Networks Europe March/April 2019 - Page 49

WIRELESS NETWORKS By Sarah Mills, Network Operator Sector Director, SSE Enterprise Telecoms The first generation of mobile networks, introduced in the 1980s, could only carry voice. Since then, network capabilities have steadily increased. The second generation, 2G, brought new digital services such as text and image sharing, while the third generation, 3G, introduced video calling and mobile data. Most recently, 4G was developed to support mobile Internet and higher speeds for video streaming and gaming. The latest evolution in mobile networks is 5G, which is set to be much faster. The phenomenon will open up entirely new use cases for mobile data in business allowing for a quicker, more efficient way of working, travelling and consuming data. Thanks to its speed and consistency, many expect 5G to revolutionise industries in a way not too dissimilar to the way the rise of the automobile and telephone have. But how, when and why? The Societal benefits of 5G Speed, speed and more speed. 5G will be significantly faster than 4G. It will also have much lower latency, meaning there will be little delay or lag when using mobile and Internet- connected devices. From a business perspective, this is essential for next-generation technology enhancements such as connected cars, smart medical devices and smart cities. In a nutshell, if 5G delivers everything it promises to, many expect its introduction to underpin the fourth industrial revolution, where everything is connected, processed and digitised. The technical benefits of 5G 5G will also have a greater capacity, enabling networks to cope with high-volume applications immediately, from virtual reality to the Internet of Things (IoT) and HD video streaming. For businesses that rely on fast and reliable network connectivity between multiple sites and data centres, 5G will open doors to capabilities they never knew existed. 5G will provide: • • • Flexibility 5G networks promise to be more flexible – network slicing allows a physical network to be divided into multiple virtual networks, so users can engage the right ‘slice’ depending on their immediate requirements. Reliability 5G is expected to be much more reliable, meaning no dropped calls or always-available connectivity, which will allow more ‘critical’ use cases such as those related to digital health. Greater capacity 5G will have greater capacity, meaning networks will be able to cope better with many high-demand applications all at once. 49 5G is will revolutionise the way we connect to mobile networks and consume data at higher speeds Example use cases While 5G connectivity is expected to unlock the ability to create, deliver and use services that are yet to be invented, it’s also expected to deliver tangible benefits to existing industries in the medium term. Some anticipated outcomes of 5G technology include: • • • • Rural innovation Many countries, including the UK, are hoping that 5G will better connect rural communities, allowing more people to start businesses from home, and opening up other new opportunities. Increased productivity A key benefit of 5G could be helping businesses work more quickly and more efficiently, therefore saving costs and increasing revenue, assisting many businesses as they move to more flexible working models. Through having access to this new technology, businesses will have access to a fast and reliable Internet connection. Reduced costs The shift from hardware to software-based network environments will bring about lower overheads for mobile operators. Those savings will, in turn, be able to be passed on to business customers. Tailored networks With network slicing, it will be possible for a business to practically own their own private 5G network, precisely set up according to its specific business needs. 5G will certainly have much greater capacity across a much wider range of radio spectrum, but it will also use that spectral resource more intelligently, assigning only the resources necessary for each application. Making the technology a reality Making 5G a reality requires deep, robust aggregation of fronthaul and backhaul. Fibre networks will effectively act as the bedrock for 5G services. Initial projections of 5G deployments by 2020 may be somewhat overhyped. Instead, it could be 2022 or beyond before we have widespread 5G coverage in the UK. This is because it’s essential not to rush deployment, ensuring the appropriate foundations are in place to make 5G the mobile experience many are expecting. A vital component of the launch of 5G services is high- capacity fibre connectivity, which must provide fast and reliable backhaul to the core networks and masts. This is required to increase ten-fold as the UK prepares for 5G. It will be significantly different than current 4G technology and will operate on substantially higher frequencies with increased channel bandwidths. n