G Blog, compiled by Zahid Ghadialy, is perhaps the most comprehensive site covering 5G technology news.

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