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. 

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.