What Is 5G? & How 5G Will Change The World!
Hi, thanks for tuning into Singularity Prosperity. In this video, we’ll be discussing 5G – more specifically, what it is and its ability to change our world. Before we delve deep into our discussions of 5G, let’s first take a quick look at how mobile networks have evolved over the years to present day. We begin as early as the mid-40s ranging to the late-70s with 0G, also referred to as the mobile radio telephone. This technology was essentially communication via analog radio with switchboard operators required to connect calls. For most of the lifespan of 0G, its commercial use was primarily limited to being installed in vehicles as it was very large.
Progressing to the early 70s, OG became truly mobile as the technology was miniaturized enough to be carried by a person and switchboard operators were no longer required. A few years later, in 1981, the first generation of mobile networks was established with 1G. Radio technology was miniaturized enough to fit in a single device when no wires protruding, allowing communication devices to take on a more mobile phone-esque shape. 1G like 0G still used analog signals so was limited to transmitting just voice – with speeds up to 2 kilobits per second.
Progressing towards the early 90s, in 1992 2G was introduced. At this point mobile phones were small and affordable enough to garner massive attention from the general public, which kick-started the mobile phone revolution. 2G introduced digital standards which allowed for short text messages to be sent and had speeds ranging from 14 to 64 kilobits per second. As the network matured with releases of and 2.75G speeds saw increases up to 144 kilobits per second. Moving forward roughly another 10 years, in 2001 3G made its debut. 3G was the first mobile broadband solution and integrated high quality video, data and voice – essentially bringing the mobile phone online, with speeds initially ranging from 144 kilobits per second up to 2 megabits per second. With 3G, adoption of mobile phones spread like wildfire, initially only a product for older generations began to be purchased and given to children as well.
As and 3.75G standards were rolled out, speeds saw upgrades ranging from 2 megabits per second to 10 megabits per second. Once again progressing 10 years to 2011, we arrived at our current generation of mobile networks, 4G, a true mobile broadband solution. Whereas other generations of mobile networks have added new functionality to our devices, 4Gs primary purpose has been to bring faster speeds. This generation has created a world that truly revolves and connects around the mobile experience. Long term evolution shortened to LTE is the first phase of 4G with minimum speeds of 10 megabits per second ranging up to a theoretical 100 megabits per second. Now those theoretical speeds in the majority of covered areas haven’t been achieved as of yet. We’ll continue our discussion about 4G, its future, how it will improve to reach faster speeds and more after the next section as the evolution of 4G is highly correlated with 5G technologies. 5G is on pace to improve many aspects of current generation mobile networks.
Some of these major factors include speed, latency, bandwidth energy consumption and more. However, in order to do this requires many technologies and communication techniques working together in unison. The first of these technologies and possibly the most important of all is millimeter waves. From the inception of mobile networks, all devices have been in the frequency spectrum between 3 kilohertz to 6 gigahertz. Now this wasn’t an issue in the past when devices were limited to primarily mobile phones, however with the emergence of the internet of things, self-driving cars, smartwatches, VR, AR and countless other technologies requiring constant fast connections – these frequency bands are becoming increasingly congested.
This rate of growth of connected devices is only set to exponentially increase with some conservative estimates calling for over 50 billion by 2020. If all these new devices were to remain within the currently established frequency spectrum, no device would be able to get an appropriate amount of bandwidth to operate as designed, which equates to slower operation, dropped connections and all those other things we just love *sarcasm*. Millimeter waves open up the frequency spectrum from 6 all the way up to 300 gigahertz allowing for much more bandwidth the real estate. It’s important to keep in mind that we won’t immediately use all that frequency spectrum. For the average consumer, it will be more like centimeter waves with licensed spectrums ranging from 24 up to 40 gigahertz initially. There will also be a shared spectrum ranging from 60 to 70 gigahertz+ for mission-critical services.
Mission-critical services includes smart city infrastructure, self-driving cars, health care and more. These services require constant high speed and low latency connections, therefore a shared spectrum is key and ensuring these devices are always connected. For example, you wouldn’t want a self-driving car to drop connection because someone next to you got on a phone call. The shared spectrum is also designed with consumer use in mind, if in your location, the shared spectrum space isn’t being accessed and there is a high density of consumer devices, some spectrum space can be allocated for temporary use. Now you may be wondering why millimeter waves haven’t been used as of yet, this is because: a) We didn’t require them, as there weren’t as many mobile and connected devices requiring bandwidth. b) Higher frequencies are more easily absorbed by the atmosphere and can also be scattered and absorbed by weather events and buildings, thus they require nearly line of sight communication.
