5G is the fifth generation mobile network. Find out everything you need to know about it. How it works, its benefits and dangers, or the interest in Big Data, the Cloud and Artificial Intelligence?
All over the world, the telecom operators have started to deploy their 5G networks. This fifth-generation mobile network technology offers a faster wireless Internet connection, with data download speeds significantly faster than 4G.
However, 5G does not only allow to surf the web faster with a smartphone. It is a revolutionary technology, capable of powering new technologies for the general public and for businesses.
What is 5G?
The 5G is the fifth generation wireless network broadband. As with every generation, it represents a quantum leap in terms of speed, reliability and accessibility.
This new network offers data download speed faster in both directions, extended connectivity and superior response time. Latency is virtually non-existent.
The advantages of 5G
The main advantage of 5G is the speed it offers. However, it has many other strengths.
Sa higher bandwidth allows it to support more connected devices simultaneously. As a result, the network will not be overloaded in the most populated areas as was the case with previous generations of mobile networks.
From new connected objects will be made possible by 5G. In particular, it opens up new possibilities for autonomous cars.
Besides.., 5G reduces latency. The time it takes a smartphone or other connected device to make a request to a server and receive a response is virtually reduced to zero. Communications with cloud platforms will also be faster and simpler.
Revolution or simple improvement?
For the general public, 5G can be similar to a simple improvement over 4G. However, this new network not only offers increased speed.
For example, for example.., Autonomous vehicles imperatively require a constant and uninterrupted mobile connection for safe operation. 5G will make this innovation possible by delivering data faster and more stable.
Connected objects and products of the Smart Home will also benefit from this advance, as more devices can be connected to the network without overloading it. This results in greater data processing capacity and significantly reduced latency.
We are consuming more and more data every year, especially on smartphones. Music and video streaming is becoming increasingly popular. 5G will therefore allow us to take even greater advantage of these technologies, but above all avoid congestion in the spectrum bands existing when many people are trying to access the same mobile online services simultaneously.
How does 5G work?
The operation of the 5G is based on new radio frequencies used for the transmission of signals. It uses radio frequency spectrum and fibre optic cable technology to process larger volumes of data in less time.
The data are encoded using OFDM technologyand then sent via radio waves between cellular antennas connected to the same network within a territory. One of the differences between 5G and previous generations is that radio frequencies are targeted.
This means that 5G is only available in certain areasusually in the densest cities. Thanks to radio frequencies higher than 4G and the use of newer technology, 5G can reach underground levels and penetrate thick walls.
Nevertheless, this network operates millimetre radio waves much shorter than the waves used by 4G. Its range is therefore shorter. In summary, the technology and equipment on which 5G is based is very different.
It is therefore necessary to equipment upgrades communication antennas, especially radios. There are three ways to develop a 5G network. A low-band network offers wide coverage, but only 20% more speed than 4G.
A high-band network is extremely fastbut the transmission of signals is difficult, especially the crossing of solid surfaces. Finally, the medium-band network balances coverage and speed.
The chosen method is generally resource-dependent that an operator already has. The fastest 5G networks are based on many small cell sites, similar in size to a pizza box.
These sites are installed on posts, walls or towers and must be located in close proximity to each other. This is why they are usually deployed from city to city. In order to offer both high speed and wide coverage, operators often opt for a combination of different types of networks.
The speed of the 5G
The fastest 5G networks will be at least 10 times faster than 4G networksaccording to the GSMA industrial group. According to some experts, they could even be 100 times faster.
In concrete terms, it would therefore be possible to download a two-hour film in less than 10 seconds compared to about seven minutes with 4G. However, the speed depends on various factors such as network traffic and the geographical position of the user.
Currently, the fastest 4G networks offer an average approximate speed of 45 megabits per second. This means that 5G connections can easily reach a speed of 500 megabits per second. Ideally, they could even reach a throughput of 10 gigabits per second .
As a minimum, 5G networks will offer 20Gbps download speed and 10Gb/s for upload. In comparison, the minimum for 5G was 150Mb/s for download and 15Mbps for upload.
The 5G also offers a massive drop in latency. For 3G, the average latency was 100 milliseconds. In 4G, it was reduced to only 30 milliseconds. With 5G, the latency will be almost eliminated since it is less than 1 millisecond .
5G use cases and applications
The 5G offers many possibilities. For smartphones, it makes local storage unnecessary. It allows you to transfer files to the cloud very quickly, including 8K video taken with the latest high-end cameras. The image quality of video calls will also improve.
