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5G is the fifth generation of wireless communications technologies supporting cellular data networks. 5G communication requires the use of communications devices (mostly mobile phones) designed to support the technology.
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Introduced Late 2018
The frequency spectrum of 5G is divided into millimeter waves, mid-band, and low-band. Low-band uses a similar frequency range as the predecessor, 4G. 5G millimeter wave is the fastest, with actual speeds often being 1–2 Gbit/s down. Frequencies are above 24 GHz, reaching up to 72 GHz, which is above the extremely high-frequency band’s lower boundary. The reach is short, so more cells are required. Millimeter waves have difficulty traversing many walls and windows, so indoor coverage is limited.
5G mid-band is the most widely deployed, in over 30 networks. Speeds in a 100 MHz wide band are usually 100–400 Mbit/s down. In the lab and occasionally in the field, speeds can go over a gigabit per second. Frequencies deployed are from 2.4 GHz to 4.2 GHz. Sprint and China Mobile are using 2.5 GHz, while others are mostly between 3.3 and 4.2 GHz. Many areas can be covered simply by upgrading existing towers, which lowers the cost. Mid-band networks have better reach, bringing the cost close to the cost of 4G. 5G low-band offers similar capacity to advanced 4G.
In the United States, T-Mobile and AT&T launched low-band services on the first week of December 2019. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray warns that speeds on their 600 MHz 5G may be as low as 25 Mbit/s down. AT&T, using 850 MHz, will also usually deliver less than 100 Mbit/s in 2019. The performance will improve, but cannot be significantly greater than robust 4G in the same spectrum.
Verizon, AT&T, and almost all 5G providers in 2019 have latencies between 25–35 milliseconds. The “air latency” (between a phone and a tower) in 2019 equipment is 8–12 ms. The latency to the server, farther back in the network, raise the average to ~30 ms, 25–40% lower than typical 4G deployed. Adding “Edge Servers” close to the towers can bring latency down to 10–20 ms. Lower latency, such as the often touted 1 ms, is years away and does not include the time to the server.
The industry project 3GPP defines any system using “5G NR” (5G New Radio) software as, “5G”, a definition that came into general use by late 2018. Previously, some reserved the term 5G for systems that deliver download speeds of 20 Gbit/s shared called for by ITU IMT-2020. 3GPP will submit their 5G NR to the ITU. In addition to traditional mobile operator services, 5G NR also addresses specific requirements for private mobile networks ranging from industrial IoT to critical communications.
5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into small geographical areas called cells. Analog signals representing sounds and images are digitized in the telephone, converted by an analog to digital converter and transmitted as a stream of bits. All the 5G wireless devices in a cell communicate by radio waves with a local antenna array and low power automated transceiver (transmitter and receiver) in the cell, over frequency channels assigned by the transceiver from a pool of frequencies that are reused in other cells. The local antennas are connected with the telephone network and the Internet by a high-bandwidth optical fiber or wireless backhaul connection. As in other cell networks, a mobile device crossing from one cell to another is automatically “handed off” seamlessly to the new cell.
Verizon and a few others are using millimeter waves. Millimeter waves have shorter range than microwaves, therefore the cells are limited to smaller size. Millimeter waves also have more trouble passing through building walls. Millimeter wave antennas are smaller than the large antennas used in previous cellular networks. Some are only a few inches (several centimeters) long.
Massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output), was deployed in 4G as early as 2016. Massive MIMO, typically uses 32 to 128 small antennas at each cell. In the right frequencies and configuration, it can increase performance from 4 to 10 times. Multiple bitstreams of data are transmitted simultaneously. In a technique called beamforming, the base station computer will continuously calculate the best route for radio waves to reach each wireless device, and will organize multiple antennas to work together as phased arrays to create beams of millimeter waves to reach the device.
The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, created and revised by the 3GPP. The family is a full revision from GSM in terms of encoding methods and hardware, although some GSM sites can be retrofitted to broadcast in the UMTS/W-CDMA format.
T-Mobile USA and AT&T are announcing low-band 5G in December 2019. The performance, reach, and cost will be similar to 4G in the same band when the 5G systems are fully developed and can access more carrier frequencies.
The new 5G wireless devices also have 4G LTE capability, as the new networks use 4G for initially establishing the connection with the cell, as well as in locations where 5G access is not available.
5G can support up to a million devices per square kilometer, while 4G supports only up to 100,000 devices per square kilometer.
The ITU-R has defined three main uses for 5G. They are Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC). Only eMBB is deployed in 202-; URLLC and mMTC are several years away in most locations.
Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) uses 5G as a progression from 4G LTE mobile broadband services, with faster connections, higher throughput, and more capacity.
Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) refer to using the network for mission critical applications that require uninterrupted and robust data exchange.
Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC) would be used to connect to a large number of devices, 5G technology will connect some of the 50 billion connected IoT devices. Most will use the less expensive Wi-Fi. Drones, transmitting via 4G or 5G, will aid in disaster recovery efforts, providing real-time data for emergency responders. Most cars will have a 4G or 5G cellular connection for many services. Autonomous cars do not require 5G, as they have to be able to operate where they do not have a network connection. While remote surgeries have been performed over 5G, most remote surgery will be performed in facilities with a fiber connection, usually faster and more reliable than any wireless connection.