As such, the technologies required the millimeter waves to become widely adopted weren’t previously available. The second primary technology for 5G networks is massive MIMO. It is needed to provide connection for the high-density of devices in particular areas. MIMO stands for multiple input multiple output, and will be applied to our cellular base stations. Currently MI MO technology is used in a much smaller form with base stations having between 8 to 12 antennas to handle all the traffic they transmit and receive. Massive MIMO takes this idea and expands on it with the ability to add hundreds of antennas per base station. Just this year, Ericsson started shipping 64 antenna array systems, with multiple companies such as Huawei, ZTE and even facebook successfully demonstrating 96 to 128 array systems. The number of antennas per base station is only set to increase as testing and refinement continues. It is expected by 2020, the average consumer will have at least 6 to 8 connected devices, bringing 3 with them wherever they go. If you multiply this single person with the population density of cities, you can begin to see why massive MIMO is so essential in providing all those devices connectivity.
Massive MIMO in deployment will be able to provide connectivity to over 1 million devices per square kilometer, which is enough to provide quality connection in the city hubs, stadiums and other tightly packed areas where current 4G systems often fail or struggle. The main problem with Massive MIMO is the interference that all these intersecting waves will create due to how tightly packed together the antennas are. This would result in distorted or destroyed data which wouldn’t be good at all. The next 2 technologies we’ll be discussing are essential in solving the issues millimeter waves and massive MIMO have. Beamforming is an essential data transmission technique required for massive MIMO to work as expected and reduce the signal propagation loss due to the higher frequencies of millimeter waves. Base stations are constantly broadcasting signals not necessarily aiming for a particular target. When your device receives a transmission from a cell tower, there was a lot of interference produced elsewhere to ensure your signal was received. Beamforming acts like a crossing guard, only sending out signals exactly where and when they are needed by spatially tracking them until they reach their target device.
Like massive MIMO adding more antennas to base stations, there will also be more antennas added to devices as well, ranging from 4 to 16 plus. This addition of antennas is key for beamforming allowing for more precise advanced spatial tracking. This addition of antennas will allow our devices to connect to the best station in their vicinity to establish a line of sight communication. Taking it one step further, beamforming will be spatially aware enough to bounce signals off obstacles in the environment to ensure they reach their target location. Before we begin discussing the next technology, I want to play this clip from Qualcomm as it shows all the technologies we’ve discussed thus far working together in unison: So what our research center did is they took a fixed solution, and they added adaptive beam forming to it. So what you can get at millimeter wave is very high gain antennas, so we’re looking at many many antennas. You might have arrays of 4, 8 or even 16 and many antennas around the device, and on the base station we’re looking at numbers of antennas that could exceed 128, 256 or even higher.
Beamforming is all about setting the right amplitude and phase for each of these elements, so that collectively they steer the beam in a certain direction. This has to be done dynamically, you think of it as a spot light on a stage where a performer is on stage and is moving around and the spot light follows. So when you see our GUI or a UI you’ll see like a spherical design of where the energy would be most attractive in terms of providing the performance we want. So depending on the angle of arrival of the energy, depending on which reflection in the environment is providing the best path – that’s what we’ll be able to select and that’s part of the the beamforming algorithm and the communication between the UE and the base station. Small cells aren’t necessarily a new technology, but we’ll see greater use with the evolution of mobile networks. Small cells are essentially smaller base stations that can be installed anywhere. They range in size from large macro cells, to micro and pico cells that can be installed on top of buildings and street lights, all the way down to femtocells that are often user installed.
Up until recently small cells have primarily been used to expand coverage to rural areas, however in combination with 5G technologies will be key in reducing the propagation loss of millimeter waves and routing beamformed signals. This technology will be essential in ensuring consistent high speed low latency coverage wherever you are. An example of how important and powerful small cells can be when utilized properly, is the small cell delivery concept Nokia recently demonstrated. Based off network capacity and need for coverage in a particular area, drones can deploy solar powered small cells that immediately connect to base stations and provide data. This will allow networks to support seemingly infinite capacity, with autonomous drones taking the cells wherever they are required. To further illustrate the power of small cells, imagine stadiums or concerts. Often these areas have poor connection due to the high volume of people in such a small area. With the power of a massive MIMO being able to support 1 million devices per square kilometer and multiple small cells in the stadium, everyone can get access to a high-speed connection.
