Community Blog What is 5G Technology? Everything You Need to Know About 5G

What is 5G Technology? Everything You Need to Know About 5G

The performance goals of 5G are high data rates, reduced latency, energy savings, cost reduction, increased system capacity and large-scale device connections.

It is all over the news, 5G is coming! In fact, there is so much excitement you could be wondering, why is it such a big deal? We have been through 2G, 3G, and 4G, and this could be just another one of those small incremental technologies. Actually, 5G is almost a quantum leap in communications with expected speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G. What you could accomplish with such speeds and expected connection quality is mind-blowing. For mobile connectivity, it will be significant to content streaming, video calls, online entertainment, and of course, access to information.

What Is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of mobile network connectivity poised to ensure fast, reliable networks. It is widely believed as the missing link for the development of highly advanced networked systems such as IoT, self-driving cars, robotics, telemedicine, virtual reality. With more capacity in the networks, applications can run simultaneously without impacting other users' speeds.

With every new generation of wireless networks, there has been a new encoding method. Newer methods mean faster speeds but also mean that they're incompatible with the older generations. G was the first standard and was basically behind the analog phones. 2G brought about digital cell phones and included CDMA, GSM and TDMA. EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS brought forth 3G and the speeds increased to hundreds of kilobytes to a few MBPS or less. 4G speeds increased to several MBs per second with the highest speed recorded being nearly a gigabit per second. 5G promises even higher speeds, low latency, and more bandwidth to enable more devices to connect to the internet. While 4G speeds can be improved to hit nearly 2 GBPS, 5G offers more capacity and less latency beyond anything that 4G networks could attain.

At first, 5G will work in tandem with the existing 4G infrastructure. The transition will be gradual beginning with the upgrade of base stations followed by the installation of many small antennas. In due time, 5G will be widely accessible with 4G only required where it has not reached.

Working Principles of 5G

As with all the previous generations of mobile networks, 5G relies on radio waves. However, the encoding used will see the average network speeds stabilize at about 1 GBPS with some estimates predicting up to 10 GBPS. The high speeds will lead to faster content downloading, almost as good as using an optic fiber connection on the move. Furthermore, the low latency will speed up internet access and reduce lag in bandwidth-intensive activities such as video conferencing or video games.

5G was designed to meet the requirements of diverse users in a single network. Specifically, the Cloud-Native E2E architecture should meet the standards below:

  1. Support applications need a single network infrastructure through network slicing that is logically independent.
  2. Enable multiple devices implementing different standards to connect by reconstructing radio access networks (RAN) on demand.
  3. Create a simplified architecture by separating the user from control planes, modular functions, and integrated database management.
  4. Reduce operation costs by automatic network slicing, maintenance, and service termination.

5G transmits via comparatively shorter wavelengths and is thus, sensitive to barriers and environmental conditions. With more transmission hardware installed, this problem could become minimal. 5G networks work primarily on three different frequencies:

  1. Low-frequency
  2. Mid-band frequency
  3. Higher frequency

Lower frequency 5G uses similar frequency bands as existing technologies and achieves between 25-50 times increase in speed. It is best for sparsely populated rural areas, as it has similar reach to existing 4G, and hence, a similar number of cell sites.

For extremely fast gigabit speeds, millimeter wavelengths in the range of 28 GHz and 39 GHz are used. These types will require a dense network of cell sites since their penetration is low.

The mid-band range is a sort of compromise between the two, with frequencies ranging from 3.5 GHz to 7 GHz. The speeds are not as high as with the high-frequency networks, and the cell sites will be fewer as well.

Uses of 5G

Before looking at the uses of 5G, let's look at the classification of the 5G mobile networks as defined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). There are three categories:

  1. Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB)
  2. Ultra-reliable and Low-latency Communications (uRLLC)
  3. Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC).

eMBB aims at meeting the demanding digital lifestyle of people by increasing the bandwidth to accommodate tasks such as virtual reality, HD content streaming, and augmented reality applications.

uRLLC focuses on latency-sensitive industrial applications such as telemedicine, self-driving mobility, and critical networked machine-based automated response, among others.

mMTC focuses on providing higher network density for smart cities that require higher throughput capacity, such as large-scale IoT projects.