5G speeds will range from ~50 Mbit/s to over 2 Gbit/s at the start. The fastest 5G, known as mmWave, delivers speeds of up to and over 2 Gbit/s. As of July 3, 2019, mmWave had a top speed of 1.8 Gbit/s on AT&T’s 5G network.
Sub-6 GHz 5G (mid-band 5G), by far the most common, will usually deliver between 100 and 400 Mbit/s, but will have a much farther reach than mmWave, especially outdoors.
Low-band spectrum offers the farthest area coverage but is slower than the others.
5G NR speed in sub-6 GHz bands can be slightly higher than the 4G with a similar amount of spectrum and antennas, although some 3GPP 5G networks will be slower than some advanced 4G networks, such as T-Mobile’s LTE/LAA network, which achieves 500+ Mbit/s in Manhattan and Chicago. The 5G specification allows LAA (License Assisted Access) as well, but LAA in 5G has not yet been demonstrated. Adding LAA to an existing 4G configuration can add hundreds of megabits per second to the speed, but this is an extension of 4G, not a new part of the 5G standard.
The similarity in terms of throughput between 4G and 5G in the existing bands is because 4G already approaches the Shannon limit on data communication rates. 5G speeds in the less common millimeter wave spectrum, with its much more abundant bandwidth and shorter range, and hence greater frequency reuseability, can be substantially higher.
In 5G, the “air latency” in equipment shipping in 2019 is 8–12 milliseconds. The latency to the server must be added to the “air latency”. Verizon reports the latency on its 5G early deployment is 30 ms: Edge Servers close to the towers can reduce latency to 10–20 ms; 1–4 ms will be extremely rare for years outside the lab.
Initially, the term was associated with the International Telecommunication Union‘s IMT-2020 standard, which required a theoretical peak download speed of 20 gigabits per second and 10 gigabits per second upload speed, along with other requirements. Then, the industry standards group 3GPP chose the 5G NR (New Radio) standard together with LTE as their proposal for submission to the IMT-2020 standard.
The first phase of 3GPP 5G specifications in Release-15 is scheduled to complete in 2019. The second phase in Release-16 is due to be completed in 2020.
5G NR can include lower frequencies (FR1), below 6 GHz, and higher frequencies (FR2), above 24 GHz. However, the speed and latency in early FR1 deployments, using 5G NR software on 4G hardware (non-standalone), are only slightly better than new 4G systems, estimated at 15 to 50% better.
IEEE covers several areas of 5G with a core focus in wireline sections between the Remote Radio Head (RRH) and Base Band Unit (BBU). The 1914.1 standards focus on network architecture and dividing the connection between the RRU and BBU into two key sections. Radio Unit (RU) to the Distributor Unit (DU) being the NGFI-I (Next Generation Fronthaul Interface) and the DU to the Central Unit (CU) being the NGFI-II interface allowing a more diverse and cost-effective network. NGFI-I and NGFI-II have defined performance values which should be compiled to ensure different traffic types defined by the ITU are capable of being carried. 1914.3 standard is creating a new Ethernet frame format capable of carrying IQ data in a much more efficient way depending on the functional split utilized. This is based on the 3GPP definition of functional splits. Multiple network synchronization standards within the IEEE groups are being updated to ensure network timing accuracy at the RU is maintained to a level required for the traffic carried over it.
- 5GTF: The 5G network implemented by American carrier Verizon for Fixed Wireless Access in late 2010s uses a pre-standard specification known as 5GTF (Verizon 5G Technical Forum). The 5G service provided to customers in this standard is incompatible with 5G NR. There are plans to upgrade 5GTF to 5G NR “Once [it] meets our strict specifications for our customers,” according to Verizon.
- 5G-SIG: Pre-standard specification of 5G developed by KT Corporation. Deployed at Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.
Internet of Things
Beyond mobile operator networks, 5G is also expected to be used for private networks with applications in industrial IoT, enterprise networking, and critical communications.
Initial 5G NR launches depended on existing LTE (4G) infrastructure in non-standalone (NSA) mode (5G NR software on LTE radio hardware), before maturation of the standalone (SA) mode (5G NR software on 5G NR radio hardware) with the 5G core network.
As of April 2019, the Global Mobile Suppliers Association had identified 224 operators in 88 countries that have demonstrated, are testing or trialling, or have been licensed to conduct field trials of 5G technologies, are deploying 5G networks or have announced service launches). The equivalent numbers in November 2018 were 192 operators in 81 countries. The first country to adopt 5G on a large scale was South Korea, in April 2019. Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson predicted that 5G internet will cover up to 65% of the world’s population by the end of 2025. Also, it plans to invest 1 billion reais ($238.30 million) in Brazil to add a new assembly line dedicated to fifth-generation technology (5G) for its Latin American operations.
