By David Witkowski

Over the last few years IEEE Future Networks has developed content, events, and educational offerings that sought to highlight the need for technical experts to engage with their local communities to address the slow pace of deployment of 5G and infrastructure and services. For those residing in the U.S., now is a critical time for engagement.

A series of public meetings will take place across the country that will affect how more than $40 billion will be granted for expansion of affordable broadband access in America. IEEE Future Networks thinks that IEEE members are uniquely qualified to participate in these discussions and make recommendations on smart use of this wealth of government funding, or to sniff out bad or disreputable attempts at receiving this funding.

Using the background and information and links provided below, we encourage IEEE members in the US, D.C., and territories to volunteer to get involved. Unfortunately, there is no master calendar of all of the public meetings that will take place, so we encourage you to be proactive and contact your local broadband coordinators for more information.

 

Background:

In late 2021 the U.S. Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which included $65 billion for broadband support and expansion. The IIJA funds broadband affordability, and deployments for tribal land, middle-mile networks, and last-mile networks. The latter effort is the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program which will provide $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) administers all IIJA broadband programs under the moniker “BroadbandUSA”. In turn, NTIA is working with the broadband offices for states and territories to develop strategic action plans. Broadband offices must conduct stakeholder outreach events, called Local Coordination events, typically at the county level.

Given the size and scope of the BEAD Program, there is a great need for technical expertise at Local Coordination events, because most local governments do not have staff with broadband expertise. IEEE members residing in the U.S., D.C., and territories can help by contacting their state/territorial broadband offices and volunteering to help with Local Coordination events.

Links:

--

David Witkowski is Co-Chair of the INGR Deployment Working Group in IEEE Future Networks, a member of the Board of Expert Advisors for the California Emerging Technology Fund, and of the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s Connected Communities Forum. His business, Oku Solutions, provides professional services consulting to the broadband telecommunications industry and local governments.

Beyond providing speedy cell phone service, 5G technology promises unprecedented new applications. Machine-to-machine communication and the Internet of Things continue to expand, competing with cell phone users for internet throughput. In fact, the Ericsson Mobility Report forecasts an increase in mobile network traffic by 77 percent by 2026, to a global level of 226 exabytes every month.

How can wireless communications technologies evolve to meet this ever-increasing demand for connectivity? The answer may reside with a technology known as massive multiple input, multiple output (MIMO).

Wireless communication depends upon electromagnetic waves carrying information from a transmitter located in a base station to one or more receivers. A base station contains three parts that work together to send and receive a wireless signal: A baseband unit determines which frequency to generate. A radio unit then generates the signal. And the base station antenna radiates the signal.

In current wireless technology, the signal propagates in all directions from the transmitter—often a cell phone tower—in a “spray.” The energy from the signal dissipates as distance increases. So the fixed location of the base station determines its coverage area, or cell.

Consumer demand for greater throughput and data speed necessitates technology that can boost network capacity. Increasing the number of antennas in the base station can address this demand. But the signals that each antenna emits can interfere with each other, causing noise. Noise means disruption in the performance of the network.

A technology that improves this ratio—minimizing noise while boosting signal strength—will improve the quality of connectivity for all users. Enter massive MIMO.

INGR 2021Ed Banner V2 MassiveMIMO

 

Movement from MIMO to Massive MIMO

MIMO is an antenna technology that focuses the energy of a signal specifically at a receiver. The technology involves complex mathematical algorithms that combine the strength of the radiation from multiple antennas.

Typically, a user is not standing directly in the path of a base station. The antenna emits a signal that must reflect off of various objects until it reaches the receiver, such as a person holding a 5G-equipped mobile phone. Traditional wireless technology involves trying to minimize the degradation of the signal as it bounces off of those various objects.

By contrast, MIMO technology features multiple antennas that use even more reflection paths. These paths combine to create a communication channel that carries even more information. However, increasing the number of antennas alone does not improve performance. Engineers must configure the antennas properly.

Spatial Streaming

With MIMO, multiple antennas carry multiple data streams over the same frequency. The transmission band subdivides into several different channels, or spaces, to carry the data.

The data sets, or spatial streams, remain separated despite travelling together. This technique, also called spatial multiplexing, maintains the integrity of the information. The receiver reconstructs the information mathematically and presents it to the end user in a way that makes sense.

As an analogy, a garden hose can deliver a certain amount of water to a spot of land. Two garden hoses double the amount of water. The water finishes at the same spot but takes two different, parallel channels to get there. Increasing the number of garden hoses has a direct influence on how much water the spot receives.

Beamforming

Spatial multiplexing works in conjunction with another technology particular to 5G: 3D beamforming. Rather than spreading a signal in all directions from an antenna, beamforming organizes the signals from various antennas and directs information straight to an end user. The more antennas that radiate a signal, the narrower and more powerful the beam.

Multiple Users

Paths do not have to originate from the same base station. Multiple antennas at multiple base stations can aggregate signals to meet the same user. Furthermore, multiuser MIMO communicates with multiple devices simultaneously instead of users having to wait their turn to access the network.

Move Toward Massive MIMO

Essentially, massive MIMO extends the capabilities of MIMO and has to do with the number of antennas involved with signal transmission and reception. There is no distinct classification of the number of antennas that delineate where MIMO leaves off and massive MIMO begins.

Antennas can organize in arrays, meaning multiple antennas connect and work together as a single antenna. Arrays greatly increase the amount of throughput—how much data transfers from source to destination in the system.

A 4G network takes advantage of MIMO in smaller multiple antenna arrays, say up to 8 × 8. But massive MIMO promises to live up to its moniker in the 5G ecosystem, with a massive MIMO antenna array as large as 256 × 256.

INGR 2021Ed Banner V2 MassiveMIMO

 

Signal Processing That Enables Massive MIMO

Conveniently, 5G technology can make use of a wide range of frequencies in wireless communication. Scientists measure these frequencies in hertz (Hz), referring to the number of wave cycles per second.

Sharing Frequencies with 4G

A 5G network can share infrastructure with a 4G LTE network in certain frequency bands. For example, T-Mobile claimed to deploy the first 5G network in the United States, based on its 600 MHz spectrum. These lower-frequency waves can penetrate objects and travel long distances. So low-band 600 MHz spectrum works effectively to provide coverage indoors and bandwidth over a wide area.

Low band, encompassing all frequencies less than 1 GHz, is one range of frequencies that a 4G and 5G network can share. The other range encompasses midband frequencies, generally between 1 GHz and 2.6 GHz. Engineers built much of the 4G LTE infrastructure with an eye toward converting to 5G networking.

Massive MIMO and Millimeter Wave Frequencies

But because existing low-band and midband spectrum already is reaching its physical limitations, the Federal Communications Commission has made available high-band frequencies. These frequencies, ranging upward from 24 GHz, are called millimeter wave (mmWave) bands. These extremely high frequencies deliver download speeds of multiple gigabits per second and can handle large numbers of users simultaneously.

But mmWave bands attenuate, meaning their power dissipates quickly over distance, a phenomenon in physics known as the inverse square law. The inverse square law states that as the receiver moves away from the transmitter, energy drops as a square of distance or as the square of frequency.

Thus, a 5G network operating on mmWave frequencies can benefit greatly from implementing massive MIMO. Without an antenna array to focus the energy, a base station would require massive amounts of power to transmit a viable signal. Massive MIMO provides a way to focus energy, analogous to a laser beam, right at a user.

INGR 2021Ed Banner V2 MassiveMIMO

 

Pros and Cons of Massive MIMO

The implementation of 5G massive MIMO involves an engineering trade-off. Multiple antennas do provide spectral efficiency, providing end users with greater bandwidth and speed. However, multiple antennas also require an increase in energy to power them.

Disadvantages of Massive MIMO

One disadvantage of massive MIMO involves this energy consumption. Calculating the trajectory of multiple signals both stationary and on the move requires highly complex computing, which carries an energy penalty.

Also, unless 5G massive MIMO is operating with mmWave frequencies, an antenna array can rapidly become large and unwieldy. The smaller wavelengths associated with mmWave bands allow a device to pack multiple antennas into a smaller area.

But longer wavelengths currently associated with 4G LTE would necessitate unwieldy, large devices to host antenna arrays. A typical vertical panel operating as an antenna in a contemporary cellular network stands around five feet tall and eight inches wide. A four-MIMO setup using low-band or midband frequencies would require four of such panels.

Another concern is cost. 5G Massive MIMO antennas are relatively expensive, which can drive up the cost of 5G deployment. The development of new materials and antenna designs using graphene and metamaterials may help reduce the size and cost of Massive MIMO in the future.

Advantages of Massive MIMO

Massive MIMO contributes to the capacity of the entire 5G network. Multiple antennas enhance throughput and improve signal strength. When parallel streams of information combine, the user experiences improved performance.

Furthermore, massive MIMO’s multiple antennas minimize the signal loss associated with attenuation. Massive MIMO solves the issue of poor coverage near a cell’s edge by transmitting a more powerful signal. Thus the end user’s experience becomes more uniform and stable when connecting to a massive MIMO 5G network.

Similarly, beamforming technology in 5G reduces noise and allows the signal to follow users on the move. The complex mathematics involved with integrating and focusing the signal provide excellent coverage, even if the 5G receiver is not stationery.

INGR 2021Ed Banner V2 MassiveMIMO

 

Massive MIMO and the Future of 5G Technology

A Global Industry Analysts report indicates that the global market for massive MIMO technologies could reach nearly $22 billion by 2027. The lightning speeds, capacity for greater throughput, and spectrum efficiency of massive MIMO will help power burgeoning digital technologies.

Ease of 5G Rollout

The Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communication, virtual reality applications, smart cities, and autonomous vehicles all rely on instantaneous, powerful wireless communication.

Rollouts in 5G mmWave technology benefit from massive MIMO. Massive antenna arrays intensify the signal, minimizing attenuation that a signal encounters at frequencies above 27 GHz.

Reducing this signal strength loss means that communications companies can deploy fewer sites. Rather than having a radio and antenna at every light pole, for example, massive MIMO can reduce deployments, depending on the strength of the antenna array.

Massive MIMO and Safety

And because of the nature of spatial streaming and beamforming, only a person with a 5G device receives the signal. Unlike current wireless systems, whose signals spray throughout the cell, massive MIMO technology focuses energy directly at 5G users. Little collateral radiation affects other people nearby.

A group of experts within IEEE known as the Committee on Man and Radiation (COMAR) studies health and safety issues related to electromagnetic fields. COMAR does not establish safety standards, but it monitors issues within a safety standard set by IEEE in 1991.

This standard, known as IEEE C95.1-2019, establishes safety levels for human exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields. COMAR has determined there is nothing inherently dangerous about 5G or massive MIMO technology. Rather, any potential danger lies in intensity and length of time of exposure, much like standing in front of a heat lamp or frequency modulation transmitter.

Environmental Impact

Because massive MIMO relies on beamforming, its use minimizes stray radiation in the environment. Beamforming focuses the signal in a specific direction: think laser pointer instead of flashlight. Thus, massive MIMO actually reduces the amount of radiated energy that dissipates into the environment.

