What is 5G? Characteristics, Usages and Challenges


Malik Zakaria


August 21, 2018

The future of mobile communication is just around the corner: 5G technology. This new generation of wireless technology will increase speed, reduce latency, and provide a more secure and reliable connection for a wide range of users. Below, we explore the basics of new 5G technology, along with the latest 5G news and developments:

What is 5G?

The term ‘5G’ refers to the fifth generation of wireless technology. Every new number that precedes ‘G’ brings rapid advancements while also calling for updated infrastructure and technologies.

The switch from 3G to 4G delivered faster downloads and improved functionality (especially with Long Term Evolution, or LTE), but the move from 4G to 5G could be even more impressive. Experts believe the new 5G wireless network will deliver faster speeds and the ability to move more data. Additionally, 5G networking will reduce latency (lag time), thereby increasing responsiveness.

How Field Engineer will Help with 5G Deployment

Tech companies such as HP, Nokia, and Vodafone are on the hunt for skilled engineers who can address the challenges and intricacies of 5G deployment. Field Engineer will play a critical role in the deployment process by providing a valuable platform for companies looking to make the most of 5G.

Present in hundreds of countries, Field Engineer optimizes the hiring process, thereby removing considerable barriers to efficient 5G deployment. Telecommunications talent can be tricky to pinpoint, but Field Engineer offers access to employment potential that 5G carriers might otherwise miss.

What are the Different 5G Technologies?

5G networks will rely on an encoding system known as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM). Similar in many respects to the encoding associated with 4G LTE, the 5G edition of OFDM will continue to split one data stream across several channels and frequencies. Specifically, experts believe that 5G internet networks will be built upon a Cyclic-Prefix (CP) OFDM system. With OFDM, CP acts as a buffer region, thereby increasing network reliability.

The global standard for 5G is referred to as New Radio (NR). Developed from the ground up to ensure 5G functionality, NR will provide a “united air interface.” NR aims to provide a wide range of mobile devices with optimized connections to secure cloud services.

What are the Different 5G Use Cases?

The Study on New Services and Markets Technology Enablers (SMARTER) project have identified three main use cases (or service categories) for 5G:

Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB)

One of the most critical technologies for the new 5G mobile network, eMBB serves high-density areas by installing high-frequency antennas — each covering a small space approximately the size of a baseball diamond.

Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC)

As its name suggests, URLLC is designed to be incredibly reliable in “mission critical communications” such as self-driving cars or remote surgery.

Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC)

With mMTC, Internet of Things and machine-to-machine applications can be fully utilized without burdening other use cases for 5G devices. mMTC reduces bandwidth in select applications while also significantly reducing latency.

What is 5G Capability?

It will be some time before every device is equipped to handle 5G cellular service. The term ‘5G capability’ refers to a given device’s ability to handle this new generation of mobile technology. To begin, some carriers will provide 5G wireless capability by adding accessories to phones designed for 4G. This will allow users to enjoy enhanced 5G speed without sacrificing current 4G capability.

When mobile devices are fully 5G capable, they will operate primarily on 5G networks without requiring add-on accessories. These devices will enjoy the full range of benefits that 5G broadband is expected to provide.

What is 5G Data?

At its base level, 5G data refers to any data accessed via the fifth generation of mobile technology. The data itself may be exactly the same as 4G data, but the way it is accessed — and more importantly, the speed with which it’s accessed — may differ.

When a new generation of mobile technology becomes available, it’s not necessarily accessible at all times on all devices. With 4G, for example, many users deal with data caps on data accessed at 4G speeds. Unfortunately, data caps are also likely for 5G cellular networks — at least to begin.

What are the Differences between 4G and 5G?

First and foremost, 5G networking will be far faster than 4G. This is a given with each new generation of wireless technology; 5G is certainly no exception.

Enthusiasts are already itching for the answer to the question, “How fast is 5G?” While no exact figure is available just yet, experts anticipate speeds reaching 100 gigabits per second. In other words, 5G could be 1,000 times as fast as 4G. More conservative tests from Qualcomm anticipate browsing at 490 Mbps.

While speed offers a clear advantage, it’s by no means the only improvement on the horizon. In addition to being far faster, new 5G technology will be more stable and reliable than 4G. Experts fully expect lower latency, especially in the aforementioned mMTC service category.

How is 5G Going to Work?

Upcoming 5G networks will operate in a higher frequency portion of the wireless spectrum: somewhere between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. Data can travel at lightning-fast speeds in this area (known to some as the ‘millimeter wave spectrum’), but it doesn’t go very far. Think of it as akin to sustaining a sprint versus a 5K race. Average speed may be far faster for a sprint, but it’s only sustained over 50 or 100 yards.

To ensure reliability, 5G broadband networks will feature far more antennas, all in the interest of avoiding obstacles. In the future, mini-antennas will be placed throughout homes and businesses to accommodate 5G devices.

What are the Main Challenges with 5G Deployment?

Optimistic 5G internet enthusiasts believe that the new generation will be available to the average user within a matter of months. Skeptics, however, aren’t so sure. Unfortunately, the process of shifting to a 5G network can be complicated. Currently, a massive 4G infrastructure is in place; 5G turns this on its head by requiring more antenna.

While many carriers have big plans for deploying 5G mobile networks, manufacturers don’t appear to be following suit with actual phones. Experts don’t expect fully 5G phones (not featuring add-on accessories) to be available until 2019. Even then, pickings could be slim for some time.

Field Engineer will play a critical role in 5G deployment by providing a reliable and innovative platform. FE’s revolutionary system connects businesses intent on unleashing 5G with the best and brightest engineers. With the right partnerships, we can enjoy limitless potential in the 5G era.

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