In addition, this mobile network can compete with an internet box in terms of speed and even surpassing it. Internet service providers will therefore be able to offer new services.
Thanks to its low latency and high bandwidth, 5G will also enable many applications in the fields of IoT, Cloud Gaming or virtual reality. The industrial robotics and automation will also benefit from this major innovation.
The same applies to autonomous vehicles. From swarms of drones will be able to cooperate and communicate via 5G to conduct rescue operations or traffic surveillance.
5G vs 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G: the differences
With each new generation of cellular networks, the speed of data transmission increases. But that’s not the only difference. Each new generation is also marked by an innovation in encoding.
The 1G was the generation of the analog cell phone. The first mobile wireless networks were developed in the 1970s and 1980s. Voices were carried over radio waves without encryption, so anyone could listen to conversations very easily.
The 2G technologies such as CDMA, GSM, etc. were the first generation of digital cellular technologies. It was finally possible to encrypt calls, use wireless spectrum more efficiently, and achieve data transfer speeds comparable to early Internet services.
The 3G technologies such as EVDO, HSPA and UMTS have brought speeds ranging from 200 kbps to a few megabits per second. This third generation has brought an improvement in bandwidth, and has propelled the smartphone revolution.
The first 3G networks were built in the early 2000sbut have spread very slowly in some regions such as the United States. The first iPhone of 2007 was not yet 3G compatible. At the time, Japan was well ahead in 3G coverage and mobile internet use.
With the 4G technologies, such as WiMAX and LTEs, have achieved speeds of several hundred megabits per second. Thanks to the boom in mobile applications and the democratisation of smartphones by Apple and Google, the United States has caught up with Japan and Europe and has become a leader.
Now, the 5G brings several major new features. Wider channels speed up data transmission, lower latency for faster response, and more devices can be connected simultaneously.
5G smartphones require all networks and 4G coverage, and early 5G networks use 4G to establish their initial connections. Now, however, independent 5G networks are emerging. However, they have a loss of performance without the assistance of 4G.
One of the specificities of 5G is to allow 5G smartphones to seamlessly combine channels 4G and 5G and invisible to the user. In the short term, most connections will combine 4G and 5G.
What frequency does 5G use?
Like 4G, 5G uses a frequency called Sub-6 network. It is capable of processing up to 6GHz of data.
Nevertheless, the 5G is the first generation to be able to operate on three different radio spectra : low, medium or high band. The high frequency bands are millimeter waves and can process up to 40GHz of frequency.
It is important to understand that 5G is not faster than 4G on the same radio channels. The speed gain is related to the fact that 5G allows smartphones and other devices to use wider channels on the same radio channels. a wider frequency range.
With 4G, it was possible to combine a maximum of seven 20MHz channels to use a total of 140MHz of spectrum. However, smartphones typically use 60MHz or less.
With the new smartphones, in the low or medium 5G band, it is possible to combine two 100MHz channels for a total of 200Mhz. It is also possible to cumulate several 4G 20MH channels in addition.
The 5G low band works on frequencies below 2GHz. These are the oldest cellular frequencies. They cover a large distance, but there are no wide channels available and most are used by 4G. Low band 5G is therefore relatively slow, and for the moment looks like 4G.
The 5G medium band uses frequencies from 2 to 10GHz. This covers most current WiFi and cellular frequencies. The range is correct, and so is the speed.
On the 5G high bandUp to eight 100MHz channels can be used. Millimeter waves are the real novelty. These are waves between 20 and 100Ghz. These waves have hardly ever been used before for consumer applications.
Their range is very short, but the mostly unused spectrum allows to reach a very high speed using 800MHz simultaneously.
5G and security
Many people adhere to a conspiracy theory that 5G poses a risk to human health. However, there is no concrete evidence of such a hazard.
Studies over the years suggest that cellular radiation is not particularly dangerous. Although the amount of data to study the effects of 5G specifically is still small, nothing suggests that this new network would be more dangerous than the previous ones.
Several studies also show that millimetre waves do not penetrate properly human skin. At a higher level than the 5G network, they can slightly warm objects. But at the level used by 5G networks, there’s no noticeable effect.
How to use the 5G on a smartphone?
The latest smartphones are compatible with the 5G. This is for example the case of the iPhone 12.
On Android, devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 Pro are also ready for this new network. All smartphones that will be marketed in the future will logically be 5G compatible.