Massive MIMO arrays also improve connectivity while simultaneously requiring less power consumption than other technologies, as studies have shown. For example, a 2018 Ghent University study explored the characteristics of a 256-antenna array researchers built. The study found that their massive MIMO base station provided two hundred times more capacity than a 4G reference network for the same coverage, while consuming eight times less power.

Other researchers have found similar energy efficiency models using massive MIMO. During low-traffic loads, parts of the antenna array can switch off, saving power and increasing efficiency.

INGR 2021Ed Banner V2 MassiveMIMO

 

Massive MIMO and the Future of Connectivity

 Find out more about the future of 5G, massive MIMO deployment, and other burgeoning 5G technologies by exploring IEEE’s 5G initiative.

Interested in learning more about technology roadmaps? IEEE Roadmaps provides guidance and structure to support technical roadmap development and activities. Joining this initiative will provide you the opportunity to discuss common challenges and objectives while continuing progress towards your roadmap goals. Connect with other industry, academia, and governmental experts providing this critical resource for the advancement of technology.

Unlike previous generations of wireless technology, 5G promises to be about more than just smartphones. More than 30 percent of countries already had 5G availability by February 2021, according to VIAVI Solutions’ report, “The State of 5G.” And 5G’s availability is growing faster than that of its 4G LTE predecessor. Testing a 5G use case in a controlled environment, or 5G testbed, has been an important part of facilitating the massive 5G rollout.

Boasting connectivity, high bandwidth, and low latency, 5G benefits smartphone users. But researchers expect an unprecedented number of other types of devices to connect to a 5G network. This means 5G should be a network of connected machines, not just people.

Excitingly, 5G technology promises unparalleled connectivity for smart machines, augmented and virtual reality applications, and many other innovative uses. Thus, testing these experimental uses before their commercial rollout becomes an important aspect of innovation and entrepreneurship. Small-scale testing before a large rollout of a new use case identifies potential issues and facilitates innovation and entrepreneurship.

IEEE5G6GTestbed Wordmark Horizontal Color RGB

 

Primer on 5G Testbed Workshops

Pilot studies generally evaluate feasibility, cost, and potential problems before scientists embark upon a full-scale project.

Definition of a 5G Testbed

Wireless technologies are no exception. Since the advent of early Wi-Fi network protocols in the mid-1990s, engineers have deployed burgeoning technologies in controlled environments, or testbeds.

Going beyond previous generations of wireless, 5G expands the range of radio frequencies, deploys cloud-based computing, and relies on decentralized computing. These new technologies underpin completely new applications and services.

For example, 5G specifically supports automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) in industrial contexts. That’s because its wide throughput allows the connection of many devices at once.

Engineers test machine-to-machine 5G communication in a 5G testbed environment before a commercial rollout. This allows them to get a sense for how the network is performing in a reasonable approximation of real-world applications.

US Government Investment

Prior to commercial deployment, 5G testbeds within university settings provide workshops to test and track new uses, and universities may receive government funding.

For example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) collaborated with an industry consortium of 28 networking companies and associations. The public-private partnership invested $100 million over seven years to build a set of 5G testbeds in New York and Salt Lake City, Utah. These platforms for advanced wireless research test data-intensive applications in robotics, virtual reality, and traffic safety.

In particular, researchers at Rutgers University, Columbia University, and New York University led a collaboration to test a new generation of technologies. This testbed covered one square mile in West Harlem. The platform, called COSMOS, received a $22.5 million NSF grant to experiment with the low latency, ultrahigh bandwidth, and edge computing that 5G offers.

COSMOS plans to test a range of applications, including cloud-assisted connected vehicles and augmented reality and virtual reality for mobile users. Furthermore, a main goal of COSMOS is to create a cloud-based innovative learning platform for students.

Innovation via 5G Testbeds in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the government announced the 5G Testbeds and Trials Program in 2017, leading to the creation of a national 5G innovation network. The government intended its investment—equivalent to about 1.02 billion US dollars—to stimulate market development and deployment of 5G technology and infrastructure for 5G projects in the United Kingdom.

The government announced six primary testbeds that would receive the first round of funding:

  • 5G RuralFirst—tested spectrum sharing and other networking technologies in hard-to-reach remote areas
  • 5G Smart Tourism—demonstrated virtual reality and augmented reality technologies to enhance visitor experiences at museums and festivals
  • Worcestershire 5G Consortium—used robotics, augmented reality, and data analytics to optimize manufacturing
  • Liverpool 5G Testbed—deployed 5G technology to elderly people living independently to address loneliness and improve communication with hospitals
  • AutoAir—explored 5G technology in autonomous vehicles as well as air and rail transportation
  • 5G Rural Integrated Testbed—connected residents in rural communities and tested drones and machine learning to optimize farming

These fully functional cellular technology facilities help bring solutions out of R&D into early real-world deployment. Companies can thus showcase new applications to grow market opportunities. 

Collaboration with Industry

In another example, a collaboration among industry partners and government to improve communication in mines relied on 5G testbed workshops before rollout. The European Union’s Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems worked with the Swedish telecommunications company Telia to develop, test, and demonstrate the use of 5G technology in a mining environment.

Together with the telecommunications company Ericsson, Telia built a 5G network for the Swedish mining company Boliden AB in the Kankberg mine. The network, which uses robotics and automation to improve productivity and safety, is the world’s first underground network based on 5G new radio technology.

INGR 2021Ed Banner V2 Testbed

 

Available 5G Testbeds Around the World

Countries that have deployed 5G for mobile cell phone users continue to test its application for other use cases. Health, logistics, education, retail, manufacturing, and numerous other industries benefit from robust 5G rollout and emphasis on testing real-use scenarios.

Top Countries for 5G

In December 2020, India launched its first 5G testbed for autonomous navigation systems. The government sanctioned a testbed at the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, which allocated two acres for industries, R&D labs, and academic researchers.

The testbed includes rain simulators and other smart technologies as part of testing autonomous vehicles and other 5G-connected navigation systems. The ultimate goals of the program involve finding applications in aerial and terrestrial transportation, agriculture, and surveillance and other industrial uses.

As a region, Asia leads the world in 5G networks, with the region of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) second. According to the report from VIAVI Solutions, China leads the world with 341 cities with 5G.

The United States leads the American region in terms of 5G deployment. The number of US cities with 5G networks has increased by five times over the past year to 279.

South Korea, the United Kingdom, and Spain round out the top five countries in terms of 5G network availability. More countries are adding 5G deployments, and the past year has seen a 350 percent increase in new cities with deployments.

Spectrum Allocation

As a wider spectrum becomes available for use, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) built a testbed focused on testing measurements surrounding 5G communications. The project aims to optimize the technology that forms the basis for mobile phones, IoT, smart manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, and virtual reality.

The NIST’s 5G Spectrum Sharing Test Bed measures how frequencies can operate without interfering with each other.

And the NIST’s NextG Channel Model Alliance features more than 175 participants from academia, government, and industry globally. It has made its resources publicly available, including data sets and complex models for 5G communications scenarios, ranging from offices to shopping malls to outdoor areas.

IEEE5G6GTestbed Wordmark Horizontal Color RGB 

Tools and Resources for 5G Testbeds

In a recent brainstorming workshop, the International Telecommunication Union, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, and IEEE called for increased collaboration between academia and industry in trying out 5G use cases. In particular, the workshop dealt with including testbeds for vertical applications. A vertical application is unique to a particular function, meeting the customized needs of an organization or industry.

Virtual Testbeds

In 2023, IEEE released its 5G/6G Innovation Testbed, which can operate over the cloud without requirement for physical hardware. IEEE recognized a need to fill in the space of collaborative innovation for 5G and 6G networks and to facilitate the transition of ideas into real technologies that could help better human connectivity. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown inspired IEEE volunteers to conveive of a cloud-based 5G testbed that would allow the industry and research communities to continue to collaborate and innovate without being bound by geography, proprietary technologies, or testing scope. 

The IEEE 5G/6G Innovation Testbed can also connect to the physical hardware of its users or to other testing facilities. This hub-and-spoke model where the iEEE testbed serves as a digital hub to other facilities allows for the potential of Federated testbeds that connect via a standard API.

Federated Model of the 5G Testbed

Currently, most testbeds operate using an isolated facility model. This means a single entity—corporate or academic—owns and operates its own testbed.

Many testbeds center on research. So rather than providing a testing ground for technology, the testbeds exist for research purposes only. Similarly, in some cases, organizations build testbeds to use internally, restricting the facility to organizational use.

With the increasing complexity of technology, testing use cases often need components outside the particular testbed, requiring a framework of collaboration. Thus, a new model of 5G testbed is emerging: the federated testbed.

A federated testbed is a system that allows each individual testbed to maintain its own autonomy while working with others to share technological resources. The challenge is to design a system that respects the intellectual property and autonomy of each site while balancing the need to share technologies to optimize technologies.

Support for 5G Testbed Implementation

Much support for the implementation of 5G testbeds derives from partnerships between academia and industry.

For example, Verizon established a 5G ultrawideband network at a testbed within the University of Michigan. The Mcity test facility sits on 32 acres within the campus research complex and features 16 acres of roads and other traffic infrastructure.

Testing focuses on autonomous vehicles and intelligent transportation. Using cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology, Mcity vehicles communicate with other cars, traffic lights, pedestrians, and emergency vehicles. Furthermore, Mcity features groundbreaking testing systems, such as augmented reality technology that allows virtual 5G-connected vehicles to interact with physical test vehicles in real time.

Similarly, Sprint has opened a testbed in its Curiosity Lab in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. The project is a collaboration among a number of technology partners and researchers at Georgia Tech, working together to develop a smart city within a 500-acre technology park. The city’s entire infrastructure relies on smart technologies.

The emerging technologies include an autonomous passenger shuttle for the 7,500 people who work at the facility and smart light poles and traffic signals. In addition, autonomous drones deliver mail and autonomous lawnmowers take care of the lawns.

INGR 2021Ed Banner V2 Testbed

 

Requirements and Recommendations for Setting Up a 5G Testbed

Perhaps the biggest challenge that companies face in setting up a 5G testbed is obtaining permission to use available radio frequency bands. They need to acquire this permission from the governmental agency responsible for assigning 5G frequencies. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission assigns and coordinates frequencies.

Permissions to Set Up a 5G Testbed

Most telecommunications carriers already have purchased the rights to use available frequencies for their mobile users. That’s why collaboration among industry, academia, and government entities is so important for setting up 5G testbeds. Without carriers, academic researchers lack access to the radio spectrum. Conversely, telecommunications companies that own frequencies need academia so that they can benefit from its researchers’ discoveries.

A 5G testbed could use an unlicensed or lightly licensed band, such as Citizens Broadband Radio Service. But engineers still would need to worry about interfering with licensed users of a particular frequency.

Thus, collaboration with carriers, who already own and license commercial bands, provides an efficient solution.

Expertise for a 5G Testbed

The process for setting up a 5G testbed mirrors that of any researcher trying to win a government research grant. What question is the researcher trying to answer? How will the 5G testbed help test that question? And where is the best source of funding?

Locating an existing 5G testbed will help researchers take advantage of existing spectrum allocations. Alternatively, researchers must seek their own permissions or collaborations with existing owners of radio frequencies.

Since the early days of Wi-Fi, various members of academia have spent their entire careers building testbeds. And 5G provides the next generation of technology to test. It’s critical for the testbed project manager to stay current with the rapid new deployments of 5G use cases and to publish testing results early and meaningfully.

