Demystifying 5G: How it'll power life

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Demystifying 5G: How itll power life
The speed with which our networks are evolving is astounding, and it will only grow with the growing demand.

Dubai - It will revolutionise the way we live, power smart cities

By Saleem AlBlooshi

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Published: Thu 17 Aug 2017, 5:29 PM

Last updated: Thu 17 Aug 2017, 7:32 PM

The world of information and communications technologies is abuzz with speculation about 5G and the benefits that it will bring for both corporate and individual users. Just like its predecessors, 5G is an intangible technology that will only demonstrate its true worth to society after it has been deployed. Despite continued speculation about this technology and what it will enable, telecommunications operators can still prepare their network for the future of 5G based on what we know today.
Mobility forms an integral part of life for millions of people around the world today. As such, we expect mobility only to proliferate in the future. In our region, we have already witnessed its rapid evolution, and many operators have deployed LTE technologies to offer faster access with lower latency and higher efficiency than its predecessors 3G and 3.5G.
The speed with which our networks are evolving is astounding, and it will only grow with the growing demand. In the UAE, for example, we are in the process of building a smart city and 5G use cases will drive the future solution providing wireless access to people and devices. It is vital for operators to invest in these use cases and build their own 5G capabilities to be viable players in this future market. If there is one thing that is certain about 5G today, it's that there will be no 5G big bang; 5G comprises many components that will be evolved in our 5G journey.
While 5G will have massive impacts on industry, let's discuss the benefits for the end user. One of the most impactful benefits of 5G for users, particularly in this region where online video consumption exceeds the global norm, is that upload and download speeds will increase due to super-low latency and increased spectrum. Furthermore, consumers will benefit from improved healthcare, not only through ease of access to information - something which we are seeing with blockchain technology today - but also the ability for surgeons to perform remote surgeries. Additionally, 5G is expected to reduce costs, and improve efficiency for both individuals and enterprises. And this is just a sneak peek into the benefits of 5G - for them to succeed, we all have to do our bit in terms of use cases to become ready for our 5G future. The use cases for 5G will shape the development of the 5G networks and the future commercial deployments. It is clear, now, that there will be three main categories of use cases for the 5G networks, and these are enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), Ultra Reliable Low-Latency Communication (uRLLC) and Massive Machine-Type Communication (mMTC).
For enhanced mobile broadband, use cases will require 10Gbps peak speeds, 10Mbps cell edge (minimum speed guarantees), and wide area coverage - with focus on indoor coverage guarantees. This category highlights the broad range of growing and new use cases of the "always-on" fully connected society. New uses will certainly include augmented reality, multi-user interaction, and even 3D services. We foresee that these services will be among the ones which play an increasingly significant role in the 2020+ timeframe. For ultra-reliable low-latency communications requirements, 5G has to provide not only higher speeds, but also a user-plane latency of less than 1ms over the radio access network. This is crucial for the cloud services and remote real-time control for M2M systems.
In this type of application, monitoring and control occur in real time, E2E latency requirements are very low (at millisecond levels), and the need for reliability is great. The performance objectives of mMTC will be applied to workflows such as the automation of energy distribution in a smart grid, in industrial process control and sensor networking where there are stringent requirements in terms of reliability and low latency at the application layer.
A generic use case, the massive number of geographically dispersed devices falls under the mMTC service. It may be a question of devices connected to parking meters in a city, or asset tracking in an industrial site, for example. Most of these devices are characterised by low cost/complexity (half-duplex, low-power, single-antennae), long battery life (more than 10 years) and have significantly improved coverage (a 15-20dB better link margin than LTE). They are mostly static and largely generate traffic on the uplink. Recently, NB-IoT was finalised by the 3GPP in 2016, and it addresses most of these requirements.
Based on the above three main categories of use-cases, and the candidate technologies and architectures, it is important for operators to start preparing their networks for this future 5G technology.
The writer is executive vice-president for infrastructure and technology at du. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

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