When South Korea launched its 5G network, all carriers used Samsung, Ericsson, and Nokia base stations and equipment, except for LG U Plus, who also used Huawei equipment. Samsung was the largest supplier for 5G base stations in South Korea at launch, having shipped 53,000 base stations at the time, out of 86,000 base stations installed across the country at the time.
The first fairly substantial deployments were in April 2019. In South Korea, SK Telecom claimed 38,000 base stations, KT Corporation 30,000 and LG U Plus 18,000; of which 85% are in six major cities. They are using 3.5 GHz (sub-6) spectrum in non-standalone (NSA) mode and tested speeds were from 193 to 430 Mbit/s down. 260,000 signed up in the first month and 4.7 million by the end of 2019.
Large quantities of new radio spectrum (5G NR frequency bands) have been allocated to 5G. For example, in July 2016, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) freed up vast amounts of bandwidth in underused high-band spectrum for 5G. The Spectrum Frontiers Proposal (SFP) doubled the amount of millimeter-wave unlicensed spectrum to 14 GHz and created four times the amount of flexible, mobile-use spectrum the FCC had licensed to date. In March 2018, European Union lawmakers agreed to open up the 3.6 and 26 GHz bands by 2020.
As of March 2019, there are reportedly 52 countries, territories, special administrative regions, disputed territories and dependencies that are formally considering introducing certain spectrum bands for terrestrial 5G services, are holding consultations regarding suitable spectrum allocations for 5G, have reserved spectrum for 5G, have announced plans to auction frequencies or have already allocated spectrum for 5G use.
MNOs are increasingly using unlicensed spectrum in the 2.4- and 5-gigahertz (GHz) frequency bands. 4G and 5G networks also use these bands to offload traffic in heavily congested areas and provide connectivity for billions of IoT devices. Advancements in Wi-Fi, LTE in Unlicensed spectrum (LTE-U), License Assisted Access (LAA), and MulteFire use 4G & 5G technologies in these bands.
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, the first smartphone able to connect to 5G networks
In March 2019, the Global Mobile Suppliers Association released the industry’s first database tracking worldwide 5G device launches. In it, the GSA identified 23 vendors who have confirmed the availability of forthcoming 5G devices with 33 different devices including regional variants. There were seven announced 5G device form factors: (telephones (×12 devices), hotspots (×4), indoor and outdoor customer-premises equipment (×8), modules (×5), Snap-on dongles and adapters (×2), and USB terminals (×1)). By October 2019, the number of announced 5G devices had risen to 129, across 15 form factors, from 56 vendors.
In the 5G IoT chipset arena, as of April 2019 there were four commercial 5G modem chipsets and one commercial processor/platform, with more launches expected in the near future.
On March 6, 2020 the first-ever all-5G smartphone Samsung Galaxy S20 was released. According to Business Insider, the 5G feature was showcased as more expensive in comparison with 46; the line up starts at US$1,000, in comparison with Samsung Galaxy S10e which started at US $750. On March 19, HMD Global, the current maker of Nokia-branded phones, announced the Nokia 8.3, which it claimed as having a wider range of 5G compatibility than any other phone released to that time. The mid-range model, with an initial Eurozone price of €599, is claimed to support all 5G bands from 600 MHz to 3.8 GHz.
Availability by country or region.
Telstra began its 5G service in areas of Sydney and Melbourne in May 2019 with plans to roll out the service to other cities in the coming years. Optus has also switched on 5G in limited areas, and are currently expanding their 5G network across Australia. Vodafone’s 5G network is expected to go live in mid-2020.
Argentina expects deployment of 5G around the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020 according to some reports or in 2021 or 2022 according to a different estimate. In late 2017, a lab test of a 5G system achieved a download speed of 20 Gbit/s. A single terminal in a shopping center in Buenos Aires was experimentally equipped with 5G in early 2019. Its download speeds were as high as 700 Mbit/s.
Initial showcase of 5G network was demonstrated to reach 2.2 Gbit/s in February 2018 by the local telecommunication provider A1. The operator received license for a 5G frequency in 2019 and test implementation with 5G equipment by Nokia was first demonstrated. Availability for the end users is expected in 2020.
The government of Canada announced a planned roll out of 5G in 2019. An auction for the 5G spectrum is expected in 2020, a decision on a higher frequency spectrum in 2021, and a new frequency proposal by 2022. The government has committed to an investment of $199 million over the course of five years in order to modernize spectrum equipment; wireless operators are expected to invest $26 billion, and have already invested $17.6 billion. The roll out will be location based, with initial availability decisions being based on the type of community—city, urban, or rural. Among other benefits, the 5G network is expected to help connect Canada’s under-served rural communities. It is currently undecided as to whether or not Canada will use Huawei products as part of their infrastructure. Both Bell and Telus have deployment plans involving the company, whereas Rogers does not.
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Discount prepaid carriers such as Public Mobile and Chatr aren’t expected to upgrade to 5G for a number of years.
China has launched its 5G national network and started commercial operation on 1 November 2019. At launch, Chinese state media called it the world’s largest 5G network.