IEEE5G6GTestbed Wordmark Horizontal Color RGB

 

Current Resources on Best Practices for 5G Testbeds

Certainly, 5G technologies are moving fast. It’s vital for stakeholders to access all possible research and keep track of journals and conferences that are reporting 5G testbed results. Use IEEE Future Networks to join a global 5G initiative that connects researchers, scientists, engineers, and policymakers to engage on 5G.

Interested in learning more about technology roadmaps? IEEE Roadmaps provides guidance and structure to support technical roadmap development and activities. Joining this initiative will provide you the opportunity to discuss common challenges and objectives while continuing progress towards your roadmap goals. Connect with other industry, academia, and governmental experts providing this critical resource for the advancement of technology.

Since its inception, mobile networking has existed independently of satellite technology. But the development of 5G architecture holds promise for a new generation of satellite operators to help provide unprecedented connectivity and futuristic applications with a tech focus.

Though satellite internet faces significant challenges in bringing broadband to users on a wide scale, many companies have already begun to deploy it. The development of the 5G satellite spectrum offers a great complement to burgeoning 5G terrestrial connectivity.

INGR 2021Ed Banner V2 Satellite

 

Standards for the 5G Satellite Spectrum

Traditional communication satellites orbit the earth from about twenty-two thousand miles up. Their “geosynchronous orbit” means that geostationary satellites move in synchronicity with the earth, so that the satellite remains directly over one point as the earth rotates. Ground-based antennas point directly at the satellite to receive a signal.

Characteristics of the 5G Satellite

Unlike a geostationary satellite, a 5G satellite circles in a low earth orbit (LEO), generally between three hundred and twelve hundred miles above the earth. These LEO satellites must move almost 2.5 times as fast as geostationary satellites do to remain in orbit. As a result, a low earth orbit satellite remains in contact with a ground transmitter for a much shorter amount of time. To maintain seamless coverage, communication from the ground passes from one LEO satellite to the next across the satellite constellation.

At the same time, the low orbit of a low earth orbit satellite significantly reduces latency compared to its geostationary counterpart. That means an LEO satellite can receive and transmit data much more quickly, which minimizes delay for the end user.

International Agreement on the 5G Satellite Spectrum

Satellites, like all wireless communication, talk to people on the ground through invisible radio frequencies, called “spectrum.” Scientists measure frequencies using hertz, meaning the number of wave cycles per second.

A satellite’s purpose determines the best frequency for it to use. The frequency is an integral part of the satellite’s construction and doesn’t change after launch. Satellites generally transmit on a frequency between 1.5 and 51.5 gigahertz (a gigahertz, or GHz, equals one billion hertz). High-speed broadband operates at the higher end of the spectrum.

Without international standards, one country’s use of the 5G satellite spectrum could interfere with another’s. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), part of the United Nations, coordinates the allocation of frequencies globally. Although it manages global telecommunications, the ITU does not engage in the actual implementation of 5G or other technologies.

For that, a separate consortium called the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) unites seven organizations that develop telecommunications standards worldwide. These organizational partners specify which technologies constitute 5G wireless, aiming for global consistency.

In the United States, the National Telecommunications and Information Agency manages the federal government’s use of the spectrum, while the FCC regulates other uses.

Standardization bodies worldwide are working to integrate 5G new radio (NR) with satellite technology. 5G NR is the new global standard for 5G networks. The 3GPP provides a forum for industry leaders, government bodies, and academic institutions to work together to deploy new frequency bands to accelerate the adoption of 5G networking worldwide.
INGR 2021Ed Banner V2 Satellite

 

Coverage and Capacity for the 5G Satellite Spectrum

Physics limits the amount of data that a frequency can carry, creating a special set of wave spectrum challenges. Because existing 4G LTE networks are reaching these theoretical upper limits, 5G networks must make use of new areas of the spectrum.

New Spectrum Possibilities

5G can run on a wider range of spectrum than 4G LTE, the current standard. Telecommunications companies use different approaches with regard to new available frequencies. For example, Verizon Communications emphasizes millimeter wave (mmWave) bands, which exist in the 24- to 100-GHz range.

Millimeter wave bands are short-range, high-frequency bands that deliver download speeds of multiple gigabits per second and can handle large numbers of users simultaneously. However, mmWaves can neither travel long distances nor penetrate obstacles and thus require many small network cells. Small cells—which contain a radio, antenna, power, and fiber connection—mount on utility poles, street lights, or similar structures and strengthen coverage in densely populated areas.

On the other hand, AT&T and T-Mobile focus on low-band and midband frequencies. These 5G networks operate at frequencies below 6 GHz—known as sub-6 networks. Unlike mmWaves, these lower-frequency radio waves can penetrate obstacles and travel long distances. T-Mobile, therefore, will focus its 5G technology on servicing rural areas, where its low-band frequencies will provide coverage, though not lightning speeds.

The Future of Cell Towers

By the year 2026, global mobile data use will reach 226 billion gigabytes every month. 5G networks will carry more than half this traffic, according to an Ericsson report. Thus LEO satellites likely will complement—not replace—existing cell phone towers.

Furthermore, certain smart devices depend on their onboard computing technologies to integrate with a local base station to provide near-real-time latency. For example, even a slight delay in communication with a satellite could affect the safety of autonomous vehicles, which rely upon near-instantaneous decision-making.

Two other areas being explored are physical layer security and Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). Both approaches aim to improve the security of 5G communications. Physical-layer security is a new approach that takes advantage of naturally occurring flaws in the wireless channel, such as fading or noise, to provide additional network security. Quantum Key Distribution relies on principles of quantum mechanics to create tamper-proof encryption.

INGR 2021Ed Banner V2 Satellite

 

Largest Shares in the 5G Satellite Spectrum

Satellite integration into the 5G ecosystem falls into three primary categories, according to the 3GPP.

  • Scalability: distribution of video streaming and multibroadcast services
  • Continuity: backup for terrestrial services as well as service for users on the move
  • Ubiquity: delivery of 5G to underserved areas

More Than Smartphones

In the United States, about nineteen million people lack access to broadband internet. Some wireless carriers hesitate to deploy resources in areas of low population density because of the expense and difficulty of installing infrastructure. Satellite companies, on the other hand, can offer broadband to underserved rural or remote areas with minimum terrestrial buildout.

5G-enabled satellites can transmit high data rates globally. 5G deployment thus holds great promise for providing connectivity to passengers in airplanes, ships, or other vehicles, who clearly would not have seamless access to cell phone towers as they move.

By the year 2023, the number of devices connected to the internet will outnumber the world’s population by more than a three-to-one ratio, according to Cisco. The massive volume of smart machines and other devices within the Internet of Things affects network load. The 5G satellite spectrum can provide an alternative for devices that function well with a slight connection delay, such as IoT devices and multibroadcast systems.

Additionally, in the event of a disaster that damages the infrastructure of the terrestrial 5G ecosystem, satellite networks can serve as a communication backup.

Leaders in 5G Satellite Technology

A new kind of space race is emerging to deploy LEO satellite constellations in the latest 5G rollout. In October 2020, aerospace company SpaceX began offering satellite internet to a limited number of customers. Users connect to Starlink, a constellation of 1,000 LEO satellites.

In December 2020, SpaceX won more than $885 million in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund public auction, which aims to bring broadband to rural communities. Starlink plans to continue to invest in its 5G network, with long-term plans for thirty thousand satellites.

Amazon also gained the FCC’s approval to launch its own constellation of 3,236 satellites, which would be in full service by 2029. In preparation, Amazon has purchased nine Atlas V rockets to facilitate the launch of LEO satellites for its Kuiper System.

OneWeb, a satellite company partially owned by the British government, has launched 74 of its planned 648 satellites. OneWeb plans to sell 5G satellite services to governments and transportation entities that provide internet service to airplanes and other vehicles.

INGR 2021Ed Banner V2 Satellite

 

Requirements for Next-Generation Technology in the 5G Spectrum

If the 4G rollout is any indication, a complete overhaul of communications infrastructure takes about seven to ten years. But companies built the 4G LTE infrastructure with the 5G network in mind. Low-band and midband frequencies can take advantage of current 4G LTE equipment. The wider 5G spectrum, including mmWaves, requires different hardware.

5G Spectrum Equipment

For mmWave technology, users cannot use a coaxial cable to connect the radio interface to the antenna. Coaxial cables attenuate a signal quickly. As a result, the mmWave loses significant strength by the time it reaches the antenna, rendering it useless for transmitting information.

Therefore, 5G networks that rely on high-frequency broadband need a new type of hardware: integrated radio units (IRUs). Rather than mounting an antenna on a pole, IRUs bolt the antenna and radio together in one box. Cities such as Sacramento, one of the first markets to launch 5G residential broadband, established public-private partnerships to address city ordinances and make adjustments to integrate high-frequency 5G.

Evolution to 5G

Companies seeking to expand into low-coverage areas are investing in newly available midband 5G C-band spectrum, a subset of sub-6 that refers specifically to frequencies ranging between 3 and 4 GHz. Using the midband spectrum is a compromise between reach and capacity.

In March 2021, Verizon spent $52.9 billion at an FCC C-band spectrum auction. Satellite operators also use the C-band spectrum, which will thus require coordination and sharing. The combination of ultra-low latency with high data speeds—plus unprecedented reach—will pave the way for the next generation of smart technologies to use the 5G satellite spectrum.

Interested in learning more about technology roadmaps? IEEE Roadmaps provides guidance and structure to support technical roadmap development and activities. Joining this initiative will provide you the opportunity to discuss common challenges and objectives while continuing progress towards your roadmap goals. Connect with other industry, academia, and governmental experts providing this critical resource for the advancement of technology.

As carriers and other stakeholders continue to adopt fifth-generation (5G) technology, demand for the mobile network will increase. However, there are key infrastructure challenges necessary to overcome for optimal 5G deployment. Understanding 5G hardware components and how they work is useful knowledge to stakeholders figuring out how to solve those challenges and working on 5G deployment.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

 

The Network Functions of Major 5G Hardware Components

While the 5G ecosystem is full of emerging technologies, its hardware components are similar to existing fourth-generation (4G) LTE hardware components. However, there are three major differentiators in 5G technology: massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) systems, the integrated radio, and edge computing.

Massive MIMO

Massive MIMO technology has the potential to increase the data rate of a 5G network. These structures contain a large number of small antenna arrays, which transmit signals to and receive signals from compatible devices.

5G, like other wireless technologies, relies on base stations to handle cellular traffic. However, base stations with single-input single-output systems had very low throughput. On a cellular network, they were not able to support multiple connected devices with high reliability. As the number of wireless users and interconnected devices continued to grow, single-input systems were not able to support their data needs.

As a result, base stations began to adopt MIMO technologies, such as single-user MIMO, multiuser MIMO, and network-user MIMO. However, wireless users were still increasing exponentially. (A report from Cisco predicts that there will be 5.3 billion internet users by 2023, an increase from 3.9 billion in 2018.) Eventually, even these MIMO technologies were not able to support growing data needs, and a faster solution was necessary.

