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Jan 16 2015

See 5G radio in action here

This blog is by Volker Held, head of Innovation Marketing at Nokia Networks. Twitter: @V_Held

Here you can see what a 5G radio prototype looks like in action:

5G is about expanding the human possibilities of cellular technology. A key design goal of 5G is to remove any capacity or performance bottleneck in the network that hinders an application from performing as it should. Most obvious capacity challenges come with 4k Ultra High Definition (UHD) video applications and we can expect that even 8k videos will be common in the not too distant future.

5G is also about a consistent experience for the end user. To size up the challenge, just imagine a train in which 100 commuters are streaming UHD content simultaneously. How do we enable them all to view a 4k or 8k video without any service degradation during their journeys?

And what does it mean as we move more into the Internet of Things? Certainly we can expect that safety and business-critical applications will increasingly run on the cellular network, which necessitates absolutely stringent, reliable and predictable service levels in terms of capacity, throughput and latency. These levels will far exceed those used today, i.e. from 100 Mbps per connection anywhere in the network and 10 Gbps peak throughput if so demanded by an application. In addition, 5G networks need to achieve 1 ms network latency for tactile and mission-critical automation applications – which is a far cry from the 15 to 20 ms that today’s best LTE networks are currently able to achieve.

From 2020 onwards, we will need to increase the overall performance of mobile networks dramatically to ensure consistent performance, in particular for services that require the delivery of a constantly high bit stream or the delivery of several Gigabits in an instant.

3 types of 5G radio will be used

How Nokia intends to provide nearly infinitive capacity to new demanding applications is discussed in our new 5G radio whitepaper. Here we outline the key technologies of 5G radio and what’s important to build the system. There will be three types of 5G radios with different characteristics since we need to utilize all available spectrum:

5G below 6.5 GHz: So far all cellular communication occurs in this range given the favorably wide area coverage properties of the lower frequencies. There is still a need for more spectrum below 6.5 GHz as well as improvement of the radio systems’ spectral efficiency* by using technologies such as high rank MIMO and carrier aggregation.

5G from 6.5 to less than 30 GHz (cm wave bands): This is a completely new range for cellular systems. A new radio interface design is needed to make use of these centimeter wave frequencies as the characteristics are different compared to the lower bands. The contiguous bandwidth of about 100-500 MHz is much wider than what LTE-Advanced is designed for. Current air interfaces are not designed for these higher frequencies and require a new solution.

5G at and above 30 GHz (mm wave bands): At the other end of the spectrum range are the millimeter wave frequencies starting at 30 GHz, which provide carrier bandwidths of 1-2 GHz. Mobile systems can achieve huge capacity gains when running in this spectrum, but the different radio characteristics call for a different radio interface design.

Large scale antenna arrays in the air interface design of cm and mm wave bands will impact the MIMO solutions in 4G signficantly. For example, as the limitations in mm wave systems are derive from path-losses, the new MIMO technology will provide power gains through beamforming.

Exploring new galaxies in mobile

The good news, as the above proof of concept video shows, is that 5G radio technology already works today. Here you see the prototype at work in the high frequency bands, incorporating the key technologies of 5G radio design and showing the use of directional antennas for pedestrian mobility in the 70 GHz band.

Designing the 5G radio system is a pioneering task ─ it's about exploring new “galaxies” for mobile communication with the promise of great rewards in capacity, throughput and latency. Going forward, our shared goal will be to keep the number of new air interfaces to a minimum and ensure that the new radios interact perfectly with each other and with existing technologies.

For more on 5G, click here.

And read our related blog: Why we will need 5G

Share your thoughts on the 5G debate by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #5G #FutureWorks #Innovation #NetworksPerform #Nokia #mobilebroadband.

*Spectral efficiency is a measure of how efficiently the spectrum can be used during data transmission, in other words, how many bits per Hz per second can be delivered over the air. Massive MIMO is a key component to improve spectral efficiency in 5G.

About Volker Held

At Nokia, Volker is focused on combining the technology and business side of innovation. He heads Nokia’s 5G market development activities for the company, helping to create the future of telecommunications. He was also one of the founders of Nokia FutureWorks and brought Technology Vision 2020 to life.

Tweet me at @v_held

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