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What You Don’t Know You Don’t Realize In 5G


5G

This may be the primary during a long series of thought pieces around 5G, with the goal of dispelling the confusion and misinformation around the technology. There’s tons of conflicting information around 5G and what it does and doesn’t do. Many of the people within the industry, even, who mention 5G don’t fully understand the technology, and this lack of understanding spreads to others. My goal is to expand people’s understanding of what 5G is, how it works today, how it'll add the longer term and why it’s such an enormous deal. While some people overstate the potential impact of 5G, I will be able to plan to distinguish the realistic expectations from and therefore the ones that are pie within the sky.

5G Fundamentals

One of the elemental misconceptions about 5G is that 5G may be a new cellular band. this is often fundamentally wrong. The name for 5G was set by the specification setting organization, the 3GPP. The 3GPP is comprised of the various companies involved within the building of 5G hardware and software. The organization has been around since 3G and helped to make the 4G specification that we now know as LTE. New specifications are unrolled through successive releases that are shaped by 3GPP members. the primary one to incorporate 5G was Release 15, also referred to as 5G NR (5G New Radio—a new way of handling cellular radio communications).

This 5G New Radio can operate at just about any frequency from 600 MHz to 40 GHz today, including the present ones that we already use for cellular communications. Companies like Sprint and T-Mobile already do that with a number of their 5G spectra, so some consumers can already see the advantages of 5G with none new spectrum. Using 5G during this spectrum is usually mentioned as ‘Sub-6GHz’ because it behaves in a very different manner than the upper band's people seem to accompany 5G. Ironically, the bulk of 5G deployments will primarily utilize spectrum within the Sub-6GHz bands. this suggests that a number of the fears around 5G are unfounded—these cellular base stations operate at an equivalent frequency as 4G networks, and possibly even more efficiently and safely. If you check out most of the networks rolling out immediately globally, they primarily utilize Sub6-GHz networks. that's to not say they can't or won't use the upper bands, which are called “mmWave,” for the high frequency and short length between their waves. More thereon later.

5G NSA Versus SA

Part of the 3GPP Release 15 specification allows for the creation of an NSA and SA specification. What does this mean? Well, first it's nothing to try to to with the American National Security agency and everything to try to to with deploying 5G quickly. Many members of the 3GPP lobbied for quicker thanks to getting 5G deployed in 2019 rather than 2020, which resulted during a two-step process for 5G network rollout. the primary step is understood as NSA, or non-standalone, where cellular operators like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile can utilize the bulk of their 4G infrastructure to work their 5G networks. While this suggests operators will need to spend less money building 5G networks initially, it also means early 5G devices will need to be simultaneously connected to 4G and 5G. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering the very fact that any new cellular technology will have limited coverage initially and need to rely heavily on the ‘older’ G for coverage. Additionally, this suggests that cellular operators can combine their 4G and 5G together to urge even faster speeds, with technologies like EN-DC. EN-DC may be a doozy of an industry technical acronym that stands for E-UTRAN New Radio – Dual Connectivity (E-UTRAN is that the technical term for 4G LTE). EN-DC allows you to combine 4G and 5G together to enhance both upload and download speeds, which conserves 4G bandwidth while using 5G. Long term, EN-DC will subside valuable as more 5G coverage and spectrum becomes available.

The second step, SA, predictably stands for Standalone 5G. With SA 5G, the whole network, from the cloud all the thanks to the radio head, is compliant with the 5G NR SA spec for infrastructure. In other words, it's a network that operates independently of the 4G network infrastructure, which will deliver fully on the guarantees of lower latency, higher bandwidth and new technologies like network slicing. While an NSA 5G network can theoretically have faster speeds and lower latency, and that they do, the improvements aren't significant enough to be considered a real generational leap. NSA 5G is basically an enhancement to the prevailing devices (phones), while SA 5G will enable all of the next-generation devices and services promised to return with 5G.

5G Reality Versus 5G Hype

There is tons of hype around 5G, which is to be expected of any big technology inflection point. The specifications for 5G in Release 16, Release 17 and beyond, involve tons of latest features that will enable tons of latest use cases. The expected richness of those upcoming releases is in large part liable for 5G’s hype. the truth is that it's hard to predict next-generation use cases beyond what we've today. only a few could have predicted that 4G would end in services like Uber, GrubHub or Apple Pay. tons of its guesswork. Some are banking on immersive technologies like AR and VR, while others are banking on autonomous driving, drones, etc. Others are banking on manufacturing and automation. Since 5G will operate in numerous different bands, there'll be use cases that simply weren’t possible before.