Enter massive MIMO. These systems are a natural evolution of other MIMO systems present in base stations. Since this type of MIMO groups hundreds of antennas together, the base station focuses energy into a smaller area. As a result, a large-scale MIMO base station provides greater network capacity and improved coverage versus a single-input station or other forms of MIMO technology.

However, there are challenges to implementing this technology in a 5G base station. Like the name implies, these systems are very large and not aesthetically pleasing. As a result, cities are hesitant to adopt this technology. Additionally, massive MIMO requires lots of computing power, which is expensive. If a carrier scales this type of MIMO to a smaller, more appropriate size and improves system efficiency, large-scale MIMO may become more appealing to city stakeholders.

Integrated Radio

5G networks operate on three types of frequencies: low band, which runs on a spectrum below 1 GHz; midband, which operates between 1 GHz and 6 GHz; and high band or millimeter wave, which operates above 6 GHz. Since 5G infrastructure components are similar to 4G infrastructure components, low band and midband are common among mobile 5G carriers.

However, the millimeter wave frequency band, which promises 5G’s famous faster speeds and lower latency, poses unique infrastructure challenges. This network is unable to transmit over long distances and requires specialized infrastructure to increase its data rate and network capacity. As of 2021, millimeter wave is more appropriate for large-scale applications, such as Internet of Things (IoT) communication networks.

One way that network operators are making millimeter wave more accessible is through integrated radio units. These devices integrate the 5G antenna, radio, and digital unit into a single component, making them easier to install. As a result, carriers are able to install multiple radio units within locations that need 5G millimeter wave coverage. As a result, businesses and organizations are able to adopt millimeter wave at a more efficient rate.

Edge Computing

To enable low latency for 5G, it is necessary to bring the compute out of the core network—or the internet—and bring it to the edge. Edge computing places resources closer to end users, usually at the edge of existing core network coverage. With mobile edge computing, the network sees reduced latency and increased coverage. As a result, the network is able to meet International Telecommunication Union latency targets. Mobile operators are able to serve a greater number of customers without relying on their core networks.

However, edge computing poses certain issues. Having multiple computers in public spaces increases the chances of vandalism and presents security issues. Stakeholders will also need to strategize how to provide enough power for these components in rural locations. Power consumption may increase, and overheating may occur without proper cooling systems.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

 

Upgrading Components to Support 5G and 4G Signals

The transition to the 5G network presents certain challenges, but it looks different from past wireless transitions. The migration to other wireless networks, including second generation (2G), third generation (3G), and 4G, required a carrier to phase out older hardware components and build wireless infrastructure from scratch. While some forklift upgrades are necessary for 5G, the wireless technology is more evolutionary than revolutionary.

5G will replace older 3G equipment as the deployment progresses. However, low-band and midband 5G networks run on similar frequency bands as some 4G LTE sites. As a result, manufacturers are able to repurpose these base stations for 5G applications. For example, manufacturers are converting 4G radios into 5G devices that also support the 4G network.

A 5G smartphone will require a 5G chipset to support the 5G network. Carriers will need to develop new equipment and hardware and replace older 4G components to make room for 5G resources. Depending on the company, hardware and software upgrades are necessary to develop a 5G phone.

Manufacturers are also building small-cell networks to augment existing macro cell towers. If a very large number of users rely on a single network in a contained area, the cell tower will become overloaded and experience low performance.

With small cell technologies, however, the telecom operator can concentrate scarce network resources. As a result, the wireless network capacity increases, allowing the carrier to support growing demand. By building small cells around small businesses, public venues, and homes, carriers can improve 5G connectivity for their subscribers.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

 

Top Manufacturers of 5G Hardware Components

As the 5G standard continues to evolve, service providers are making advancements in its hardware. Two of the leading manufacturers for 5G systems include Qualcomm and Huawei. In February 2021, Qualcomm unveiled a 5G modem that can support a 5G speed up to 10 Gbps, the first modem-to-antenna platform to do so. This 5G chip has the potential to increase connectivity on smart devices.

Network operator Huawei is a leading manufacturer for 5G telecom equipment. For example, the company launched a new generation of 5G massive MIMO in 2020, which reportedly has a lower power consumption of 4G RU, an increased bandwidth up to 440 MHz, and a lighter weight than the industry average. Huawei is working toward building ultra-lean sites for the 5G rollout, which will likely alleviate some of the network’s infrastructure challenges.

In addition to Huawei equipment and Qualcomm technologies, many other companies are making advancements within the 5G market. Mobile device manufacturers appear keen to develop in-house 5G components or partner with other leading telecom companies to do so. In 2020, for example, Samsung, along with Intel, reached speeds of 305 Gbps on a 5G User Plane Function (UPF) Core. The UPF is an essential function of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project standards for 5G infrastructure.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

 

Future Component Development for 5G Technology

With advanced 5G mobile networks, consumers enjoy enhanced mobile broadband and faster wireless communication. However, certain challenges arise when developing 5G tech, and further advancements are necessary to unlock the potential of the 5G spectrum. Many 5G device manufacturers are working toward two key developments: efficient power amplifiers and system-on-a-chip (SoC) technology.

Efficient Power Amplifiers

Power amplifiers are machines that increase the magnitude of a 5G signal. These devices are a key component of 5G design. However, there are certain barriers to developing a highly available 5G architecture. Power amplifiers run on one of two competitive semiconductor technologies: silicon-based laterally diffused metal oxide (LDMOS) or gallium nitride (GaN).

LDMOS is less expensive than GaN but is not able to meet 5G performance requirements. However, GaN semiconductors are expensive and require complex manufacturing processes. For future 5G applications, a service provider will need to determine how to either create GaN semiconductors efficiently or to increase LDMOS performance.

System-on-a-Chip Solutions

SoC may also improve 5G service. This radio hardware aims to develop energy-efficient, application-specific integrated circuits that perform multiple functions. Unlike a baseband processor or an RF transceiver, SoC chips have a wider range of applications.

As a result, 5G equipment will become more compact and easier to deploy, especially for large-scale IoT devices. In the future, advanced SoC technology may replace multiple base station and network functions, further reducing costs and energy consumption.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

 

Mobilizing 5G Networking Gear

In 2021, mobile carriers are rolling out 5G cellular networks and improving mobile broadband. The 5G infrastructure market is growing. Businesses and organizations are examining their options for advanced IoT applications, such as autonomous driving. However, significant work is necessary to achieve widespread 5G wireless connectivity—and witnessing these advancements will be an exciting experience.

As we progress into the 5G era, it is important to stay up to date on G network advancements. Learn more about 5G technology by participating in an IEEE Future Networks webinar.

Interested in learning more about technology roadmaps? IEEE Roadmaps provides guidance and structure to support technical roadmap development and activities. Joining this initiative will provide you the opportunity to discuss common challenges and objectives while continuing progress towards your roadmap goals. Connect with other industry, academia, and governmental experts providing this critical resource for the advancement of technology.

The fifth-generation cellular network (5G) represents a major step forward for technology. In particular, it offers benefits for the network of interrelated devices reliant on wireless technology for communication and data transfer, otherwise known as the Internet of Things (IoT). 

The 5G wireless network uses Internet Protocol (IP) for all communications, including voice and short message service (SMS) data. Compared to earlier networks, such as 3G and 4G, it will have higher response speeds (lower latency), greater bandwidth, and support for many more devices. 

Every sector is using some form of wireless-enabled technology. Low latency plays a critical role in many IoT applications where a lag in data transfer to an IoT device can mean a disruption in the manufacturing process, a crashed car, or a disrupted power grid. Increased capacity to support IoT devices means more of the world’s population will be able to access the global digital economy. 

Yet with more capability comes more complexity, and there are challenges to making 5G connection a full reality. There is global interest in realizing the potential of 5G and IoT integration. Research papers on a wide array of topics are helping to advance the field and bring the vision of 5G technology and IoT connectivity into focus. 

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Realizing the potential of 5G and IoT through research

The 5G network represents the best chance for an ever-growing array of wirelessly connected devices to realize their full potential

Making the case for 5G technology

Using millimeter wave technology, 5G connectivity offers increased speed, bandwidth, and reliability of data transfers. These improvements mean that more computing power can be pushed to the cloud, clearing the way for smaller, cheaper, and simpler devices that can do more. Smartphones are a great example of how increased wireless network capacity has allowed devices to get smaller while increasing the range of a user’s cloud-based activities. 

The 5G mobile network also has social justice implications. As Brookings Institute senior fellow Nicol Turner Lee discusses in her research paper “Enabling Opportunities: 5G, the Internet of Things, and Communities of Color,” the development of wireless networks will factor heavily in whether mobile-only users can fully participate in the global digital economy. 

Universal benefits, inspired innovations

The 5G network could spur additional IoT innovations such as the following:

  • Advancements in edge computing
  • Creation of smart cities, smart power grids, and expanded functionality of smart homes
  • Improvements in health-care monitoring and delivery of services
  • Retail improvements
  • Real-time remote control of robots that could improve farming efficiency
  • Automated manufacturing
  • Supply chain improvements
  • Improved transportation and self-driving cars 
  • Expanded use of artificial intelligence reliant on machine learning
  • More cloud computing
  • Expansion of virtual reality and augmented reality

While work to build out 5G has begun, many of the challenges and logistics of completing this vast network still need to be resolved. Some of the challenges include the following:

  • Managing disruption to the radio transmission
  • Network and wireless security
  • Connectivity issues from the network to the internet (known as “backhaul”)
  • Assuaging concerns over health impacts of increased high-speed electromagnetic energy
  • Cost and logistics of building a vast network of towers across different governmental jurisdictions

Those with a stake in making 5G a reality are investing in researching solutions that explore the possibilities and challenges of 5G deployment and IoT integration. Research is also emerging on how 5G and IoT technology can be utilized to respond and fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A forthcoming IEEE Engineering Management Review paper, “The Fight against COVID-19 Pandemic with 5G Technologies,” highlights several illustrative case studies on how 5G and IoT are enabling innovation in telehealth, contact tracing, education, retail and supply chains, e-government and remote offices, smart manufacturing and factory automation, e-tourism, and entertainment. The paper posits that these solutions will be instrumental in returning to usual life in the postpandemic world.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Two halves of a whole—the relationship between IoT and 5G

5G is revolutionary in that it replaces hardware components of wireless networks with software components that offer increased system flexibility. In doing so, it delivers more power to wireless devices that rely upon fast, uninterrupted data transmission. 

Making IoT smarter

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which plays heavily in many IoT applications, relies on smooth and frequent transmission of data. Every disruption in the data transfer process interrupts the feedback loop that facilitates machine learning. 5G’s lower latency eliminates these data hiccups, which translates to better performance over time. 

The 2019 paper “AI Management System to Prevent Accidents in Construction Zones Using 4K Cameras Based on 5G Network,” published in the IEEE Xplore digital library, examines how workplace safety can be improved through AI technologies running on the 5G wireless platform. 

Critical and massive IoT

There are two types of IoT devices: Critical IoT devices offer low latency, high uptime benefits. They facilitate bandwidth-hungry applications that include telemedicine, first responder applications, and factory automation. Massive IoT refers to a network of lots of devices using little bandwidth or speed. These devices find use in applications such as wearables, smart agriculture, smart homes, and smart cities. 

