Mobile Technology Evolution
Revving up for 5G Technology!
07 May 2019
The mobile technology world is buzzing with excitement over the next big development in the wireless industry, 5G, or 5th Generation. As consumers demand faster speeds and more data access, North American operators have been busily preparing their networks for the first devices to support 5G technology. Operating at much higher frequencies than existing 4G technologies, 5G is showing off with reduced lag time and data speeds that make 4G seem like dial up.
5G technology is being implemented in two different frequency categories. Frequency Range 1 will operate in the sub 6 GHz range. This type of 5G technology will work very similarly to existing 4G networks in that the frequency range (450 MHz to 6 GHz) lends itself more easily to mobile devices, and is important for networks to maintain emergency call capabilities. The potential data speeds can still be up to 2.5 times faster than current 4G devices.
5G really pulls away from its predecessors and shines, however, in the Frequency Range 2 implementation. This type of 5G operates in the 24-52 GHz (or millimeter wave) range. At these much higher frequencies, amazing results can be obtained including potential data speeds in the Gigabit/s range. That's faster than cable internet and potentially 100 times as fast as current 4G! The tradeoff for such high speeds and low latency is short range and the inability to penetrate physical objects. The types of devices that will best utilize millimeter range 5G will either be fixed devices with access to specific network resources or mobile devices anchored with 4G technology to address the mobility issue.
To accommodate some of the challenges related to short range millimeter wave operation, network operators are densifying their networks by placing numerous multi-antenna 5G cells onto existing structures. Also, on the network side, the base stations will employ beamforming techniques to calculate the most effective route for the radio waves to reach devices. With the complexity on the network side coupled with the cost of the additional 5G cells to densify the network, 5G is likely to be a luxury initially only available in densely populated areas that justify the network structure cost.
On the device side, manufacturers are, of course, eager to supply devices that will allow the subscription base to take advantage of the high-speed capabilities and further the types of device used in this connected world to manage our ever-busy lifestyles. As devices are in the design and preparation phase now, a strong support network for testing capability is critical.
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For more than 20 years Intertek has been involved in testing the ever-changing mobile technology with several large-scale wireless providers. The 5G future is bright and we look forward to adding 5G testing to our capabilities soon.
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