5G will be the most transformative tech of our lifetime. I will try and explain a few terms to demystify the landscape.
Millimeter Wave: An entirely new section of spectrum never used for mobile services. Millimeter waves are broadcast at frequencies between 30 and 300 gigahertz, compared to the bands below 6 GHz . They are called millimeter waves because they vary in length from 1 to 10 mm, compared to the radio waves that serve today’s smartphones, which measure tens of centimeters in length
Carrier Aggregation: Uses multiple frequency bands together and leverages them together. This means a user can simultaneously be connected (via device) with both 700 Mhz and 1900 MHz frequency of the spectrum and hence can better use all the network resources. Enables increased data speeds (more data to download or upload at a given instant) because there is more space (on the spectrum) for traffic to move around.
256 QAM and 4×4 MIMO: Quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) is the name of a family of digital modulation methods and a related family of analog modulation methods widely used in modern telecommunications to transmit information. With this approach the carrier is able to pack a lot of more information in the same space without loosing on quality. This leads to speed and efficiency. Combine this with the 4×4 MIMO (multiple inputs multiple outputs) – which provides the ability layer the network (stacking up in another dimension) and also doubles the smart phone antennas – the amount of data that can be carried over at any instant along with the speed multiples many fold.
Full Duplex: With full duplex, a transceiver (within a cellphone) will be able to transmit and receive data at the same time while on the same frequency, doubling the capacity of wireless networks at their most fundamental physical layer
Small Cells: Portable miniature base stations that use very little power to operate and can be placed every 250 meters or so throughout cities. To prevent signals from being dropped, carriers may blanket a city with thousands of small cell stations to form a dense network that acts like a relay team, handing off signals like a baton and routing data to users at any location.
The features and benefits of 5G will evolve over time, with transformative changes coming over the next several years as standards for eMBB, Critical IoT, and Massive IoT use cases are developed by 3GPP. Use cases for 5G fall into three broad categories: enhanced mobile broadband, massive IoT, and critical IoT.
- Enhanced broadband will provide higher capacity and faster speeds for many of today’s common use cases. This includes fixed wireless access, video surveillance, enhanced experiences in brick-and-mortar retail locations, mobile phones and others.
- Massive IoT will support the scaling of machine-type communications. This solution will support health monitoring, wearable communication, fleet/asset management, inventory optimization, smart home, health monitoring, wearable communications and more.
- Critical IoT will enable new use cases that require ultra-reliable, low-latency communications. It is a geographically-targeted solution for smart factories, smart grids, telemedicine, traffic management, remote and autonomous drones and robotics, mobile bio-connectivity, interconnected transport, autonomous vehicles and more.