For example, mmWave 5G is often wont to deliver home broadband referred to as FWA or Fixed Wireless Access. Verizon already does this with help from Samsung and its 5G network, and may now deliver accelerates to 600 Mbps without having to run fiber to people’s homes. this suggests faster home internet speeds, to more people, at a lower cost than before—a net positive for everybody. Another use case that wasn’t possible before is the ability to completely automate drones for surveying and inspection. Currently, companies like DroneInch work with industries to try to semi-autonomous drone inspections of cellular towers and oil and gas infrastructure at a fraction of the value and risk of an actual human having to try to to it. 5G would enable higher quality, instantaneous streaming of images and more precise real-time controls via its low latency and network slicing. If you’d wish to learn more, we wrote a paper two years ago about future investment in 5G infrastructure and potential use cases.

The reality of today’s 5G networks is that a lot of them are still in their infancy. for instance, AT&T and T-Mobile both launched limited mmWave deployments first, and are now rolling out low-band 5G with 850 MHz and 600 MHz, respectively. Verizon remains pushing out mmWave, but it'll also be got to deploy Sub-6 GHz. Sprint is an outlier because it's nearing the completion of its merger with T-Mobile, who plans to use Sprint’s mid-band 5G additionally to its 600 MHz low-band and 28 GHz mmWave. Long term, all carriers will likely deploy low, mid and high-band 5G to deliver a comprehensive 5G user experience with great speeds and coverage.

5G mmWave Health Concerns

There has been a particular amount of fearmongering around 5G, particularly when it involves the mmWave bands, 28GHz, and 39GHz (future bands include 24GHz, 27GHz, and possibly 70Ghz). tons of fear comes from groups that have little to no knowledge about the technology itself. Some claim mmWave signals can cause cancer and other ailments. Last, some are trying to tie the spread of coronavirus to the launch of 5G networks—which is sort of the stretch, even for conspiracy theorists. 24 GHz is especially contentious thanks to concerns that it'll interfere with weather satellites and hurricane tracking. This issue must be sorted out and put to rest—that said, I’m unsure the concerns are warranted since most hurricanes form off the coast where there's no 5G signal. Furthermore, 5G mmWave doesn't propagate alright at the facility levels you see on earth (both a blessing and a curse). generally, mmWave signals don't carry very far unless you employ a big amount of power, and therefore the need for antennas means most 5G small cells use phased or HBF (holographic beamformer) arrays. These arrays transmit power never exceeds 2.5W (the aggregate sum of all the antennas in an array). With a phased array, employed by many infrastructure vendors, you’re watching somewhere around 12.5 mW per antenna element—almost nothing in terms of power level. The United States government had to use a 100 KW beam at 95 GHz for people to feel anything. you'll see a replica of the complete report here, but here’s a snippet:

“Human effects testing on the large-scale version of Active Denial Technology has included quite 13,000 exposures on volunteer subjects both in static demonstrations and in realistic operational assessments. Both laboratory research and full-scale test results demonstrated that there's only a 1/10th of 1% chance of injury from a System 1 or System 2 exposure. Research on the security and effectiveness of 95 gigahertz millimeter wave directed energy has been peer-reviewed in numerous professional journals and independently reviewed by the Human Effects Advisory Panel.”

That system had a 0.1% chance of injury and didn't penetrate beyond 1/64th of an in. under the skin. This fact throws into doubt the claim that 5G could cause brain cancer or other cancers. the facility levels of most 5G base stations are tens of thousands of times less than what the United States government was using in these tests. the thought that 5G mmWaves are even remotely dangerous to use is quite a stretch. In fact, if you go and appearance at the health risks of 5G overall, including mmWave and Sub-6GHz, they seem to be less than the present 3G and 4G networks. The French National Frequency Agency (the French like the FCC) performed tests to match 4G to 5G. The testing showed that the worst-case scenario for 5G is slightly worse than the best-case scenario for 4G when it involves radiation. The French are known for taking health concerns very seriously and eager to get right down to the facts of the difficulty. If this is often France’s take, it's quite clear that not only is 5G safe—it’s likely safer than 4G.

Final Thoughts

This piece is a component of a series from me about 5G. Next, I will be able to cover the various sorts of the spectrum and the way they behave. Additionally, I will be able to expand on what people should expect from 5G networks today, next year and beyond. I will be able to also delve more deeply into the small print around network slicing and other features unique to 5G. I hope this text cleared up a number of the larger misconceptions surrounding 5G. One thing is for sure—while we’ve heard tons of individuals mention 5G, only a few have actually attempted to elucidate it.
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