Finland held an auction for 5G spectrum in 2018. In this the three telecom operators Elisa, DNA and Telia all won a license to use the 3.5 GHz spectrum for 5G networks. As of March 3, 2020, all three have commercial network in few cities, Elisa operating in most (11 cities), but all three are expanding their coverage throughout 2020.
Germany held an auction for 5G spectrum in June 2019. The winning companies are committed to providing 5G coverage to 98% of households by 2022.
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Hong Kong held an auction for 5G spectrum in October 2019, with a total of 200 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band auctioned off to four mobile network operators at a total of HK$1.006 billion. The operators are China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK), Hong Kong Telecom (HKT), Hutchison Telecom, and SmarTone.
On 1 April 2020, three operators including CMHK, HKT, and Hutchison officially launched their 5G services and tariff plans to the public.
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On 23 February 2018, Bharti Airtel and Chinese multinational telecom gear Huawei have successfully conducted India’s first 5G network trial under a test setup at the former’s network experience centre in Manesar, Gurugram. However, the Indian government is looking to ban Huawei from future 5G spectrum auctions due to security reasons. In response, Airtel made a statement stating that it may look for alternatives for 5G as it no longer wishes to continue with Huawei infrastructures. Nevertheless, Huawei urged the Department of Telecom to make an independent decision on 5G rollout. Huawei, further said that it won’t invest more if government denies permission for 5G auctions. The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Ravesh Kumar, said that the Indian government will take a call on this issue. A Telecom Committee is all-set to look up on this matter, from various ministries and departments. Whatever fits in economic and security interest, the committee will decide on this.
In August 2019, the Chinese government increased its pressure on India not to ban Huawei, indicating it could retaliate against Indian companies doing business in China. While Australia and the United Kingdom have expressed their concerns over cyber security of India. Australian national security and cyber officials have also warned India over security threats of Huawei. In Indian Economic Summit 2019, Wilbur Ross said that the U.S. hopes that India “does not inadvertently subject itself to untoward security risk” by using 5G equipment from the Chinese tech giant and mentioned that India should take its own decision on Huawei. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued, white paper press statement stating that 5G is set to transform communication networks and will bring massive growth in Indian economy by 2021. TRAI has also ordered telecom companies to identify specific use causes for 5G launch.
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In August 2019, Vodafone Ireland switched on 5G connectivity in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford cities initially, with a view to expanding its network over time.
Eir switched on 100 sites across 10 towns and cities during October 2019 with plans to add another 100 sites by the end of the year. Telecom Imagine offers fixed 5G broadband in mostly rural areas of the country which do not have fibre broadband.
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Service availability before July 2020 (2020 Summer Olympics).
SoftBank: SoftBank to be first in Japan to launch 5G services, on March 27. Offering test services for the Japanese national basketball team’s reinforced match held at Saitama Super Arena on August 22.
KDDI(au): Developed a mechanism to be used for security at venues linked to drones (small unmanned aerial vehicles) and robot cameras. A test service is scheduled to start after autumn.
NTT DoCoMo: Will launch on March. Provides sports watching services using 5G at Rugby World Cup 2019.
Rakuten: The new telecom joins with 5G.
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Because the Dutch government must move a ground satellite system that would interfere with 5G to a new location, an auction of the 3.5GHz range (commonly associated with 5G) is being postponed—expected in early 2022.
After early 5G trials in August 2019, Vodafone NZ launched its 5G service in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurchand Queenstown on December 10, 2019, with plans to roll out the service to other cities in 2020.Vodafone has partnered with Nokia to provide 5G.
In Norway, the first 5G-test was done in 2017. Telenor launched 5G in Elverum in September 2019, planning to launch in Trondheim soon after. Competitor Ice claimed to be ready for 5G in Oslo and Akershus, Drammen, Bergen, Fredrikstad, Sarpsborg, Stavanger og Sandnes, Trondheim, Skien, Porsgrunn and Kristiansand in November 2019. Telia plan to start their 5G network in 2020, with full national coverage by 2023.
On 22 August 2019, Zong became the first network to test 5G in Pakistan. The tests were conducted by Pakistani telecom company Zong along with Chinese telecom gear company Huawei at Zong‘s headquarters in Islamabad. On 6 January 2020, Zong claimed that it had successfully completed South Asia’s first official 5G video call.
Telenor Pakistan is also working on implementing 5G in Pakistan.
Jazz, Pakistan’s largest network in terms of registered users, also successfully conducted 5G tests using Huawei equipment on 4 January 2020 in Islamabad. According to officials, Pakistan Telecommunication Authorityallotted Jazz with a trial spectrum of 100 MHz from 2600 MHz band for its 5G network for six months which is extendable. As a result, the company successfully integrated a 5G site to its network, where the live testing of the 5G equipment was showcased to the media. Currently, Jazz is authorized to conduct public trials of its 5G network at five locations in Islamabad: F8, G7, E7, and some areas of Blue Area.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority hopes 5G will be available in Pakistan by 2021. The commercial launch of 5G in Pakistan is currently dependent on Pakistan Telecommunication Authority agreeing a regulatory and policy framework, which has yet to be finalized. But trials conducted by Jazz, and Zong indicate that operators have done their part. However, due to recent economic recession, 4G services haven’t been able to scale at a reasonable rate by operators who feel financially squeezed. This could delay the commercial launch of 5G in Pakistan. Currently, PTA has granted permission to PMCL (Jazz) and CMPak (Zong) for six months to conduct test and trial of 5G technology under limited environment.
