The first phase of 5G has just ended in indifference. Needless to say, only experts knew about it. The 3GPP Group, which defines the technical specifications for mobile telephony standards, actually completed Issue 17 in 2021.
In this second quarter of 2022, a new chapter has just been opened by discussing 5G Advanced since Release 18, as well as all versions that will follow. For convenience, we will call it 5G +, even if it is not its official name. A nod to 4G Advanced, which was commonly referred to as 4G +.
Manufacturers of battle order equipment
The content of the meeting was scheduled for the end of last year. Be careful, the end result is far from being accepted, so things can change. In any case, Nokia, Ericsson and all device manufacturers are ready to enforce their patents. This is also the case with Qualcomm, which has insisted on its own innovations at its 5G Summit, which we attended in May this month.
“The first phase of 5G laid the foundations and then opened up to the verticals outside the telecommunications operators. 5G Advanced will increase network efficiency and support a wider range of use cases.summed up Juan Montojo, Qualcomm’s vice president of engineering.
Behind the scenes of the operators
Users don’t necessarily see this, but the idea is to make base stations much more energy efficient with relatively strict specifications. To achieve this, manufacturers intend to integrate more artificial intelligence and in particular machine learning in networks.
ML should also allow better management of metaverse and XR (extended reality), which means both augmented and virtual reality applications. “The main challenge is to provide very high data throughput and limited latency at the same time”Ericsson emphasizes in one of its reports.
Massive MIMO, which consists of multiplying antennas during transmission and reception, should be pushed to the maximum with base stations that could support up to 512 elements against 64 at present. The 3GPP is also discussing the transition to new antennas that would work Full Duplex. They could send and receive information more often and almost simultaneously in the same frequency band, instead of waiting for the slot to do so gradually, as is currently the case. Let’s imagine what a latency gain would be. However, interference issues remain to be resolved.
There is also talk of integration into 5G non-terrestrial networks (NTN) what are satellites, altitude platforms or surprisingly drones. NTNs could thus expand coverage. And signal reception in motion on a train or car should be better. There is also an improved repeater function that reduces interference and noise while extending the range.
The goal would finally be to be able to connect a new category of objects that do not necessarily have as high performance requirements as smartphones. They are called “equipment with reduced capacity” or Red baseball cap and may involve cameras or even small sensors. In contrast, high-capacity terminals such as self-driving cars, robots and delivery drones will also need to be supported by providing extremely reliable connections.
As you know, 5G promises an ideal speed of 1 Gbit / s in downstream speeds from the beginning. On the upstream side, however, the first service quality tests did not show any obvious improvements. It is, of course, the will of operators who prefer to provide more bandwidth where users need it. But it is also due to the limitations of the first 5G versions. With 5G + we would go from a theoretical maximum of 500 Mbit / s to 1 Gbit / s.
Fine placement in the interior
We expect internal positioning with an accuracy in the order of centimeters, currently against several tens of centimeters. This will be very useful in 4.0 factories, but also in general for connected objects. This could also be beneficial for outdoor geolocation, in addition to the satellite positioning system.
Consumers may not be the first to be directly affected by 5G Advanced. This development should bring benefits to businesses in particular. “5G-Advanced offers valuable benefits for a variety of applications, such as smart grid management, industrial automation and real-time financial transactions. This will improve navigation and streamline logistics systems. “we can read on the official Nokia website.
How long will 5G + last and when will it be necessary to switch to 6G, it remains to be seen? This will depend on the development of utilization and transport needs. But not before 2030, experts say.
Sources: Qualcomm, Ericsson, Nokia