5G technology also allows a service provider to dedicate portions of their networks for specific IoT applications. Known as network slicing, the ability to segment a set of optimized resources further improves the ability of 5G to respond to the varying data and bandwidth needs of critical and massive IoT applications. 

The recent paper “Secure Healthcare: 5G-enabled Network Slicing for Elderly Care,” published in the IEEE Xplore digital library, provides insight into the existing limitations in elder care and discusses a solution that encompasses 5G network slicing techniques and innovations. 

Cybersecurity on the 5G

One fundamental difference between 5G and its predecessors is the shift from a hardware-based system to a software-based system. This shift presents new security challenges as software is more vulnerable to hacking—the same wireless pathways over the 5G that enable IoT can be used to breach it, whereas to hack hardware you need direct physical access. 

Technical solutions to expanding capacity while increasing IoT security, such as those that the IEEE paper “Wideband Antennas and Phased Arrays for Enhancing Cybersecurity in 5G Mobile Wireless” discusses, are being researched and discussed worldwide. In addition, the Brookings Institute’s 2019 research paper “Why 5G Requires a New Approach to Cybersecurity,” discusses why developing coordinated cybersecurity public policies is of paramount importance.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Investing in the future—top research projects on IoT and 5G integration

Governments and the private sector, including trade associations, service providers, and major tech players are funding research at academic institutions. For example, the University of Texas at Austin’s Wireless Network and Communications Group has an Industrial Affiliates Program that allows companies like Huawei to become stakeholders in the center and to participate in the growth and direction of its research on millimeter waves. Similarly, New York University’s Brooklyn engineering program partners with Nokia, Intel, and AT&T to support its research. 

In the US, the National Science Foundation is supporting advanced wireless research. Research England’s UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) supports 5G research, including that being done at the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre. Nonprofit organizations, such as the Brookings Institute, are also conducting research on the logistics and impacts of 5G and IoT. 

Universities, companies, and organizations such as IEEE regularly team up to host conferences around the world that showcase all aspects of 5G. IEEE’s Future Networks is dedicated to enabling 5G and regularly calls for papers related to 5G. 

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Opportunities for 5G and IoT—building a sustainable future

The ultimate goal of 5G and IoT integration is for everything to be connected more simply on smaller, less expensive devices. The 5G network has the potential to drive advancements in IoT and to fundamentally change the way humankind operates around the globe with long-term positive impacts possible with respect to sustainability. 

In practical terms, the 5G network provides better efficiency through increased control. At the local level, a smart city would be better able to monitor, through IoT applications, public safety and utilities. This would mean greater conservation and a reduction in their overall carbon impact while improving the lives of its residents. 

As Darrel M. West examines in his paper “Achieving Sustainability in a 5G World,” IoT innovation in the energy, manufacturing, agriculture and land use, buildings, and transportation sectors coupled with full 5G deployment could allow the global community to meet our long-term sustainability goals. 

Want to learn more about the latest IoT and 5G research? Participate in the 2020 IEEE 3rd 5G World Forum (5GWF'20). The virtual conference, which will be available from September 10–12, aims to bring together experts from industry, academia, and research to exchange their vision as well as their achieved advances towards 5G. In addition, it aims to encourage innovative cross-domain studies, research, early deployment, and large-scale pilot showcases that address the challenges of 5G.

Interested in becoming an IEEE member? Joining this community of over 420,000 technology and engineering professionals will give you access to the resources and opportunities you need to keep on top of changes in technology, as well as help you get involved in standards development, network with other professionals in your local area or within a specific technical interest, mentor the next generation of engineers and technologists, and so much more.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) sponsors more than 1,900 conferences and events each year all over the world, curating cutting-edge content in technical fields. Every fall, IEEE sponsors a 5G broadband conference—the IEEE 5G World Forum. This conference will bring together representatives from industry, academia, and research to share their insights and discuss advances in 5G as well as address challenges in 5G deployment.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Theme for the IEEE 5G World Forum

The theme for this global 5G event is “5G and Beyond: A Comprehensive Look at Future Networks.” The conference will bring together contributors who have been cultivating 5G technology and applications for the benefit of society. And it will emphasize novel architectures that support not only traditional mobile broadband technology but also vertical industry.

Background on 5G

Fifth-generation cellular wireless, or 5G, is the result of new, smarter ways of using the frequencies that allow mobile communication over airwaves. And despite all the hype surrounding it, 5G technology is a big deal. It will revolutionize internet communication and telecommunication for people around the globe. 

While 4G was faster and more responsive than previous generations of wireless technology, 5G takes data transmission a notable step further. It has faster connection times and lower latency. It also supports more connectivity in terms of the number of physical devices connected to a network. As such, it will be a foundational technology for the next wave of advances involving, for example, the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous cars, remote surgery, drones, virtual reality, sustainable development, and smart cities. 

Currently, we are on the cusp of 5G deployment. It will be more widely available over the next two to three years. Because of this, global events like the IEEE 5G World Forum are a vital resource for leaders in the field of wireless technology.

Organizers and leaders of the IEEE 5G World Forum

A committee of over ninety members from the international community is organizing the 5G World Forum. This committee includes representatives from universities, private industry, and governmental organizations who will take part in the planning and execution of the event. Also contributing to organizing the conference are IEEE Future Networks, which is dedicated to supporting current and future 5G deployment, and the IEEE Bangalore Section, which is one of the most dynamic IEEE sections across the globe with over 8,600 members. 

Two advising collaborators are the conference’s knowledge partners: the Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India—which develops, promotes, and standardizes India-specific information and communication technology requirements and solutions—and IEEE Entrepreneurship, IEEE’s engineering-driven start-up community.

Patrons of the IEEE 5G World Forum

With the virtual environment of this year’s international conference, patrons and exhibitors will receive extra exposure time through online tools, and IEEE expects a few thousand online attendees. This will be an enthusiastic and engaged audience of key decision-makers involved in 5G and future network generations. 

Patronage and exhibitor packages are available at multiple levels with different benefits. Current patrons at each of the top levels include the following: 

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Guest speakers at the 5G World Forum

Conference organizer IEEE Future Networks is sponsoring the International Network Generations Roadmap (INGR) to address the challenges of 5G deployment while also considering the evolution of future technologies still in development. This working group fosters a culture of collaboration and encourages new experts to get involved. 

Keynote speakers at the 5G World Forum

The variety of keynote speakers at the 5G World Forum will highlight IEEE Future Networks’s emphasis on community collaboration. The keynote speakers for the event are as follows:

  • Gerhard Fettweis, the Vodafone chair professor at the Technische Universität Dresden
  • Chih-Lin I, the chief scientist of wireless technologies at China Mobile
  • Thyaga Nandagopal, a deputy division director at the National Science Foundation
  • Wanshi Chen, a principal engineer and manager at Qualcomm and the current chair of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) radio layer 1 (RAN1) working group
  • Monisha Ghosh, the chief technology officer for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and a research professor at the University of Chicago
  • Bilel Jamoussi, the chief of the study groups department at the International Telecommunication Union Standardization Bureau in Geneva, Switzerland 
  • Sudhir Kayamkulangara, principal engineer at Cisco in India
  • Vipin Pande, cheif product marketing manager of conformance at Anritsu in United Kingdom
  • Rong-Chung Liu, founder of WavePro as the first EM test company in Taiwan
  • Chung-Huan Li, chief technology officer at WavePro in Taiwan
  • Sumedha Limaye, senior director of engineering at Intel Corporation in India
  • Robert S. Fish, president of IEEE Standards Association and professor at Princenton University department of computer science
  • Adrian Scrase, chief technology officer at ETSI in France
  • Benoit Pelletier, head of ENCQOR 5G and director of business development at Ciena in Canada
  • Karim Chaari, regional sales manager at Airbus Defence and Space, Secure Land Communications division, for MENAI (Middle East, North Africa & India) region
  • Radha Krishna Ganti, associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India

Demonstrations and other sessions at the 5G World Forum

Conference organizer IEEE Future Networks values educational opportunities for its membership through classes, webinars, online communities, and conferences like the 5G World Forum. The scope of all these educational events includes the business of 5G, 5G enabling technologies and standards, 5G spectrum and regulation, future network advancements, and more.

Tech conferences are a worthwhile professional development and networking opportunity. Even if you have not attended a conference before, you are welcome at the 5G World Forum and should consider taking advantage of the opportunities to learn and boost your career at this event.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

2020 Worldwide 5G Industry Fora special session 

The 5G World Forum’s special sessions, for example, provide great learning opportunities. One of these special sessions is the 2020 Worldwide 5G Industry Fora. The theme of this session is “5G Trends and Collaborations: Regional Visions, Verticals, and Interregional Cooperation Activities.” Leading global 5G industry associations and partnerships will participate in this session to share their visions and collaborate regarding 5G deployment and potential performance

Entrepreneurship and Innovations Forum 2020

While the 5G Industry Fora special session focuses on industry leaders in wireless technology, the Entrepreneurship and Innovations Forum (EIF) promotes the involvement of young businesses and the entrepreneur community and provides a platform for them to share their innovations. Attendees will participate in in-depth discussions on 5G deployment and evolution, particularly related to how 5G will improve with time as technology matures. 

5G topical/vertical tracks

The 5G World Forum will also feature nine 5G topical/vertical tracks

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: This track will examine how the simulation of human intelligence in machines and machine learning can transform 5G into a scalable real-time, data-driven network. 
  • 5G E-Health: This track will identify how e-health can leverage the unique advantages of the 5G network.
  • Vertical Test BedsDesigns, Implementation Experiences, Obstacles, and the Role of Open Source: This track will introduce the challenges that 5G aims to solve regarding spectrum demand and the convergence of different wireless communication services. In addition, the track will look at the applicability of certain open source projects in 5G.
  • Security and Privacy: This track will bring together stakeholders to join efforts in embedding security and privacy requirements in the evolving 5G architecture. 5G is positioned to improve much of our critical infrastructures, emergency networks, and industrial and automation networks. 
  • 5G and Smart Cities Interplay—Will 5G Make Smart Cities a Common Reality? This track’s goal is to provide a platform for communication and collaboration between industry, government, and research on the state of the art in smart cities and 5G. 
  • 5G Mission Critical Solutions for Public Protection and Disaster Relief—Public Safety, First Responders, and Beyond during the COVID-19 Pandemic: This track will examine how essential workers have used 5G capabilities to create solutions for stakeholder agencies during the pandemic.
  • 5G Technology that Fuels Massive IoT Growth: This track will consider how 5G provides a platform enabling the IoT to become a core part of our lifestyle and economy.
  • Standards and Deployment: This track will address standardization issues in three sessions. Session one will focus on standardization issues in 5G deployment. Session two will focus on “beyond 5G” standardization topics. And the third session will focus on the standardization of vertical industries with 5G and beyond.
  • The Role of Satellites for 5G and Beyond: This track will focus on key challenges and advances in satellite systems and communication, which are likely to play a significant role in 5G. 
  • Dialogues between 5G and Vertical Domains: This track will bring specialists from different verticals to expose a more profound vision of the area to the 5G community.

Contributions for the IEEE 5G World Forum

The deadline for submissions for the IEEE 5G World Forum has passed. However, you can still read about the call for papers, which sought contributions on how to nurture and cultivate 5G technologies and applications for the benefit of society. 