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5G in the Philippines started in 2016 when Smart Communications tested 5G and recorded a speed of 2.5 Gbit/s and 14.97 Gbit/s in its Technolab test in 2018, laying the groundwork for 5G infrastructure in the country.
Globe Telecom started offering 5G services in the Philippines since July 2019, making Philippines the first country to roll out 5G network in Southeast Asia, and third in Asia after South Korea and Japan. Huaweibeing Globe Telecom’s long time partner ensures that the Philippines will be ahead of other countries in developing its 5G spectrum.
The country’s largest telecom PLDT is also planning to roll out its 5G services in the 4th quarter of 2019 tapping Nokia and Finland’s Erricson as their technology provider but was delayed. Recently, PLDT CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan announced he is tapping Huawei to provide 5G network in the first quarter of 2020. The telco titan forged a partnership with the Araneta Group to launch 5G technology in Araneta City, which will be transformed into the country’s first Smart 5G Lifestyle Hub. Local telecoms are also ramping up their 5G infrastructure investment through the help of other 5G technology providers.
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State-owned Exatel was the first company to conduct the test of 5G connectivity in Poland in 2017. In December 2018, T-Mobile launched first 5G tests in Warsaw with hardware from Huawei, and Katowice and Orange Polska in Gliwice. In March 2019, Orange Polska together with Ericsson launched test in Zakopane, followed by Warsaw in September and together with Nokia in Lublin in October of the same year. In July 2019, Play launched another tests in Toruń and Grójec, using hardware from Huawei. In October, 2019, T-Mobile launched an experimental 5G installation in Kraków. The network created together with Nokia was activated in the headquarters of hub:raum innovation center. Its signal was available only inside the building for the T-Mobile business partners and startups cooperating with the innovation centre.
In 2020 the auction will be held by The Office of Electronic Communications to allocate further frequencies for 5G.
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Starting May 2019, Vodafone Romania offer 5G connectivity in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Mamaia.
In June 2019, “Huawei signed a deal with Russia’s largest telecoms operator MTS to develop 5G technologies and launch a fifth-generation network in Russia within the next year.”
Rain, one of the smaller telecommunication players in South Africa, launched 5G in September 2019, to be used as a home internet service.
The two biggest telecommunications providers in South Africa, MTN and Vodacom, don’t have commercial 5G services as of March 2020.
South Korea (Republic of Korea)
By the middle of June 2019, South Korea had over one million 5G subscribers.
Thailand held an auction for 5G spectrum in February 16, 2020. On February 24, 2020, AIS announced the official launch of the First 5G service Commercial in Thailand. On March 17, 2020, TrueMove H has become Thailand’s second operator to launch commercial 5G services after receiving its 2.6GHz spectrum licence.
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Video produced by the FCC about 5G in the United States
The four major US carriers have announced plans to deploy 5G in 2019, beginning with major metropolitan areas. On July 31, Atlanta became the first city to have it available from all four carriers.
T-Mobile launched nationwide 5G on December 2, 2019.
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In June 2019, Senators John Thune and Brian Schatz introduced the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act (S. 1699), a proposal to limit local government involvement in the location of 5G equipment. The bill was referred to committee, but never voted upon.
On March 27, 2019, Senator John Cornyn introduced the Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020 (S. 893), a bill that would require the President to develop a security strategy in regards to 5G and other next generation telecommunications systems and infrastructure. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law on March 23, 2020.
Viettel was handed the country’s first licence to trial 5G in January 2019 and tests were launched in Hanoi in cooperation with Swedish vendor Ericsson in May. The test permit is valid for one year until 21 January 2020 and allows the firm to trial the technology in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The military-owned company, which plans to launch commercial 5G services in 2020, announced that data connection speeds ranged from 1.5 Gbit/s to 1.7 Gbit/s. A third cellco, MobiFone, is expected to test 5G in Hanoi, Hai Phong and Da Nang. On 17 September 2019, Viettel started installation of 5G testing infrastructure, which was eventually released on 20 September.
Oreedoo claims all major cities are covered by 5G network. Vodafone Qatar also offers 5G.
In other countries
- Mexico could begin 5G service in 2021, according to José Otero, director for Latin America and the Caribbean of 5G Américas.
- Sweden plans to begin rolling 5G services out sometime in 2020.
- Panama plans to begin rolling out 5G in 2020–2021 using Huawei equipment for all infrastructure.
New radio frequencies
The air interface defined by 3GPP for 5G is known as New Radio (NR), and the specification is subdivided into two frequency bands, FR1 (below 6 GHz) and FR2 (mmWave), each with different capabilities.
