As the world advances towards the next generation of communication networks, there is a pressing need for new technology solutions, architectures, and standards. This evolution of communication networks is set to facilitate many compelling business and consumer use cases & accelerate huge investment in networks infrastructure, applications, and devices.
The latest next generation of wireless technologies, 5G networks, promise an era of ubiquitous, secure, and high-capacity radio networks. With extremely low latency levels, high energy efficiency, and a comprehensive Gbps capacity, the applications of 5G technology extend to a plethora of industries and fields beyond traditional telecom. Some of the exciting 5G applications include self-driving vehicles, VR/AR, smart manufacturing, telehealth services, smart cities, and many more.
According to Ericsson’s Mobility Report, by 2023, the number of 5G subscriptions will cross the 1bn mark, and 5G will cover 20% of the global population.
Figure 1: Forecast number of 5G connections worldwide from 2019 to 2025 (in billions)
Figure 2: Global spending on 5G mobile infrastructure in 2019 & 2021 (in billion US dollars)
International Telecommunication Union’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) defines three significant areas of usage and applications as part of its 5G initiative:
The entire ecosystem of 5G comprises of a transformed telecom core, radio, and OSS to support new requirements. This non-standardized system involves concepts like network slicing, a virtualized cloud-based core, new radio technologies, and end-to-end management and orchestration to facilitate automation.
Further, they can be grouped into two broad categories viz.:
Network Slicing is a virtual networking architecture based on software-based automation which allows the creation of multiple virtual independent end-to-end logical systems running on shared physical infrastructure. It is one of the most ingenious aspects of 5G architecture, which lets operators provide portions of their network for specific customer uses cases- Smart home, Smart Manufacturing, Connected cars, and many more.
Some of the benefits of network slicing are:
5G employs a virtually distributed, layered security design and wireless technology to create a highly secure, resilient, and agile system which comprises of:
5G technology promises transformative applications, new services, and seamless end-user experience for industries and users alike with improved network performance and reliability. However, despite the potential benefits, 5G networks are still evolving, and operators are skeptical about the ROI - given the heavy investment needed to deploy them.
Here are some of the key challenges that are to be addressed before 5G networks are widely adopted:
All major technology-focused countries in the world are working on early 5G network trials, and 5G testbeds as competition turns fierce to secure 5G leadership globally.
According to a report by CTIA, here are the top 5G-ready countries as ranked on 5G Readiness Index by Analysys Mason to determine which countries were in the best position to win the race to 5G. Some of the key factors on which these countries were evaluated are spectrum availability—including low-, mid-, and high-band, industry commitment, government initiatives & support, and their pro-5G infrastructure country policies.
As per a report by Global Mobile Supplier’s Association, As on May 2019, 59 countries in the world are formally considering introducing certain spectrum bands for 5G services, having consultations/have reserved 5G spectrum allocations.
5G is set to enhance connectivity across communication networks and enable faster data transfer speeds. Thus, it has the potential to creates tremendous opportunity for a plethora of industries and disruption across applications currently powered by traditional networks.
Let us discuss the applications of 5G technologies across some of the sectors:
5G technology is not just about increased speed for your mobile data. It promises a plethora of transformative services, revolutionary applications, and business opportunities. Along with technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, AR & VR and blockchain, 5G represents an increased economic opportunity and would power the world towards a new age of digital economy.
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