Of course, most cell network providers want to provide a better experience through faster connections on smartphones. 5G offers a tremendous advantage over 4G, since it has more capacity, hence, cheaper home internet plans.

There will be a substantial change concerning the future of supply lines with a 5G future. Anticipation is that complex, bandwidth-intensive applications, such as cloud-based traffic control and remote driving, will become feasible with low latency.

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The Seven Major Features of 5G

This post provides an in-depth look at the major features of 5G, answering the question of what exactly 5G is.

The age of 5G is right at our doorstep now. With all of the news circulating about 5G, I'm sure you've got many questions in your mind: What exactly is 5G? Is it just about faster Internet speeds? How can 5G reduce average latency to milliseconds? What does network slicing mean? What exactly is going on when it comes to arguing for 5G standards and what exactly are people arguing for?

In this article, we will try to answer all of these questions, providing you with an in-depth look at 5G.

I am sure that Moore's Law sounds familiar to you all, but Shannon's Theorem in the field of communication is less well-known. I still remember the strict derivation of this formula I learned at a postgraduate course in Information Theory.

  1. When data signals are transmitted on a channel with random thermal noise, the relationship between the channel capacity Rmax and the channel bandwidth W and the signal-to-noise ratio S/N is Rmax = W*log2(1+S/N), where log2 is a base-2 logarithm.
  2. In simple terms, if you want to increase channel capacity, you can increase the bandwidth or the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Increasing bandwidth is easy to understand. However, spectrum resources are limited and cannot be allocated without restraint. Even if they are inexhaustible, there is still another key limiting factor, SNR. There are many ways to increase the SNR. For example, we could increase transmission power. However, several countries, including China, have strict restrictions on the transmission power of base stations, so we cannot increase power as we might want to. Even if we were allowed to do so, devices might not be able to meet the ultra high requirements, because high frequency amplification is not a simple matter. Other ways to increase the SNR include improving source coding and channel coding.

Here is a mind map regarding some technologies related to 5G. To provide a brief summary, 5G involves several key technologies, and each technology is designed to address specific demands in several different real world and business scenarios.

Besides High Speeds, What Else Will 5G Bring Us?

This article discusses what we can expect in the near future with the rise of 5G.

5G is about revolutionizing our lifestyles, rather than just bringing faster network speeds. It will spur changes to several different industries. 5G not only involves large bandwidth, but also many other aspects that will benefits several different enterprises across many different industries. In this post, Alibaba Entertainment's technical expert Chu Peisi will share what are some of the key technologies of 5G.

The Core Technologies of 5G
5G involves a large variety of several different core technologies. You might know about the three scenarios defined for 5G:

1.eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband): As its name suggests, this is designed for high-traffic mobile broadband services.
2.URLLC (Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications): These will have a response time is 500 milliseconds in 3G, 50 milliseconds in 4G, and required to be 1 millisecond in 5G, which will be applicable in scenarios such as autonomous driving and telemedicine.
3.mMTC (Massive Machine Type Communications): This is for large-scale Internet of Things (IoT) services.

Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMMB)

4G was record-breaking in terms of network speed, so how can 5G scale to new heights? Let's take a look at the formula first.

Capacity = bandwidth × spectral efficiency × number of cells

According to this formula, there are three ways to increase capacity: increasing the spectrum bandwidth, increasing the spectral efficiency, and increasing the number of cells. Increasing the number of cells means building more base stations, which is currently too costly to realistically implement.

For spectrum bandwidth, resources in the middle and low frequency bands are very limited. As a result, 5G moved towards the field of millimeter wave. As we will discuss later, millimeter wave features a very high frequency band and abundant resources, so it has become the focus of spectrum development. In addition to developing new spectrum resources, another effective method is increasing the utilization of the existing spectra. For this purpose, the cognitive radio, which has been progressing over the years, can be used to increase the utilization of radio and television white space.

"White space" is the spectra that can be used by wireless communication devices or systems during specific time periods and in specific regions without interfering with higher-level services. Based on this, the "radio and television white space" refers to the white spectra in the radio and television frequency band. The frequency band for radio and television signals has a very high quality and is suitable for wide area coverage. Therefore, the application of cognitive radio in this band deserves attention.