Frequency range 1 (< 6 GHz)
The maximum channel bandwidth defined for FR1 is 100 MHz, due to the scarcity of continuous spectrum in this crowded frequency range. The band most widely being used for 5G in this range is 3.3–4.2 GHz. The Korean carriers are using 3.5 GHz although some millimeter wave spectrum has also been allocated.
Frequency range 2 (> 24 GHz)
The minimum channel bandwidth defined for FR2 is 50 MHz and the maximum is 400 MHz, with two-channel aggregation supported in 3GPP Release 15. In the U.S., Verizon is using 28 GHz and AT&T is using 39 GHz. 5G can use frequencies of up to 300 GHz. The higher the frequency, the greater the ability to support high data-transfer speeds.
5G in the 24 GHz range or above use higher frequencies than 4G, and as a result, some 5G signals are not capable of traveling large distances (over a few hundred meters), unlike 4G or lower frequency 5G signals (sub 6 GHz). This requires placing 5G base stations every few hundred meters in order to use higher frequency bands. Also, these higher frequency 5G signals cannot penetrate solid objects easily, such as cars, trees, and walls, because of the nature of these higher frequency electromagnetic waves. 5G cells can be deliberately designed to be as inconspicuous as possible, which finds applications in places like restaurants and shopping malls.
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Massive MIMO (multiple input and multiple output) antennas increases sector throughput and capacity density using large numbers of antennas and Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO). Each antenna is individually-controlled and may embed radio transceiver components. Nokia claimed a five-fold increase in the capacity increase for a 64-Tx/64-Rx antenna system. The term “massive MIMO” was coined by Nokia Bell Labs researcher Dr. Thomas L. Marzetta in 2010, and has been launched in 4G networks, such as Softbank in Japan.
Of more than 562 separate 5G demonstrations, tests or trials globally of 5G technologies, at least 94 of them have involved testing Massive MIMO in the context of 5G.
Edge computing is delivered by computing servers closer to the ultimate user. It reduces latency and data traffic congestion.
Small cells are low-powered cellular radio access nodes that operate in licensed and unlicensed spectrum that have a range of 10 meters to a few kilometers. Small cells are critical to 5G networks, as 5G’s radio waves can’t travel long distances, because of 5G’s higher frequencies.
Beamforming, as the name suggests, is used to direct radio waves to a target. This is achieved by combining elements in an antenna array in such a way that signals at particular angles experience constructive interference while others experience destructive interference. This improves signal quality and data transfer speeds. 5G uses beamforming due to the improved signal quality it provides. Beamforming can be accomplished using phased array antennas.
One expected benefit of the transition to 5G is the convergence of multiple networking functions to achieve cost, power, and complexity reductions. LTE has targeted convergence with Wi-Fi band/technology via various efforts, such as License Assisted Access (LAA; 5G signal in unlicensed frequency bands that are also used by Wi-Fi) and LTE-WLAN Aggregation (LWA; convergence with Wi-Fi Radio), but the differing capabilities of cellular and Wi-Fi have limited the scope of convergence. However, significant improvement in cellular performance specifications in 5G, combined with migration from Distributed Radio Access Network (D-RAN) to Cloud- or Centralized-RAN (C-RAN) and rollout of cellular small cells can potentially narrow the gap between Wi-Fi and cellular networks in dense and indoor deployments. Radio convergence could result in sharing ranging from the aggregation of cellular and Wi-Fi channels to the use of a single silicon device for multiple radio access technologies.
NOMA (non-orthogonal multiple access)
NOMA (non-orthogonal multiple access) is a proposed multiple-access technique for future cellular systems via allocation of power.
Initially, cellular mobile communications technologies were designed in the context of providing voice services and Internet access. Today a new era of innovative tools and technologies is inclined towards developing a new pool of applications. This pool of applications consists of different domains such as the Internet of Things (IoT), web of connected autonomous vehicles, remotely controlled robots, and heterogeneous sensors connected to serve versatile applications. In this context, network slicing has emerged as a key technology to efficiently embrace this new market model.
Operation in unlicensed spectrum
Like LTE in unlicensed spectrum, 5G NR will also support operation in unlicensed spectrum (NR-U). In addition to License Assisted Access (LAA) from LTE that enable carriers to use those unlicensed spectrum to boost their operational performance for users, in 5G NR it will support standalone NR-U unlicensed operation that will allow new 5G NR networks to be established in different environments without acquiring operational license in licensed spectrum, for instance for localized private network or lower the entry barrier for providing 5G internet services to the public.
The spectrum used by various 5G proposals will be near that of passive remote sensing such as by weather and Earth observation satellites, particularly for water vapor monitoring. Interference will occur and will potentially be significant without effective controls. An increase in interference already occurred with some other prior proximate band usages. Interference to satellite operations impairs numerical weather predictionperformance with substantially deleterious economic and public safety impacts in areas such as commercial aviation.
