2G. 2.5G. 3G. 4G. 5G. Gee, there’s been a lot of forward motion in cellular networking over the past few years.
The names above would seem to indicate each step along the way simply adds some horsepower to the one before it. But, in fact, that’s not the case.
5G will be faster. No doubt. In fact, 5G will support data rates up to 100 times faster than current cellular networks. That means it will be able to provide bandwidth on par with wireline fiber networks.
But 5G is about more than just a bandwidth boost. 5G will deliver some entirely new capabilities – like ultra-reliable low latency – as well. So this is a horse of a different color.
And rolling out new 5G networks and capabilities will entail more than simply deploying radio access equipment. It will also require new fiber optic facilities to support it.
For example, 5G calls for new fronthaul facilities to connect remote radio heads to centralized baseband units.
How can network operators prepare? Well, here are five key areas within the wireline network that will need to be upgraded and modernized to support 5G. That will allow for intelligent traffic coordination between multiple remote radios, a single secure site to manage, and better scalability.
Speaking of scalability, 5G will also require a big increase in backhaul capacity. Studies suggest that 5G networks will be able to deliver 500 megabit per second connections to three-fourths of users and sites, 1 gigabit per second connections to 20 percent of the group, and 10 gigabits per second to the other 5 percent. But that will require a lot of fiber backhaul.
And with 5G there will be many more cells connecting to backhaul facilities. That’s because 5G is expected to leverage more small cells to support higher connection rates, and add network density indoors and out.
Virtualization will also play a bigger role in 5G networks than the cellular networks that came before it. And because 5G takes bandwidth to a new high and latency to a new low, users will be able to run an incredible array of applications on these networks. And network slicing will enable them to carve out a unique piece of the 5G network that meets the specific requirements of their unique applications.
Edited by Maurice Nagle