11 Jul

Lately you often hear about 5G. But what exactly is it and why will it change the web and connectivity? Let’s start from the beginning. It is a standard for communications with a very high upload and download speed and allows you to interact with any iot device (Internet of things). Realize a type of fast connection, affordable and high quality: this is the goal of the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance, the association of manufacturers, sellers, operators and research institutes active in the field of online navigation and mobile telephony. According to estimates made by various operators, 5G should be available from 2020, effectively replacing the current 4G LTE connection. Thanks to this new standard, users will have, almost everywhere, a particularly high download speed and a very low latency, evident especially during the opening of web pages.

What is the meaning of 5G and what are the stated objectives?

This new standard also bases its name on the chronology of the generations of networks that have changed so far. After the 2G, 3G and 4G, comes the 5G, that is the fifth generation of mobile connectivity and more. From a purely technical point of view these are the objectives that the 5G and its developers intend to achieve:
- very high download speeds
- ability to reach a large proportion of the population
- enhanced spectral efficiency compared to 4G
- enhanced signal efficiency
- reduced latency compared to LTE

What will change in practice from the past?

As mentioned, the main feature of the 5G will be the connection speed, which should settle between 100 and 1000 times more than the current 4G LTE. If these forecasts were confirmed, it would only take a few seconds to complete the download of a 4K movie from any video streaming platform. A dream for millions of users around the world, who are waiting for nothing more than to be able to navigate and work in comfort, minimizing waiting times and relying on a stable and uninterrupted connection. The other goal of developers is, of course, to create a huge multi-service platform that allows the diffusion of some innovative online tools (cloud and Internet of things in the first place). The 5G would be the only standard really able to guarantee connectivity to the huge amount of smart objects on the market. This figure is increasing more and more and is expected to exceed 50 billion by 2020. These devices and appliances are equipped with specific sensors, are used for remote control and monitoring operations and are able to dialogue with each other and send notifications and alarm signals on the smartphone or tablet of the owner. But above all they will find space everywhere: in the house, in the company, in the office, in the car, in the public administrations and in the hospitals.

How does 5G work in detail and how will it ensure such important speeds?

To achieve such high speeds, it is necessary to use a frequency spectrum never used before. The 5G, in fact, exploits the so-called millimetric waves, radio waves between 30 and 300 GHz, that is the highest possible spectrum, so much so that no nation has yet assigned it. If until a few years ago it was unthinkable to use such ghosts to promote communication, Today, scientific research has shown that millimetre waves can also be used to facilitate and improve data connection.

Do smartphones and other 5G compatible devices already exist?

There are many manufacturers that are moving to make state-of-the-art devices compatible with the 5G standard. Among these Lenovo-Motorola, which already a year ago presented to the public its first mobile phone compatible with 5G technology. In addition to Lenovo-Motorola, the companies that put the first dates black on white are Samusng, Huawei and Oneplus. On the other hand, Huawei is already committed to supporting the development of 5G technology through its modems. Ericsson also debuted with the first smartphones equipped with 5G modems. However, they are not yet able to exchange data on the mmwave band, but only on mid-band frequencies.

On what frequencies will the 5G connection travel?

In Italy, the standard has been allocated frequencies in three distinct bands: 26.5-27.5 GHz, 694-790 MHz and 3600-3800 MHz. Who is wondering what the higher frequencies, ranging from 26.5 to 27.5 GHz are for (it is the lower ones that allow easier overcoming of obstacles) should know that the higher frequencies guarantee the most important data transfer speeds. They should also be used to ensure connectivity to devices with small antennas (so-called small cells). To receive and optimize the signal will be then employed technologies like the recent MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output)capable of optimising the simultaneous data transmission and reception capability to the largest possible number of connected devices. Using the so-called Massive MIMO technology, each single 5G antenna will be equipped with several simultaneous operating antennas. In addition, beamforming, the technology used to direct the signal towards the physical location of client devices, will also be used. In short, the world of connectivity is about to change radically and the first multinationals are starting to make devices specifically designed for the 5G. To make everything easier, however, high standardisation will be essential, as stated by ulf Ewaldsson, Ericsson’s vice president and CTO. According to Ewaldsson, 5G is the greatest opportunity ever for industry. The main need is to achieve a single global standard, which will require teamwork from the whole world industry.