This will also enable the ability to change the way live events are streamed to the public. Full duplex is a communications paradigm, which can solve the issues that reciprocity creates. The principle of reciprocity in electromagnetism applied to cellular networks, essentially states that an electromagnetic wave must transmit and receive on the same frequency. Now this would cause major signal interference which is why up until now, to work around this we use different frequency bands when transmitting and receiving. The problem with our current solution is that we have to use double the frequency spectrum space when trying to communicate between devices. To solve this problem in a way that could be applied to our devices, engineers have recently created fast silicon switches which allow the signals to essentially travel around each other instantaneously. Full duplex will increase spectral efficiency by a factor of 2 which essentially means that our current frequency spectrum can support double the number of devices. This technology is very powerful because not only can it be applied to fifth generation mobile devices, but newer 4G devices as well. Now as I stated earlier the technologies will improve upon many aspects of current generation technology, but we’ll focus on four: speed, latency bandwidth and energy consumption.
Let’s start with speed. The standards to define the speed of a fifth generation mobile network are at 10 gigabits per second translating to a 100 fold increased from current maximum speeds. However, many tests for 5G are constantly working on pushing this boundary even further. Nokia has demonstrated speeds up to 20 gigabits per second in practical scenarios and Huawei claims to have reach speeds of 70 gigabits per second in testing scenarios. In more real world, scenarios such as driving Samsung and Ericsson have both demonstrated gigabit level speeds of up to five gigabits per second in motion. Almost, if not more important than speed is latency. Latency is the time it takes for an action to be executed following an instruction, I’m sure many of us have experienced latency issues when gaming before. In wireless networks this translates to, how long of a wait until a response is received from a sent transmission. In current 4G networks latency ranges from anywhere between 50 milliseconds up to 100 milliseconds. 5G networks will reduce this latency down to just 1 millisecond, making accessing cloud data and virtual experiences seamless.
This clip from Nokia will provide a better representation of how powerful this reduced response time is in applications such as robotics: So in this demonstration here today we have this camera, which is recording the position of this ball on this plate and then this position is recorded by a mobile edge cloud computing environment, that then is intelligently controlling these robots sending them the commands across the network to balance this ball on the plate. In this first demonstration you can see on the screen here behind me we’re showing the current latency of what would be a 4G network, is around 90 to 100 milliseconds and on the right hand side you’ll be able to see this line move as we move the ball on the plate.
So what I’m going to do is move this ball right now and we can see the oscillations here track on this graph and how long it takes for the robots to collaborate with each other to get the information they need to balance the ball on the plate. And then we’re going to switch into 5G mode and we can see on this graph here that we’ve now gone from around 90 milliseconds to around 3 milliseconds so much much lower latency in the network and I’m going to do exactly the same again – and we can see that we only took one oscillation there to correct the position.
The increases in bandwidth due to the frequency spectrum opened up by millimeter waves and better spectrum utilization, will allow expandability of billions even trillions of connected sensors and mobile devices. They will also enable support of up to 1 million devices per square kilometer with no impact on connectivity, opening up the realm for smart cities, shared augmented experiences and much more. Due to the efficiency of beamforming, only sending data when and where it is needed will have significant impact on energy consumption. For consumers this equates to a longer battery life for our devices with 5G requiring 90% less energy than 4G. A 4G network requires 1 millijoule of energy to transfer 1,000 bit packet of data, a 5G network will be able to do the same transfer in just .01 millijoules. One important topic not covered in this section was improving the sub-6 gigahertz spectrum utilization of 5G. This will be discussed in the next section, as it is an important factor in the transition from fourth generation networks.
Also, as we’ll discuss in the next section, it is important to keep in mind that 5G standardization is in its infancy, and as such the technologies that will enable the next generation of mobile speeds will be constantly evolving as well. The transition to 5G won’t be instantaneous, in fact it has been going on from as early as 2011 – the commercial inception of 4G networks. 4G is a true mobile broadband solution, which provides the foundational infrastructure for 5G to build upon. 3GPP, is the organization that has been defining global standards for mobile networks since 2G. During the lifespan of a mobile generation multiple evolutions are undergone, which 3GPP set standards for in the form of releases. They also named 4G LTE, which stands for long term evolution and recently, 5G NR which stands for new radio. It’s poetic in the sense that 4G is the long term revolution towards the new radio. Standards for the fourth generation of mobile networks began being set as early as 2007 up to 2010 with releases 8 and 9, with 4G infrastructure being deployed for use commercially in 2011.
