5G Architecture

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    • Deploying services based on the latest generation (5G) in a world filled with 4G compatible devices is the upcoming challenge. 

    Compatibility issues with the devices

    • 4G: 
      • Since 4G’s inception in the early 2010s, the number of smartphone users have grown significantly
      • According to data intelligence firm Statista, the total number of smartphone users in the world has nearly doubled in the last seven years.
      • Not just users, the number of mobile devices in use have also skyrocketed. 
        • The total number of phones and tablets in use is expected to be over 18.2 billion,
    • With 5G: 
      • There are fewer 5G-compatible devices in the market compared to 4G ones.
      • Delayed auctioning and rollout of 5G airwaves is holding people back from using the service.

    Other Challenges

    • Lack of a clear road map for 5G frequency bands.
    • Lack of flow of cash and adequate capital with the Telcos.

    Evolution of technology

    • The first-generation technology: 
      • This generation let people make and receive phones calls through their mobile handheld devices while 
    • The second and third generations:
      • These generations added text and multi-media messaging, as well as email services to cell phones. 
    • The fourth-generation technology:
      • The emergence of 4G in the early part of the past decade changed the mobile-telephone landscape
      • This paradigmatic shift let users stream and download videos at speeds three times greater than 3G.
      • With 4G-capable cell phones, people could make calls over the Internet instead of via telephone networks.
    • 4G+ (LTE advanced):
      • Fourth generation’s evolution to 4G+ (LTE advanced), which offered download speeds of 200 to 300 Mbps, made it easier for people to connect and talk over the Internet.
    • The fifth-generation technology: 
      • Technology shift:
        • Building on the multiplexing technology of its predecessor, 5G ushers in a new standard called 5G New Radio (NR), which uses the best capabilities of LTE
        • Apart from this, the fifth-generation of mobile communication will use high-frequency millimeter wave (mmWave) bands that operate on wavelengths between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. 
        • For comparison, 4G’s LTE operates on wavelengths under 6 GHz.
      • Offered benefits:
        • The latest iteration of mobile connectivity offers low latency, greater download speeds.
        • It has the ability to connect multiple devices and exchange data in real-time. 
        • Energy savings:
          • 5G NR will enable increased energy savings for connected devices and enhance connectivity. 
        • Autonomous Vehicles: 
          • 5G will allow vehicles to communicate between themselves and with infrastructure on the road, improving safety and alerting drivers to travel conditions and performance information.
      • Social Benefits: 
        • Healthcare: 
          • Healthcare providers can create sensor networks to track patients and share information faster than ever before.
        • Public Safety: 
          • A vast network and rapid response times mean that public works can respond to incidents and emergencies in seconds rather than minutes, and municipalities can react fast and with reduced costs.

    India’s current status in 5G

    • Private telecom operators and smartphone manufacturers:
      • Bharti Airtel has conducted trials in partnership with Ericsson for mobile phones already in the market.
      • Reliance Jio Infocomm has completed building its indigenous 5G network and is now conducting trials of connected drones, speed test and other aspects.
    • Government’s initiatives:
      • With the government successfully concluding the 5G spectrum auction on 1 August 2022, the fifth-generation telecom services are likely to be rolled out in India by October 2022.
      • India is likely to see its own indigenously developed and manufactured 5G stack getting deployed in rolling out 5G networks in India.
    • Significance:
      • It will enable the development, testing and proliferation of 5G technology system components, cross-sectoral use cases, besides setting up the foundation for the development of the “6G Technology landscape” in the country.
      • It will also enable a mesh of connected Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices and services with zero-fail rate, as in the case of connected cars.
    • Potential:
      • The 5G technology will represent around 39 per cent of mobile subscriptions in India at the end of 2027, estimated at about 500 million subscriptions, as per a recent Ericsson report.

    Way Ahead

    • 5G will require a fundamental change to the core architecture of the communication system and India should be ready with a robust, scalable, and intelligent infrastructure that is capable of handling massive traffic growth.
    • Additional investment in billions is required to seamlessly implement 5G networks.
    • Telecom operators need to support a wide spectrum of hybrid technologies.
    • So, the switch to a pureplay 5G architecture is no more a question of whether or not, but when and how.

    Global progress on 5G

    • More than governments, global telecom companies have started building 5G networks and rolling it out to their customers on a trial basis.
      • Different countries and firms are at various stages of 5G deployment
    • In countries like the US, companies such as AT&T, T-mobile, and Verizon have taken the lead when it comes to rolling out commercial 5G for their users.
    • In other countries such as China, some of the telcos such as China Unicom had started 5G trials as early as 2018, and have since rolled out the commercial services for users.
    • South Korean company Samsung, which had started researching 5G technology way back in 2011, has, on the other hand, taken the lead when it comes to building the hardware for 5G networks for several companies.

    Source: TH