Operators prefer to enhance the network capacity by increasing the spectral efficiency. Methods such as checking error correction and encoding are used to approach the Shannon limit rate. Compared with Turbo code in 4G, the channel coding method in 5G is much more efficient.

Currently, 4G and Wi-Fi mainly use orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) technology, which offers better performance than code division multiple access (CDMA) and other earlier modulation technologies do. However, orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) requires that all resource blocks be orthogonal, which limits the use of resources. If signals that are not orthogonal can also be correctly demodulated, system capacity can be greatly increased. Non-orthogonal multiple access (NOMA) technology was developed in response to this need. After the modulation technologies reach their limits in improving the network capacity, we may resort to the multi-antenna technology. Massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) can greatly improve the capacity.

Applying 5G and 8K to Remote Medical Diagnosis

Alibaba Cloud recently disclosed its "secret technologies" at The Computing Conference 2018 on applying 5G and 8K technologies to remote medical diagnosis.

As imaging technologies continue to evolve, consumers are presented with more and more on our devices. Increasing size and enhanced definition are essential for all types of screens, including mobile phones, television, and OLEDs. The standard for "high resolution video" has increased from 1080 to 4K and then to 8K, which imposes a large load on traditional networks and image processing systems.

World's First 8K Live Streaming Demo

At The Computing Conference 2018 in Shenzhen, Alibaba Cloud unveiled the world's first 8K Internet live streaming. Then, at The Computing Conference 2018 in Hangzhou, Alibaba Cloud presented the first application of the 5G+8K video technology in remote medical care. By cooperating with ecosystem partners, Alibaba Cloud was able to provide cutting-edge ultra HD video live streaming to medical professionals around the world. This means the 8K ultra HD live streaming technology has transformed from an experimental concept to a commercial product.

At the conference, a broadcast-grade 8K camera collected data. After the data was encoded locally in real time, a 5G network transmitted HD video on fine details about patients' eye symptoms upstream to a live streaming center in Shanghai for real-time processing. After distribution and transmission with ultra-low delay, an 8K player decoded and rendered streams and presented clear and fine images to the oculists of Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, who conducted a remote diagnosis through information exchange on a remote platform.

This is the first time Alibaba Cloud presented the end-to-end 8K live streaming solution to the public comprehensively, in a use case of remote hospital where 8K video is collected and played by terminals, in conjunction with images sent back from SRRSH.

An 8K video resolution is 7680×4320, whereas an IMAX film resolution is typically 4K. This means that the 8K definition is four times that of IMAX. To adapt to resolution-related change, we need to set the bit rate to 120 Mbps and frame rate to 60 fps for the live streaming and used HEVC encoding to push the video source to the 8K level.

To ensure the quality of 8K live streaming, Alibaba Cloud team endeavored to improve the following technologies:

Optimized real-time transmission links with ultra-high bit rate

The 8K 60FPS raw video has a bit rate reaching dozens of gigabits per second. To ensure real-time 8K live streaming, Alibaba Cloud has extended RTMP to support HEVC, which enables real-time RTMP at a high HEVC compression rate. The compressed bit rate of live streaming still exceeds 100 Mbps. Streams are transmitted stably in the 5G+VPC upstream direction and CDN downstream direction. Data is transmitted over a distance of more than 400 kilometers across complex network environments, from the Computing Conference in Hangzhou to live streaming center in Shanghai and then to SRRSH. According to actual test results, the latency of 8K live streaming is comparable to that of Internet live streaming. The user experience is excellent.

Extended real-time processing capability of 8K live streaming

ApsaraVideo for Live is optimized to support real-time slicing and recording of 8K streams, multiple streaming media protocols such as HLS, HTTP+FLV, and RTMP, and 8K time shifting and playback.

Improved full-link monitoring for live streaming

The full-link monitoring function is provided to display the 8K topology in real time and monitor the audio and video frame rates and bit rates of processing nodes and transmission links, allowing you to get a full photograph of 8K operation. The onsite large screen displays audio and video frame rates and bit rates in real time. Data curve changes are mild, indicating stable operation.

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