This was the first phase of 4G known simply as LTE. Releases 10, 11 and 12 from 2011 to early 2015 were about creating the standards for a true 4G mobile network with LTE-Advanced. With LTE-A we see the beginnings of core 5g technologies such as small cell deployments and MIMO. Before we begin discussing release 13 onwards to 16, the start of the true transitionary releases to 5G, it is worth spending some more time on understanding why 4G speeds have sucked up until now.
LTE advertised speeds up to 100 megabits per second and LTE-A with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, however for the lifespan of 4G thus far, speeds for the majority of people have averaged only between 10 to 50 megabits per second. The primary reason why speeds have been so atrocious is that 3G and the initial standards for 4G weren’t designed with a mobile future in mind. The amount and the rate of growth of devices have outpaced the technological ability to support them. In fact, in a cruel paradox, the more devices that have come online, the slower the network has become, making advertised speeds unreachable. Secondarily, much of the new infrastructure required to bring noticeable improvements in speed comes with the deployment of LTE-Advanced Pro. LTE-A Pro, began with release 13 and is the final phase of fourth generation mobile networks. It will be what carries us into the fifth generation, bringing major noticeable improvements in the coming years.
Release 13 standards began in 2015 and ended in mid-2016, it builds upon the technologies in releases 10 through 12, and takes the concept of carrier aggregation to the next level. Carrier aggregation in simple terms is taking multiple channels of bandwidth and stitching them together to make the bandwidth much larger, think of it like a single line highway getting an expansion, allowing for more traffic to flow through. Now as I stated earlier, 4G LTE networks have struggled keeping up with the demand for mobile data because they have been limited in capacity to just a single licensed channel. Now licensed spectrums are what carriers provide and as such, most commercial mobile data flows through licensed spectrums as they offer everyone seamless mobility and predictable performance.
Carriers often have bidding wars to obtain more spectrum space for licensed use, and up to this point we’ve essentially used up the sub-4 gigahertz spectrum space. Much of the unlicensed spectrum resides in the 5 gigahertz range, where technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth reside as well. LTE-A allows for carrier aggregation of 5 licensed channels, which improved speeds and latency, but still not noticeably enough due to do an exponentially growing demand for more bandwidth. LTE-A Pro, will support carrier aggregation of up to 32 channels in the licensed and unlicensed spectrum which will significantly increase bandwidth and allow us to use the sub-6 gigahertz spectrum much more efficiently due to the introduction of the unlicensed spectrum space. This will also significantly reduce the bandwidth congestion we often deal with today, with licensed spectrums covering broad areas and unlicensed spectrums and Wi-Fi coexisting together providing more location specific connections with the use of small cell technology. Moving towards release 14 which started in 2016 and ended just this month, June 2017, 3GPP has essentially ended the bulk of fourth generation mobile discussions, gearing into full-scale 5G NR standardization.
Many technologies that fifth generation mobile networks will expand upon further in the future will begin to be deployed including massive MIMO up to 64 antennas, beam forming and increasing the number of small cells, all in combination with carrier aggregation to ensure a high speed, low latency 4G LTE-A Pro connection. The following clip from Nokia will provide a visual representation of released 10 and onwards technologies in deployment and an insight into the complexity of carrier aggregation in an ever-expanding mobile environment: In reality LTE-Advanced networks provide high-speed access to anywhere in the country – unlike highways which can only access certain destinations. What may appear simple is actually complex when considering carrier aggregation on a multi-layer network. To serve the increasing number of users at more and more locations, the number and variety of radio cells in the network must grow. When an individual LTE-Advanced user is on the move this involves aggregation of an ever-growing range of cells. Continued network growth leads to further aggregation options including small cells, as a result the network always dynamically select the best cells for aggregation at any location and for all users. I like to think of LTE as 3.75G, LTE-A as 4G and LTE-A Pro as 4.5G, the transition to 5G.
However, mobile networks have been in a limbo state for the last few years, not really improving much, keeping us stuck at what I like to call 3.99G. This is because standards for LTE-A Pro were still being completed, and the beginnings of true 4G infrastructure where in the process of deployment. Even though standardization for LTE-A finished in 2015, the rollout just completed this year, 2017. Due to this reason, speeds and latency have not even reached close to what was advertised and all the same time we’ve been paying for unreasonable data caps.
