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.

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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.


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