The concerns prompted U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in February 2019 to urge the FCC to delay some spectrum auction proposals, which was rejected. The chairs of the House Appropriations Committee and House Science Committee wrote separate letters to FCC chair Ajit Paiasking for further review and consultation with NOAA, NASA, and DoD, and warning of harmful impacts to national security. Acting NOAA director Neil Jacobs testified before the House Committee in May 2019 that 5G out-of-band emissions could produce a 30% reduction in weather forecast accuracy and that the resulting degradation in ECMWF model performance would have resulted in failure to predict the track and thus the impact of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The United States Navy in March 2019 wrote a memorandum warning of deterioration and made technical suggestions to control band bleed-over limits, for testing and fielding, and for coordination of the wireless industry and regulators with weather forecasting organizations.
At the 2019 quadrennial World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), atmospheric scientists advocated for a strong buffer of −55 decibel watts (dBW), European regulators agreed on a recommendation of −42 dBW, and US regulators (the FCC) recommended a restriction of −20 dBW, which is 150 times weaker than the European proposal. The ITU decided on an intermediate −33 dBW until 1 September 2027 and after that a standard of −39 dBW. This is closer to the European recommendation but even the delayed higher standard is much weaker than that pleaded for by atmospheric scientists, triggering warnings from the World Meteorological Organization(WMO) that the ITU standard, at 10 times less stringent than its recommendation, brings the “potential to significantly degrade the accuracy of data collected”. A representative of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) also warned of interference, and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts(ECMWF), sternly warned, saying that society risks “history repeat[ing] itself” by ignoring atmospheric scientists’ warnings (referencing global warming, monitoring of which could be imperiled). In December 2019, a bipartisan request was sent from the US House Science Committee to the Government Accountability Office(GAO) to investigate why there is such a discrepancy between recommendations of US civilian and military science agencies and the regulator, the FCC.
Due to fears of potential espionage of users of Chinese equipment vendors, several countries (including the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom as of early 2019) have taken actions to restrict or eliminate the use of Chinese equipment in their respective 5G networks. Chinese vendors and the Chinese government have denied these claims.
A report published by the European Commission and European Agency for Cybersecurity details the security issues surrounding 5G while trying to avoid mentioning Huawei. The report warns against using a single supplier for a carrier’s 5G infrastructure, specially those based outside the European Union. (Nokia and Ericsson are the only European manufacturers of 5G equipment.
It has been alleged that the United States via the FBI, the UK via GCHQ and other intelligence agencies have sought to adjust 5G standards through 3GPP in order to allow as much metadata as possible to be collected for mass surveillance purposes.
Concerns have been raised about the visual impact of 5G transmitters on historically and environmentally sensitive areas.
In August 2019, a court in the United States decided that 5G technology will not be deployed without environmental impact and historic preservation reviews.
On October 18, 2018, a team of researchers from ETH Zurich, the University of Lorraine and the University of Dundee released a paper entitled, “A Formal Analysis of 5G Authentication”. It alerted that 5G technology could open ground for a new era of security threats. The paper described the technology as “immature and insufficiently tested,” the one that “enables the movement and access of vastly higher quantities of data, and thus broadens attack surfaces”. Simultaneously, network security companies such as Fortinet, Arbor Networks, A10 Networks, and Voxility advised on personalized and mixed security deployments against massive DDoS attacks foreseen after 5G deployment.
IoT Analytics estimated an increase in the number of IoT devices, enabled by 5G technology, from 7 billion in 2018 to 21.5 billion by 2025. This can raise the attack surface for these devices to a substantial scale, and the capacity for DDoS attacks, cryptojacking, and other cyberattacks could boost proportionally.
An international appeal to the European Union made on September 13, 2017 garnered over 180 signatures from scientists representing 35 countries. They cite unproven concerns over the 10 to 20 billion connections to the 5G network and the subsequent increase in RF-EMF exposure affecting the global populace constantly. A further letter by many of the same scientists was written in January 2019, demanding a moratorium on 5G coverage in Europe until potential hazards for human health have been fully investigated.
In April 2019, the city of Brussels in Belgium blocked a 5G trial because of radiation laws. In Geneva, Switzerland, a planned upgrade to 5G was stopped for the same reason. The Swiss Telecommunications Association (ASUT) has said that studies have been unable to show that 5G frequencies have any health impact. Several Swiss cantons adopted moratoriums on 5G technology, though the federal offices in charge of environment and telecommunications say that the cantons have no jurisdiction to do so.
According to CNET, “Members of Parliament in the Netherlands are also calling on the government to take a closer look at 5G. Several leaders in Congress have written to the Federal Communications Commissionexpressing concern about potential health risks. In Mill Valley, California, the city council blocked the deployment of new 5G wireless cells.” Similar concerns were raised in Vermont and New Hampshire. After campaigning by activist groups, a series of small localities in the UK, including Totnes, Brighton and Hove, Glastonbury, and Frome passed resolutions against the implementation of further 5G infrastructure.
There have been a number of concerns over the spread of disinformation in the media and online regarding the potential health effects of 5G technology. Writing in The New York Times in 2019, William Broad reported that RT America began airing programming linking 5G to harmful health effects which “lack scientific support”, such as “brain cancer, infertility, autism, heart tumors, and Alzheimer’s disease”. Broad asserts that the claims had increased, RT America had run seven programs on this theme by mid-April 2019 but only one in the whole of 2018. The networks coverage had spread to hundreds of blogs and websites.
