5g technology: mastering the magic triangle

Reply Practice - 5G

What is 5G and what does it mean for business?

5G is the latest mobile network which is currently being deployed worldwide, stimulating many interesting discussions about the technology and its use cases. This article will provide an overview of 5G, it’s key features, some key enablers and what makes 5G so revolutionary. As a company driving innovation and high-quality projects, Reply engages with 5G over several areas, these include: providing efficient solutions for network slicing, disruptive Edge Cloud solutions and specific 5G security solutions based on Blockchain.

5G technology, in combination with other technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT, 3D printing and more will change the way consumers live and interact today, in industries as well as societies. It has promised an increase in wealth creation opportunities due to its ability to provide wider network coverage, reliable network connections and faster data transfer. In contrast to mobile network technologies so far, 5G does not only focus on connecting people, 5G is designed for connecting everyone and everything. Moreover, the long-term perspective is overwhelming, over the next few years it will provide faster network connection through Extreme Mobile Broadband (xMBB) services.

From today, the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is expected to grow by 145% to 75 billion devices until 2025. 5G will enable this growth along with the amount of data generated by it - introducing an era of Massive IoT. It will set the stage for new business opportunities to be built on data and connectivity thereby causing positive disruption in many industries.

Besides the improvements to the existing features of mobile networks, 5G will be especially ground-breaking in terms of mission critical control usage scenarios. These scenarios require a stable connection with an extremely low latency - such as remote control for critical infrastructure, drones, robots and Automated-Guided Vehicles (AGV).

Enabling new applications, use cases, services and business models, a completely new industry will arise changing the way we live in private and business life.

Most of us are familiar with the magic triangle in project management – quality in projects is constrained by time, cost and scope. In mobile networks, you can also find such a magic triangle:

5g technology magic triangle 5g technology magic triangle

The 5G magic triangle is composed by 3 key components:

Bandwidth: Extreme Mobile Broadband (xMBB).
Latency: Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (uRLLC).
Number of connections: Massive Machine-Type Communication (mMTC).

All use cases that are currently in discussion and even those we are still not aware of can be classified in the magic triangle.

Extreme Mobile Broadband

The actual speed of a 5G connection depends on the used frequency spectrum. As the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has defined, the total download capacity for a single 5G mobile cell must be at least 20Gbps and 10Gbps in upstream. Furthermore, ITU has also defined the “per-user” speed for downloads with 100 Mbps and 50Mbps for uploads, since the air interface is a shared medium. According to industry expectations, the speed will increase up to 100Gbps in the future.

Extreme Mobile Broadband Extreme Mobile Broadband

Additionally, the new technology provides a more uniform experience over the coverage area and performance degradation as the number of users increase.

xMBB is the starting point to enable an increasingly digital and connected lifestyle. UBB use cases are mainly focused on solutions demanding high bandwidth, enhancing the mobile device, and fixed wireless access experience by enabling for example, on-the go, ultra-high definition video streaming, high-speed movie download, virtual and augmented experiences. Gaming will also require high bandwidth combined with low latency.

Massive Machine-Type Communication

With an ever-growing number of connected devices communicating with each other, IoT increasingly becomes the fabric connecting “things”, “people” and “processes”. Driven by discussions about Internet of Things, Smart Cities and an all-connected world, the number of connections per square kilometer (skm) becomes a higher priority in standardization.

If you think of a manufacturing plant with connected production machines, AGV’s and workers with AR-glasses, or a smart city with connected traffic lights, parking lots and meters (gas, water, power), the number of approx. 2.000 active users per skm in 4G is far too low. Therefore, 5G supports at least 1 Million connections per skm acc. to the latest specification.

Massive Machine-Type Communication Massive Machine-Type Communication

The massive increase in IoT connections is a cornerstone of digital transformation for all kinds of sectors - ranging from: cities, transportation, utilities to manufacturing. Within the field of Massive Internet of Things it is Consumer IoT, Smart Cities and Smart Buildings that are currently dominating the areas that are seeing the most trending interest.

In addition, the new technology also provides efficient transmission of small payloads (e.g. from meters), wide area coverage and deep penetration, e.g. for parking sensors buried in the streets. Besides the deep penetration, 5G additionally supports a low-power mode that enables these sensors to run on one battery for years.

Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication

Latency is extremely important for time-critical applications like gaming. Also in many business applications, low latency plays an important role for example, in Automated-Guided Vehicles (AGV) in manufacturing plants or warehouses which rely on ULL. In today’s 5G deployments, we see latency of approx. 30ms, while some optimizations e.g. operating in the edge cloud field could realistically see a latency as low as 10-20ms. ULL below 10ms is possible under lab conditions and the long-term target is to achieve 1ms.

Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication

While initial 5G use cases are focused on enhanced broadband, the next generation of 5G use cases will support a range of mission critical communication (MCC) applications that require uninterrupted and (near) real-time data exchange. As 5G reduces latency in controlled environments, down to approximately one millisecond in the long-term, it enables use cases like drones, AGV’S, remote control or automation of factories, robots, or critical infrastructure.

More features like improved mobility (up to 500 km/h) and higher reliability supplement the key characteristics of 5G mentioned above. 5G network reliability is defined as the capacity to deliver 99.999% of the data packet without errors in 1ms and it implies a 99.999% availability of the network itself. Even if many protocols can recover data errors through retransmission this will either increase latency above the limit which is not acceptable for many use cases (autonomous driving, remote control, etc.) or it is not supported in some scenarios (real time video streaming, etc.). For these reasons, reliability and availability are key features for all critical applications.

Key Measures to achieve and support the success of 5G

As mentioned, 5G is mastering the magic triangle of bandwidth, latency and connection density while challenging the borders of physics and requiring a lot of engineering creativity and skills. This is reflected in the application of numerous new technologies (pictured below). The importance of these will be described in detail in our articles which are to follow - stay tuned.

Key technologies that enable 5G Key technologies that enable 5G

Reply: how 5G will impact industries

As a thought leader and trusted advisor to our customers, Reply is currently identifying and addressing the most relevant, emerging opportunities and use cases that are enabled by 5G, on a per industry basis. 5G assets will impact industries in different ways by improving readily available services in areas where performance is improved from 4G, to enabling services not feasible today, where 5G introduces a new range of assets. These industries are in focus for analysis at this point in time.

5g business opportunities 5g business opportunities

Reply is analyzing the 5G impact for each specific industry and based on this analysis it designs use cases for PoC resp. trials while exploring specific offers for clients and prospects in the different industries. As a few examples of the use cases of 5G, the tecnology can enable Live 360° streaming, Smart Grid, Telecare, autonomous drones and AGV’s, amongst myriad other innovations.

5G is a new technology that offers many opportunities and, together with technologies like Artificial Intelligence, IoT, 3D printing, it will drive the 4th industrial revolution and change the personal and private life of all of us.

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