Topics of technical papers for the 5G World Forum

Within this general call for conference contributions, conference organizers solicited innovative, high-quality technical papers on specific topics such as the following:

  • 5G technologies, application, and services
  • 5G and the IoT
  • 5G security and privacy
  • 5G trials, experimental results, and deployment scenarios
  • 5G hardware and tests/measurements

Other contributions to the 5G World Forum

The 5G World Forum also sought contributions for interactive workshops and special sessions involving a mix of paper presentations and panels. Prospective organizers submitted proposals that included the title and a brief description of their planned workshop or special session as well as the intended format and participants. 

Contributors were also able to submit proposals for tutorials and demonstrations to present new innovations and educate conference participants on practical works of interest related to 5G. For information on the contributions that conference organizers selected, be sure to check out the 5G World Forum program. The full program of scheduled events for the conference will be available soon. 

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Submissions for future IEEE events

Additionally, consider checking out the IEEE conferences website for a current listing of upcoming events and calls for contributions. Even if you have never considered a paper submission or session proposal before, you can become familiar with the process now so you feel confident to take this next step to participate in an IEEE event on a deeper level soon.

Sponsor the IEEE 5G World Forum

Even though the deadline for paper and proposal submissions for the 5G World Forum conference has passed, there are still available sponsorship opportunities. You can position your company above the competition through live or prerecorded presentations and engage potential customers through online sessions and exhibitor/patron virtual rooms.

How to participate in the IEEE 5G World Forum

If you are planning on attending the IEEE 5G World Forum, it can be helpful to spend some time preparing. With a game plan in place, you can be sure you get the most out of any technology conference you attend.

Because of the switch to a virtual format, the conference has reduced registration fees. A single registration includes access to all parts of the conference on the interactive virtual platform, where participants will be able to ask questions of speakers, take part in discussion groups, meet with sponsors, and more.

 

 

Interested in learning more about technology roadmaps? IEEE Roadmaps provides guidance and structure to support technical roadmap development and activities. Joining this initiative will provide you the opportunity to discuss common challenges and objectives while continuing progress towards your roadmap goals. Connect with other industry, academia, and governmental experts providing this critical resource for the advancement of technology.

We are currently on the cusp of 5G rollout. As industry experts predict, 5G deployments will gain momentum, and the accessibility of 5G devices will grow in 2020 and beyond. But as the general public waits for mass-market 5G devices, our understanding of this new technology is continuing to develop. Public and private organizations are exploring several research areas in 5G technology, helping to create more awareness of breakthroughs in this technology, its potential applications and implications, and the challenges surrounding it. 

What is especially clear at this point is that 5G technology offers a transformative experience for mobile communications around the globe. Its benefits, which include higher data rates, faster connectivity, and potentially lower power consumption, promise to benefit industry, professional users, casual consumers, and everyone in between. As this article highlights, researchers have not yet solved or surmounted all of the challenges and obstacles surrounding the wide scale deployment of 5G technology. But the potential impact that it will have on the entire matrix of how we communicate is limited only by the imagination of the experts currently at its frontier. 

INGR 2021Ed Banner

New developments and applications in 5G technologies

Much of the transformative impact of 5G stems from the higher data transmission speeds and lower latency that this fifth generation of cellular technology enables. Currently, when you click on a link or start streaming a video, the lag time between your request to the network and its delivery to your device is about twenty milliseconds. 

That may not seem like a long time. But for the expert mobile robotics surgeon, that lag might be the difference between a successful or failed procedure. With 5G, latency can be as low as one millisecond. 

5G will greatly increase bandwidth capacity and transmission speeds. Wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T have recorded speeds of one gigabyte per second. That’s anywhere from ten to one hundred times faster than an average cellular connection and even faster than a fiber-optic cable connection. Such speeds offer exciting possibilities for new developments and applications in numerous industries and economic sectors.

E-health services

For example, 5G speeds allow telemedicine services to enhance their doctor-patient relationships by decreasing troublesome lag times in calls. This helps patients return to the experience of intimacy they are used to from in-person meetings with health-care professionals. 

As 5G technology continues to advance its deployment, telemedicine specialists find that they can live anywhere in the world, be licensed in numerous states, and have faster access to cloud data storage and retrieval. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is spurring new developments in telemedicine as a delivery platform for medical services. 

Energy infrastructure

In addition to transforming e-health services, the speed and reliability of 5G network connectivity can improve the infrastructure of America’s energy sector with smart power grids. Such grids bring automation to the legacy power arrangement, optimizing the storage and delivery of energy. With smart power grids, the energy sector can more effectively manage power consumption and distribution based on need and integrate off-grid energy sources such as windmills and solar panels.

Farming

Another specific area to see increased advancement due to 5G technology is artificial intelligence (AI). One of the main barriers to successful integration of AI is processing speeds. With 5G, data transfer speeds are ten times faster than those possible with 4G. This makes it possible to receive and analyze information much more efficiently. And it puts AI on a faster track in numerous industries in both urban and rural settings. 

In rural settings, for example, 5G is helping improve cattle farming efficiency. By placing sensors on cows, farmers capture data that AI and machine learning can process to predict when cows are likely to give birth. This helps both farmers and veterinarians better predict and prepare for cow pregnancies.

However, it’s heavily populated cities across the country that are likely to witness the most change as mobile networks create access to heretofore unexperienced connectivity. 

Smart cities

Increased connectivity is key to the emergence of smart cities. These cities conceive of improving the living standards of residents by increasing the connectivity infrastructure of the city. This affects numerous aspects of city life, from traffic management and safety and security to governance, education, and more. 

Smart cities become “smarter” when services and applications become remotely accessible. Hence, innovative smartphone applications are key to smart city infrastructure. But the potential of these applications is seriously limited in cities with spotty connectivity and wide variations in data transmission speed. This is why 5G technology is crucial to continued developments in smart cities.

Other applications

Many other industries and economic sectors will benefit from 5G. Additional examples include automotive communication, smart retail and manufacturing. 

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Wave spectrum challenges with 5G

While the potential applications of 5G technology are exciting, realizing the technology’s potential is not without its challenges. Notably, 5G global upgrades and changes are producing wave spectrum challenges.

A number of companies, such as Samsung, Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, Nokia Networks, Qualcomm, Verizon, AT&T, and Cisco Systems are competing to make 5G technology available across the globe. But while in competition with each other, they all share the same goal and face the same dilemma.

Common goal

The goal for 5G is to provide the requisite bandwidth to every user with a device capable of higher data rates. Networks can provide this bandwidth by using a frequency spectrum above six gigahertz

Though the military has already been using frequencies above six gigahertz, commercial consumer-based networks are now doing so for the first time. All over the globe, researchers are exploring the new possibilities of spectrum and frequency channels for 5G communications. And they are focusing on the frequency range between twenty-five and eighty-six gigahertz.

Common dilemma

While researchers see great potential with a high-frequency version of 5G, it comes with a key challenge. It is very short range. Objects such as trees and buildings cause significant signal obstruction, necessitating numerous cell towers to avoid signal path loss. 

However, multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) technology is proving to be an effective technique for expanding the capacity of 5G connectivity and addressing signal path challenges. Researchers are keying into MIMO deployment due to its design simplicity and multiple offered features. 

A massive MIMO network can provide service to an increased multiplicity of mobile devices in a condensed area at a single frequency simultaneously. And by facilitating a greater number of antennas, a massive MIMO network is more resistant to signal interference and jamming.

Even with MIMO technology, however, line of sight will still be important for high-frequency 5G. Base stations on top of most buildings are likely to remain a necessity. As such, a complete 5G rollout is potentially still years away. 

Current solutions and the way forward

In the interim, telecommunication providers have come up with an alternative to high-frequency 5G— “midband spectrum.” This is what T-Mobile uses. But this compromise does not offer significant performance benefits in comparison to 4G and thus is unlikely to satisfy user expectations. 

Despite the frequency challenges currently surrounding 5G, it is important to keep in mind that there is a common evolution with new technological developments. Initial efforts to develop new technology are often complex and proprietary at the outset. But over time, innovation and advancements provide a clear, unified pathway forward.

This is the path that 5G is bound to follow. Currently, however, MIMO technological advancements notwithstanding, 5G rollout is still in its early, complex phase.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Battery life and energy storage for 5G equipment

For users to enjoy the full potential of 5G technology, longer battery life and better energy storage is essential. So this is what the industry is aiming for.

Currently, researchers are looking to lithium battery technology to boost battery life and optimize 5G equipment for user expectations. However, the verdict is mixed when it comes to the utility of lithium batteries in a 5G world. 

Questions about battery demands and performance

In theory, 5G smartphones will be less taxed than current smartphones. This is because a 5G network with local 5G base stations will dramatically increase computation speeds and enable the transfer of the bulk of computation from your smartphone to the cloud. This means less battery usage for daily tasks and longer life for your battery. Or does it?

A competing theory focuses on the 5G phones themselves. Unlike 4G chips, the chips that power 5G phones are incredibly draining to lithium batteries. 

Early experiments indicate that the state-of-the-art radio frequency switches running in smartphones are continually jumping from 3G to 4G to Wi-Fi. As a smartphone stays connected to these different sources, its battery drains faster.

The present limited infrastructure of 5G exacerbates this problem. Current 5G smartphones need to maintain a connection to multiple networks in order to ensure consistent phone call, text message, and data delivery. And this multiplicity of connections contributes to battery drain.

Until the technology improves and becomes more widely available, consumers are left with a choice: the regular draining expectations that come with 4G devices or access to the speeds and convenience of 5G Internet. 

Possibilities for improvement on the horizon

Fortunately, what can be expected with continuous 5G rollout is continuous improvements in battery performance. As 5G continues to expand across the globe, increasing the energy density and extending the lifetime of batteries will be vital. So market competition for problem-solving battery solutions promises to be fierce and drive innovation to meet user expectations. 

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Additional research areas in 5G technology

While research in battery technology remains important, researchers are also focusing their attention on a number of other areas of concern. This research is likewise aimed at meeting user expectations and realizing the full potential of 5G technology as it gains more footing in public and private sectors. 

Small cell research

For example, researchers are focusing on small cells to meet the much higher data capacity demands of 5G networks. As mobile carriers look to densify their networks, small cell research is leading the way toward a solution.

Small cells are low-powered radio access points that take the place of traditional wireless transmission systems or base stations. By making use of low-power and short-range transmissions in small geographic areas, small cells are particularly well suited for the rollout of high-frequency 5G. As such, small cells are likely to appear by the hundreds of thousands across the United States as cellular companies work to improve mobile communication for their subscribers. The faster small cell technology advances, the sooner consumers will have specific 5G devices connected to 5G-only Internet. 

Security-oriented research

Security is also quickly becoming a major area of focus amid the push for a global 5G rollout. Earlier iterations of cellular technology were based primarily on hardware. When voice and text were routed to separate physical devices, each device managed its own network security. There was network security for voice calls, network security for short message system (SMS), and so forth.

5G moves away from this by making everything more software based. In theory, this makes things less secure, as there are now more ways to attack the network. Originally, 5G did have some security layers built in at the federal level. Under the Obama administration, legislation mandating clearly defined security at the network stage passed. However, the Trump administration is looking to replace these security layers with its own “national spectrum strategy.”