5G in France
The 5G was one of the last countries in Europe to launch 5G. The telecommunications regulator, Arcep, opened access to the frequency spectrum in October 2020. Operators then announced their initial deployments between November and December 2020, after having split the frequencies from 3.4 to 3.8 GHz.
In total, Orange, SFR, Bouygues and Free spent 2.8 billion for a total of 11 blocks of 10 megahertz spectrum. They were forced by the Arcep to launch 5G services in at least two cities by the end of 2020. Subsequently, they committed to deploy 3,000 sites by 2022, 8,000 sites by 2024 and 10,500 sites by 2025.
The operator Free Mobile launched its services in December 2020and already has 5255 active sites across the country. It is therefore able to cover 40% of the population, especially in small towns and rural areas.
Free uses 700 MHz low band frequencies and 3.5 GHz mid-band frequencies for its 5G network. It therefore combines wide coverage and good indoor reception with very high speeds.
On his side, Bouygues launched its 5G services on 1 December and already covers 67 cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants. In total, the operator covers more than 1,000 municipalities. By the end of 2021, it hopes to cover the entire territory. Its network is based on the 3.5 GHz and 2.1 GHz bands.
At LICO, 5G services were available in 120 French cities at the end of December 2020. The operator in the red square began its deployment in Nice in November.
I mean, come on, Orange launched its 5G services in 160 municipalities by the end of 2020. The incumbent operator started with the cities of Nice, Marseille, Le Mans, Angers and Clermont-Ferrand where mobile networks were already saturated.
5G and Big Data
5G represents many opportunities for Big Data, but also new challenges. Its high speed and low latency will simplify the collection of data from a variety of sources.
This new network will also make it possible to capture data in real time faster and more reliably, which could prove very useful as the IoT is expected to generate 90 zettabytes of data by 2025. The 5G also allows many devices and sensors to be supported simultaneously, and thus to collect their data.
Data analysis will also benefit from this innovation. While previous mobile networks were focused on cloud centralisation, 5G is moving towards edge computing and data processing at the edge of the network, directly at the source. This will facilitate real-time data analysis, which is particularly important for autonomous vehicles…
5G and artificial intelligence
5G’s gonna power the artificial intelligence. There it is again, the AI will no longer be centralized in the Cloudbut distributed at the edge of the network or directly to the connected devices.
Many exciting applications are emerging thanks to the combination of these two technologies. AI and 5G could, for example, enable the rise of “virtual humans” capable of interacting with the user in real time to provide advice or companionship. Verizon is already working on this “digital human” technology in its 5G labs.
IBM has partnered with Samsung to develop mobile devices capable of generating alerts for the fire department or the police by instantly detecting risky situations.
The IA and 5G devices incorporated in buildings, cities or vehicles could make complex decisions based on the data. A smart camera could, for example, order actions based on the images it captures. For example, an image sensor built into a vehicle could use the AI to detect an obstacle on the road and share this data with other cars via the 5G. Cognizant is working on such innovations.
Another case of use is that of “Artificial Intelligence of Objects, or AIoT.. In the field of home surveillance, for example, connected cameras will be able to transfer multiple video streams to the Cloud via 5G very quickly, independently of fixed Internet access.
This new mobile network will also allow chatbots acceleration and vocal assistants. It will also facilitate massive data collection, which can be used to train Machine Learning models more effectively.
5G and Cloud Computing
The 5G is going to turn the Cloud upside down as we know it. Data transfer to the cloud for storage and analysis will benefit from massive acceleration due to low latency and greatly increased throughput.
All services and all applications based Cloud will take advantage of the benefits of 5G. Their performance will be improved.
We can expect, for example, a democratization of access to virtual machines via the Cloud. Remote workers will be able to access Cloud services via their mobile devices through faster and faster hotspots.
However, by allowing data to be processed at the edge of the network, directly on the devices capturing the data, 5G could also represent The end of Cloud Computing for the benefit of Edge Computing…
The future of 5G
After years of waiting, 5G is finally accessible to the general public. French operators, as everywhere else in the world, have started to roll out their networks. The most recent smartphones are compatible.
This is just the beginning, as this new network will allow the development of new technologies such as autonomous cars, connected objects, remote surgery or industrial IoT.
For the first time, the mobile internet could become faster than fixed internet. A real change of habit is on the horizon.
Although 5G is not yet democratized, the telecom industry is already looking to the future. The next step is 6G…which will operate at frequencies above 100 GHz…