During the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, several far-right conspiracy theories circulating online posited a link between SARS-CoV-2 and 5G. This has led to arson attacks being made on telecom masts in the Netherlands, Ireland and Cyprus as well as in the UK (Dagenham, Huddersfield, Birmingham and Liverpool
Marketing of non-5G services
In various parts of the world, carriers have launched numerous differently branded technologies, such as “5G Evolution“, which advertise improving existing networks with the use of “5G technology”. However, these pre-5G networks are an improvement on specifications of existing LTE networks that are not exclusive to 5G. While the technology promises to deliver faster speeds, and is described by AT&T as a “foundation for our evolution to 5G while the 5G standards are being finalized,” it cannot be considered to be true 5G. When AT&T announced 5G Evolution, 4×4 MIMO, the technology that AT&T is using to deliver the faster speeds, had already been put in place by T-Mobile without being branded with the 5G moniker. It is claimed that such branding is a marketing move that will cause confusion with consumers, as it is not made clear that such improvements are not true 5G.
- In April 2008, NASA partnered with Geoff Brown and Machine-to-Machine Intelligence (M2Mi) Corp to develop 5G communications technology.
- In 2008, the South Korean IT R&D program of “5G mobile communication systems based on beam-division multiple access and relays with group cooperation” was formed.
- In August 2012, New York University founded NYU Wireless, a multi-disciplinary academic research centre that has conducted pioneering work in 5G wireless communications.
- On 8 October 2012, the UK’s University of Surrey secured £35M for a new 5G research centre, jointly funded by the British government’s UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) and a consortium of key international mobile operators and infrastructure providers, including Huawei, Samsung, TelefonicaEurope, Fujitsu Laboratories Europe, Rohde & Schwarz, and Aircom International. It will offer testing facilities to mobile operators keen to develop a mobile standard that uses less energy and less radio spectrum, while delivering speeds faster than current 4G with aspirations for the new technology to be ready within a decade.
- On 1 November 2012, the EU project “Mobile and wireless communications Enablers for the Twenty-twenty Information Society” (METIS) starts its activity toward the definition of 5G. METIS achieved an early global consensus on these systems. In this sense, METIS played an important role of building consensus among other external major stakeholders prior to global standardization activities. This was done by initiating and addressing work in relevant global fora (e.g. ITU-R), as well as in national and regional regulatory bodies.
- Also in November 2012, the iJOIN EU project was launched, focusing on “small cell” technology, which is of key importance for taking advantage of limited and strategic resources, such as the radio wave spectrum. According to Günther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society (2014–2019), “an innovative utilization of spectrum” is one of the key factors at the heart of 5G success. Oettinger further described it as “the essential resource for the wireless connectivity of which 5G will be the main driver”. iJOIN was selected by the European Commission as one of the pioneering 5G research projects to showcase early results on this technology at the Mobile World Congress 2015 (Barcelona, Spain).
- In February 2013, ITU-R Working Party 5D (WP 5D) started two study items: (1) Study on IMT Vision for 2020 and beyond, and; (2) Study on future technology trends for terrestrial IMT systems. Both aiming at having a better understanding of future technical aspects of mobile communications toward the definition of the next generation mobile.
- On 12 May 2013, Samsung Electronics stated that they had developed a “5G” system. The core technology has a maximum speed of tens of Gbit/s (gigabits per second). In testing, the transfer speeds for the “5G” network sent data at 1.056 Gbit/s to a distance of up to 2 kilometers with the use of an 8*8 MIMO.
- In July 2013, India and Israel agreed to work jointly on development of fifth generation (5G) telecom technologies.
- On 1 October 2013, NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone), the same company to launch world’s first 5G network in Japan, wins Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Award at CEATEC for 5G R&D efforts.
- On 6 November 2013, Huawei announced plans to invest a minimum of $600 million into R&D for next generation 5G networks capable of speeds 100 times faster than modern LTE networks.
- On 3 April 2019, South Korea became the first country to adopt 5G. Just hours later, Verizon launched its 5G services in the United States, and disputed South Korea’s claim of becoming the world’s first country with a 5G network, because allegedly, South Korea’s 5G service was launched initially for just six South Korean celebrities so that South Korea could claim the title of having the world’s first 5G network. In fact, the three main South Korean telecommunication companies (SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus) added more than 40,000 users to their 5G network on the launch day.
- In June 2019, Philippines became the first in Southeast Asia to roll out 5G network after Globe Telecom commercially launched its 5G data plans to customers.
- AT&T bring 5G service to consumers and businesses in December 2019 ahead of plans to offer nationwide 5G in the first half of 2020.
5G Automotive Association have been promoting the C-V2X communication technology that will first be deployed in 4G. It provides for communication between vehicles and communication between vehicles and infrastructures.
Mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) and mission-critical video and data are expected to be furthered in 5G.
Wireless video transmission for broadcast applications
Sony has tested the possibility of using local 5G networks to replace the SDI cables currently used in broadcast camcorders.
Major contributors- Wikipedia Team