With uncertainty about existing safeguards, the cybersecurity protections available to citizens and governments amid 5G rollout is a matter of critical importance. This is creating a market for new cybersecurity research and solutions—solutions that will be key to safely and securely realizing the true value of 5G wireless technology going forward.

 

Interested in learning more about technology roadmaps? IEEE Roadmaps provides guidance and structure to support technical roadmap development and activities. Joining this initiative will provide you the opportunity to discuss common challenges and objectives while continuing progress towards your roadmap goals. Connect with other industry, academia, and governmental experts providing this critical resource for the advancement of technology.

Telecommunications companies use 5G antennas to handle the greater speed, capacity, and bandwidth of 5G networks. As these networks become more commonplace, new design challenges, capabilities, and opportunities will continue to emerge. The IEEE 5G World Forum serves as a platform for exciting conversations surrounding these new developments and the role they will play in the future of 5G.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Overview of the 5G World Forum

The 5G World Forum is now in its third year. Since its inception, the conference has sought to be the primary meeting place for stakeholders in the field of wireless technology. Due to COVID-19 and the need to protect the health and safety of attendees, this year’s conference will be virtual. What will not change, however, is the event’s importance as a forum for the latest advances in 5G.

This year’s theme is “5G and Beyond: A Comprehensive Look at Future Networks.” As such, the conference will focus on how 5G innovations will change wireless technology—and our global society as a whole. More specifically, the event will cover the development of novel mobile network architecture. This architecture stands to improve the physical data rate of 5G networks and also create a new ecosystem for the deployment of novel services and applications.

The conference program features renowned keynote speakers and worldwide industry fora, as well as panel discussions, workshops, and other opportunities to learn and network. The program also features ten topical/vertical tracks that conference attendees can explore. These focus on aspects of 5G technology, such as security and privacy, 5G deployment, and artificial intelligence/machine learning. Beyond that, many tracks cover applications of 5G technology, including applications in everything from health care to smart cities. 

A focus on 5G antenna systems technology

5G antenna systems will be a key topic of discussion at the conference. In preparation for the event, IEEE put out a call for technical papers pertaining to 5G antenna technologies. Specifically, the call for papers for Track 6: 5G Hardware and Test/Measurements solicited papers related to 5G antennas. Subtopics for this track include but are not limited to the following:

  • Massive multiple input, multiple output (MIMO), multiuser-MIMO (MU-MIMO), and multiple radio access technology (multi-RAT) system architectures
  • Reconfigurable and switching wireless network topologies
  • Radiofrequency (RF) beamforming, digital beamforming, and hybrid beamforming architectures
  • Beam steering and the phased antenna array

While the deadline for submitting a paper has passed, accepted papers will be accessible to conference attendees interested in learning more about these and other topics. 

A 5G antenna tutorial

Furthermore, individuals attending the conference will have opportunities to delve into the finer points of antenna systems through the 5G World Forum’s tutorials. One of the event’s 5G Core Tutorials, for example, is titled Beyond Massive MIMO: Promising Research Directions for Antenna Arrays.

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Why 5G antenna technologies are a big focus 

Multiple transmit antennas in base stations and devices are already key to 4G/LTE technology. But they will be even more important as 5G becomes standard. Why? Because 5G wireless access must provide much higher data rates and handle significantly higher traffic volumes while using less energy per bit. This calls for advanced antenna solutions. 

Simply put, 5G antenna design and performance need to keep improving to match the rate of 5G innovation. Various antenna designs may be more effective for different use cases—like city use or use in indoor areas. And today’s antenna designers, engineers, and other stakeholders in this arena have a lot to consider when it comes to the new and existing technologies that have evolved to support 5G. 

The latest 5G antenna innovations

Some key areas of research and innovation in 5G antenna systems technology are as follows:

  • Massive MIMO: Massive MIMO systems, also known as large-scale antenna systems, must have base stations with at least sixty-four antennas. Additionally, they must have a number of antennas that is at least an order of magnitude more than the number of mobile devices connected to the system. Basically, MIMO systems use a large number of antennas to focus energy into small areas of space. This improves throughput and reduces the energy required per transmitted bit. 
  • Holographic beamforming: Current cellular services often use antennas that form sixty- to ninety-degree sector beams to widely spread energy. In contrast, beamforming allows for a more targeted communication protocol between a base station and cellular customer. One specific type of beamforming, holographic beamforming, uses passive, electronically steered antennas to help focus power on recipients and thereby reduce the energy required to maintain signal strengths. Notably, holographic beamforming is more efficient than phased arrays and MIMO.
  • Small cell deployment: Small cells facilitate improvements in 4G LTE coverage in high usage areas like college campuses. But they also promise to play an even bigger role in the 5G revolution. That includes bringing network coverage to dense areas like cities. 
  • Indoor 5G antenna systems: To deliver 5G signals inside buildings, mobile operators need to deploy distributed antenna systems (DASs). However, to meet the needs of the 5G evolution, a DAS has to support service layers for multiple frequencies. Achieving this as efficiently as possible is a key area of focus for innovation. The goal is to support 5G without unnecessary costs or additional hardware.
  • Compact antenna test range (CATR) technology: Researchers have long used CATR technology to measure electrically large antennas. But recent innovations in this technology introduce new measurement capabilities and improve 5G millimeter-wave over-the-air (OTA) testing. 

 INGR 2021Ed Banner

The 5G antenna market

According to telecommunications company Ericsson’s predictions, the market for service providers in the 5G arena will grow to around $700 billion by 2030. So it’s no surprise the telecommunications industry is eager to plan for a 5G-enabled future. Opportunities for revenue may reach far beyond mobile networks’ wireless communication services to include a cellular Internet of Things (IoT), private networks, and more. As new use cases arise, it’s clear that the market potential for 5G is huge. The exciting (and profitable) opportunities are practically limitless. 

A 5G revolution

Commercial, large-scale deployment of 5G is already happening at a rapid pace. As a 2019 Huawei white paper notes, thirty-five operators in twenty countries around the world have released this technology. And according to a 2019 HIS Markit study that Qualcomm commissioned, 5G predictions for the future include the following: 

  • Globally, the 5G value chain will have 22.3 million jobs in 2035. 
  • The global 5G value chain will invest an average of $235 billion in the 5G technology base every year. 
  • The United States and China will lead cellular research, development, and capital expenditures.
  • 5G-enabled business-to-business opportunities will grow service providers’ revenues by up to 35 percent by 2030.

Industry sectors that will make use of 5G technology include everything from energy, utilities, and transportation to health care and public safety. 5G will enable augmented reality and virtual reality for remote operations and hosting immersive virtual events. Its extremely low latency will make possible everything from better drone technology to enhanced cloud gaming. And the 5G network stands to serve as a better-performing replacement for home and business broadband with less need for costly infrastructure—that is, once the world is equipped to support 5G.

A growing market for 5G antenna systems

According to McKinsey & Company, mobile operators must make big investments in 5G infrastructure to meet growing needs. In most cases, 5G builds on 4G networks that already exist. This means mobile operators can upgrade their existing infrastructure without starting from scratch. For instance, they could evolve to massive MIMO or acquire more spectrum to meet the demands of 5G. 

That said, some new investments will be necessary. For instance, even with new spectrum additions, mobile operators will still need to improve radio interfaces and antennas to increase 5G efficiency. And at a certain point, growing traffic on 5G networks—especially in urban areas—will call for new infrastructure altogether. In fact, McKinsey predicts that one-third of network spend between 2020 and 2025 will go to emerging 5G domains. 

INGR 2021Ed Banner

Attending the 5G World Forum

The 5G World Forum offers an opportunity to further explore the 5G market as well as emerging technologies and use cases. As the article noted above, this conference brings together the field’s leading experts to address 5G challenges and opportunities. This includes challenges and opportunities related to antenna technology.

 

Interested in learning more about technology roadmaps? IEEE Roadmaps provides guidance and structure to support technical roadmap development and activities. Joining this initiative will provide you the opportunity to discuss common challenges and objectives while continuing progress towards your roadmap goals. Connect with other industry, academia, and governmental experts providing this critical resource for the advancement of technology.

While research in battery technology remains important, researchers are also focusing their attention on a number of other areas of concern. This research is likewise aimed at meeting user expectations and realizing the full potential of 5G technology as it gains more footing in public and private sectors. 

5G World Forum Banner

Small cell research

For example, researchers are focusing on small cells to meet the much higher data capacity demands of 5G networks. As mobile carriers look to densify their networks, small cell research is leading the way toward a solution.

Small cells are low-powered radio access points that take the place of traditional wireless transmission systems or base stations. By making use of low-power and short-range transmissions in small geographic areas, small cells are particularly well suited for the rollout of high-frequency 5G. As such, small cells are likely to appear by the hundreds of thousands across the United States as cellular companies work to improve mobile communication for their subscribers. The faster small cell technology advances, the sooner consumers will have specific 5G devices connected to 5G-only Internet. 

Security-oriented research

Security is also quickly becoming a major area of focus amid the push for a global 5G rollout. Earlier iterations of cellular technology were based primarily on hardware. When voice and text were routed to separate physical devices, each device managed its own network security. There was network security for voice calls, network security for short message system (SMS), and so forth.

5G moves away from this by making everything more software based. In theory, this makes things less secure, as there are now more ways to attack the network. Originally, 5G did have some security layers built in at the federal level. Under the Obama administration, legislation mandating clearly defined security at the network stage passed. However, the Trump administration is looking to replace these security layers with its own “national spectrum strategy.”

With uncertainty about existing safeguards, the cybersecurity protections available to citizens and governments amid 5G rollout is a matter of critical importance. This is creating a market for new cybersecurity research and solutions—solutions that will be key to safely and securely realizing the true value of 5G wireless technology going forward.

 

Interested in becoming an IEEE member? Joining this community of over 420,000 technology and engineering professionals will give you access to the resources and opportunities you need to keep on top of changes in technology, as well as help you get involved in standards development, network with other professionals in your local area or within a specific technical interest, mentor the next generation of engineers and technologists, and so much more.

For users to enjoy the full potential of 5G technology, longer battery life and better energy storage is essential. So this is what the industry is aiming for.

Currently, researchers are looking to lithium battery technology to boost battery life and optimize 5G equipment for user expectations. However, the verdict is mixed when it comes to the utility of lithium batteries in a 5G world. 

5G World Forum Banner

Questions about battery demands and performance

In theory, 5G smartphones will be less taxed than current smartphones. This is because a 5G network with local 5G base stations will dramatically increase computation speeds and enable the transfer of the bulk of computation from your smartphone to the cloud. This means less battery usage for daily tasks and longer life for your battery. Or does it?

A competing theory focuses on the 5G phones themselves. Unlike 4G chips, the chips that power 5G phones are incredibly draining to lithium batteries. 

Early experiments indicate that the state-of-the-art radio frequency switches running in smartphones are continually jumping from 3G to 4G to Wi-Fi. As a smartphone stays connected to these different sources, its battery drains faster.

The present limited infrastructure of 5G exacerbates this problem. Current 5G smartphones need to maintain a connection to multiple networks in order to ensure consistent phone call, text message, and data delivery. And this multiplicity of connections contributes to battery drain.