Yes, I agree there are probably some monopolistic reasons for this but a huge factor is accumulating cash flow to significantly expand our mobile network in the coming years with LTE-A Pro and 5G infrastructure. As you can see, as 5G is garnering more attention, carriers are scrambling to buy more spectrum space and beginning to roll out more infrastructure as fast as possible. The dark days of mobile networks it appears are coming to an end. Also as a side note before we continue, be cautious of deceptive advertising like AT&T branding LTE-A Pro as 5G Evolution. They might as well call it 6G Eventual or 7G probable because they mean the same thing and are using the title to lure customers in. Back on topic, over the course of this year leading into 2019 we’ll begin to see major speed and latency improvements. LTE-A Pro states that speeds of 1 to 3 gigabits per second and a latency of around 2 milliseconds are achievable.
Now we probably won’t see those speeds until 2020 when 5G starts becoming more commercially prevalent, but what we will see is significant speed and latency improvements every few months, on the way there. Currently with the state of LTE-A infrastructure speeds average out for the majority around 50 to 100 megabits per second. This means we finally reached the speeds that 4G promised in 2011, and it also means we have a lot of room to grow. By 2019, at a conservative rate of growth of small cell deployments, massive MIMO arrays and other technologies – speed should average in the 500 megabit per second to 1 gigabit per second range with latencies to the sub-25 millisecond range. For the average mobile data consumer, these speeds will be more than enough for a very long time, and the bandwidth should be large enough to support all the new devices come to market until 2020. In other words, LTE-A Pro will fill the gap while waiting for 5G standards become more concrete. Standards for 5G NR are just beginning to evolve into a form of their own with 3GPP releases 15 and 16.
Release 15, the first phase of 5G standardization, began just this month, June 2017, and will progress onwards until mid-2018, at which point, release 16, the second phase of 5G standardization will begin and go on until the end of 2019. Keeping those dates in mind, 5G infrastructure is expected to start being deployed in late 2019 or early 2020, however there have been talks about an accelerated deployment schedule to start as early as, early 2019. Up until then, LTE-Advanced Pro infrastructure will see a rapid increase in deployment, further easing the transition to 5G. As seen in this mobile network adoption graph, 4G adoption is starting to pick up traction and will continue to exponentially increase, right on cue with the deployment of LTE-A Pro while 5G standards are finalized. It is also important to notice when previous mobile generations have peaked in the past. For 2G it took nearly 20 years from its deployment in 1991 to peak in 2011, and 3G recently peaked just last year in 2016, 15 years from its original deployment. 4G is expected to peak in mobile subscriptions by 2024, 15 years from its original deployment.
However, what differentiates it from other mobile generations is its rate of growth, as 2G and 3G networks rate of decline increases. Whereas by 2019 you can see 2G, 3G and 4G distribution will be roughly 37.5%, 37.5% and 25% respectively, by 2024 the majority of the world will have moved to 4G, with it covering 60% plus of network space. This due to increasing demand for more data faster, more devices and various global initiatives to increase connectivity around the planet that we’ll discuss in future videos. Another reason for the massive adoption for 4G will be its backwards compatibility in the future to help transition users to 5G.
New mobile chips released as of this year will allow 4G, 5G and Wi-Fi to work together in unison to provide consistent connectivity wherever you are. If for example, 5G beamforming loses line-of-sight connection with your device due to some unforeseen obstacle, your device will be able to switch to a 4G network and back again when connection with the 5G small cell is re-established, without any noticeable drop in service. As you can see, 4G, more specifically LTE-A Pro is an integral part of the seamless transition to 5G. With the improvements in bandwidth and energy consumption that LTE-A Pro introduces and 5G will expand upon, more wireless subscribers coming online, as well as various other reasons we’ve discussed throughout this video, we will see more competitive rates for larger data plans as well as the eventual comeback of the unlimited data plan while we transition but 5G.
This will once again increase the rate of adoption of 4G in the coming years and 5G when it starts becoming commercially available in 2020. These gigabit level speeds, low latencies and low costs will open up many use cases for 5G and LTE-A Pro, such as home routers with comparable speeds to Wi-Fi, seamlessly integrated augmented reality devices and much more which we’ll explore in future videos. At this point the video has come to a conclusion, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to watch it. If you enjoyed it please leave a thumbs up and if you want me to elaborate on any of the topics discussed or have any topic suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. Consider subscribing to my channel for more content, follow my Medium publication for accompanying blogs and like my Facebook page for more bite-sized chunks of content. This has been Ankur, you’ve been watching Singularity Prosperity and I’ll see you again soon! . ..
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