Until the technology improves and becomes more widely available, consumers are left with a choice: the regular draining expectations that come with 4G devices or access to the speeds and convenience of 5G Internet. 

Possibilities for improvement on the horizon

Fortunately, what can be expected with continuous 5G rollout is continuous improvements in battery performance. As 5G continues to expand across the globe, increasing the energy density and extending the lifetime of batteries will be vital. So market competition for problem-solving battery solutions promises to be fierce and drive innovation to meet user expectations. 

 

Interested in becoming an IEEE member? Joining this community of over 420,000 technology and engineering professionals will give you access to the resources and opportunities you need to keep on top of changes in technology, as well as help you get involved in standards development, network with other professionals in your local area or within a specific technical interest, mentor the next generation of engineers and technologists, and so much more.

While the potential applications of 5G technology are exciting, realizing the technology’s potential is not without its challenges. Notably, 5G global upgrades and changes are producing wave spectrum challenges.

A number of companies, such as Samsung, Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, Nokia Networks, Qualcomm, Verizon, AT&T, and Cisco Systems are competing to make 5G technology available across the globe. But while in competition with each other, they all share the same goal and face the same dilemma.

5G World Forum Banner

Common goal

The goal for 5G is to provide the requisite bandwidth to every user with a device capable of higher data rates. Networks can provide this bandwidth by using a frequency spectrum above six gigahertz

Though the military has already been using frequencies above six gigahertz, commercial consumer-based networks are now doing so for the first time. All over the globe, researchers are exploring the new possibilities of spectrum and frequency channels for 5G communications. And they are focusing on the frequency range between twenty-five and eighty-six gigahertz.

Common dilemma

While researchers see great potential with a high-frequency version of 5G, it comes with a key challenge. It is very short range. Objects such as trees and buildings cause significant signal obstruction, necessitating numerous cell towers to avoid signal path loss. 

However, multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) technology is proving to be an effective technique for expanding the capacity of 5G connectivity and addressing signal path challenges. Researchers are keying into MIMO deployment due to its design simplicity and multiple offered features. 

A massive MIMO network can provide service to an increased multiplicity of mobile devices in a condensed area at a single frequency simultaneously. And by facilitating a greater number of antennas, a massive MIMO network is more resistant to signal interference and jamming.

Even with MIMO technology, however, line of sight will still be important for high-frequency 5G. Base stations on top of most buildings are likely to remain a necessity. As such, a complete 5G rollout is potentially still years away. 

Current solutions and the way forward

In the interim, telecommunication providers have come up with an alternative to high-frequency 5G— “midband spectrum.” This is what T-Mobile uses. But this compromise does not offer significant performance benefits in comparison to 4G and thus is unlikely to satisfy user expectations. 

Despite the frequency challenges currently surrounding 5G, it is important to keep in mind that there is a common evolution with new technological developments. Initial efforts to develop new technology are often complex and proprietary at the outset. But over time, innovation and advancements provide a clear, unified pathway forward.

This is the path that 5G is bound to follow. Currently, however, MIMO technological advancements notwithstanding, 5G rollout is still in its early, complex phase.

 

Interested in becoming an IEEE member? Joining this community of over 420,000 technology and engineering professionals will give you access to the resources and opportunities you need to keep on top of changes in technology, as well as help you get involved in standards development, network with other professionals in your local area or within a specific technical interest, mentor the next generation of engineers and technologists, and so much more.

Much of the transformative impact of 5G stems from the higher data transmission speeds and lower latency that this fifth generation of cellular technology enables. Currently, when you click on a link or start streaming a video, the lag time between your request to the network and its delivery to your device is about twenty milliseconds. 

That may not seem like a long time. But for the expert mobile robotics surgeon, that lag might be the difference between a successful or failed procedure. With 5G, latency can be as low as one millisecond. 

5G will greatly increase bandwidth capacity and transmission speeds. Wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T have recorded speeds of one gigabyte per second. That’s anywhere from ten to one hundred times faster than an average cellular connection and even faster than a fiber-optic cable connection. Such speeds offer exciting possibilities for new developments and applications in numerous industries and economic sectors.

5G World Forum Banner

E-health services

For example, 5G speeds allow telemedicine services to enhance their doctor-patient relationships by decreasing troublesome lag times in calls. This helps patients return to the experience of intimacy they are used to from in-person meetings with health-care professionals. 

As 5G technology continues to advance its deployment, telemedicine specialists find that they can live anywhere in the world, be licensed in numerous states, and have faster access to cloud data storage and retrieval. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is spurring new developments in telemedicine as a delivery platform for medical services. 

Energy infrastructure

In addition to transforming e-health services, the speed and reliability of 5G network connectivity can improve the infrastructure of America’s energy sector with smart power grids. Such grids bring automation to the legacy power arrangement, optimizing the storage and delivery of energy. With smart power grids, the energy sector can more effectively manage power consumption and distribution based on need and integrate off-grid energy sources such as windmills and solar panels.

Farming

Another specific area to see increased advancement due to 5G technology is artificial intelligence (AI). One of the main barriers to successful integration of AI is processing speeds. With 5G, data transfer speeds are ten times faster than those possible with 4G. This makes it possible to receive and analyze information much more efficiently. And it puts AI on a faster track in numerous industries in both urban and rural settings. 

In rural settings, for example, 5G is helping improve cattle farming efficiency. By placing sensors on cows, farmers capture data that AI and machine learning can process to predict when cows are likely to give birth. This helps both farmers and veterinarians better predict and prepare for cow pregnancies.

However, it’s heavily populated cities across the country that are likely to witness the most change as mobile networks create access to heretofore unexperienced connectivity. 

Smart cities

Increased connectivity is key to the emergence of smart cities. These cities conceive of improving the living standards of residents by increasing the connectivity infrastructure of the city. This affects numerous aspects of city life, from traffic management and safety and security to governance, education, and more. 

Smart cities become “smarter” when services and applications become remotely accessible. Hence, innovative smartphone applications are key to smart city infrastructure. But the potential of these applications is seriously limited in cities with spotty connectivity and wide variations in data transmission speed. This is why 5G technology is crucial to continued developments in smart cities.

Other applications

Many other industries and economic sectors will benefit from 5G. Additional examples include automotive communication, smart retail and manufacturing. 

 

Interested in becoming an IEEE member? Joining this community of over 420,000 technology and engineering professionals will give you access to the resources and opportunities you need to keep on top of changes in technology, as well as help you get involved in standards development, network with other professionals in your local area or within a specific technical interest, mentor the next generation of engineers and technologists, and so much more.

 

Call to Action: Get involved in your local BroadbandUSA efforts

Over the last few years IEEE Future Networks has developed content, events, and educational offerings that sought to highlight the need for technical experts to engage with their local communities to address the slow pace of deployment of 5G and infrastructure and services. For those residing in the U.S., now is a critical time for engagement.

Read more.


IEEE International Network Generations Roadmap (INGR)

The purpose of the International Network Generations Roadmap (INGR) is to stimulate an industry-wide dialogue to address the many facets and challenges of the development and deployment of 5G in a well-coordinated and comprehensive manner, while also looking beyond 5G. Future network technologies (5G, 6G, etc.) are expected to enable fundamentally new applications that will transform the way humanity lives, works, and engages with its environment. INGR, created by experts across industry, government and academia, is designed to help guide operators, regulators, manufacturers, researchers, and other interested parties involved in developing these new communication technology ecosystems  by laying out a technology roadmap with 3-year, 5-year, and 10-year horizons. 

INGR 2021Ed Banner


Massive MIMO

Beyond providing speedy cell phone service, 5G technology promises unprecedented new applications. Machine-to-machine communication and the Internet of Things continue to expand, competing with cell phone users for internet throughput. In fact, the Ericsson Mobility Report forecasts an increase in mobile network traffic by 77 percent by 2026, to a global level of 226 exabytes every month.

How can wireless communications technologies evolve to meet this ever-increasing demand for connectivity? The answer may reside with a technology known as massive multiple input, multiple output (MIMO).

Read more.


5G Testbed

Unlike previous generations of wireless technology, 5G promises to be about more than just smartphones. More than 30 percent of countries already had 5G availability by February 2021, according to VIAVI Solutions’ report, “The State of 5G.” And 5G’s availability is growing faster than that of its 4G LTE predecessor. Testing a 5G use case in a controlled environment, or 5G testbed, has been an important part of facilitating the massive 5G rollout.

Boasting connectivity, high bandwidth, and low latency, 5G benefits smartphone users. But researchers expect an unprecedented number of other types of devices to connect to a 5G network. This means 5G should be a network of connected machines, not just people.

Read more.


5G Satellite Spectrum

Since its inception, mobile networking has existed independently of satellite technology. But the development of 5G architecture holds promise for a new generation of satellite operators to help provide unprecedented connectivity and futuristic applications with a tech focus.

Though satellite internet faces significant challenges in bringing broadband to users on a wide scale, many companies have already begun to deploy it. The development of the 5G satellite spectrum offers a great complement to burgeoning 5G terrestrial connectivity.

Read more.


5G Hardware Components: Advancements and Future Trends

As carriers and other stakeholders continue to adopt fifth-generation (5G) technology, demand for the mobile network will increase. However, there are key infrastructure challenges necessary to overcome for optimal 5G deployment. Understanding 5G hardware components and how they work is useful knowledge to stakeholders figuring out how to solve those challenges and working on 5G deployment.

Read more.


Charting an integrated future: IoT and 5G research papers

The fifth-generation cellular network (5G) represents a major step forward for technology. In particular, it offers benefits for the network of interrelated devices reliant on wireless technology for communication and data transfer, otherwise known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

The 5G wireless network uses Internet Protocol (IP) for all communications, including voice and short message service (SMS) data. Compared to earlier networks, such as 3G and 4G, it will have higher response speeds (lower latency), greater bandwidth, and support for many more devices.

Read more.


5G antenna systems and IEEE 5G conference

Looking for an opportunity to convene with 5G antenna systems experts and other 5G industry professionals? The third annual IEEE 5G World Forum, running from September 10 to 12, 2020, is a can’t-miss event. The conference will bring together authorities from academia, research, and industry to shed light on the latest 5G advances—including advances in 5G antenna systems.

Read more.


Research areas in 5G technology

We are currently on the cusp of 5G rollout. As industry experts predict, 5G deployments will gain momentum, and the accessibility of 5G devices will grow in 2020. But as the general public waits for mass-market 5G devices, our understanding of this new technology is continuing to develop. Public and private organizations are exploring several research areas in 5G technology, helping to create more awareness of breakthroughs in this technology, its potential applications and implications, and the challenges surrounding it. 

Read more.


What you should know about the 5G Broadband Conference

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) sponsors more than 1,900 conferences and events each year all over the world, curating cutting-edge content in technical fields. This fall, IEEE is sponsoring a 5G broadband conference—the 2020 IEEE Third 5G World Forum. This conference will bring together representatives from industry, academia, and research to share their insights and discuss advances in 5G as well as address challenges in 5G deployment.

Read more.


Interested in becoming an IEEE member? Joining this community of over 420,000 technology and engineering professionals will give you access to the resources and opportunities you need to keep on top of changes in technology, as well as help you get involved in standards development, network with other professionals in your local area or within a specific technical interest, mentor the next generation of engineers and technologists, and so much more.