5G networks: Why seamless integration of related ecosystem elements is paramount

Viewpoint Article

By Raj Radjassamy, Director of 5G and Wireless Segment at OmniOn Power

Looking ahead to the deployment of 6G, the lessons learned from the continued rollout of 5G will help to ensure that future networks can live up to their promised potential. While 5G has achieved some of its initial promises, its advanced, higher-frequency applications have yet to materialize. The delay in developing these applications stems, in part, from an incomplete ecosystem at the time of deployment.

Providing low latency, faster speeds, expanded capacity, and enhanced ultra-reliability, 5G has the power to accelerate the mainstream adoption of the Internet of Things/Industrial Internet of Things across multiple industries. Simply put, 5G can help usher in a new digital information age. The long-term success of 5G, however, requires each critical ecosystem element – the network, infrastructure, and applications – to work together seamlessly and to support the rollout simultaneously.

Infrastructure, Devices, and the Download Speed of the Future

The promise of enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), or ultra-broadband, includes download speeds of 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps). In the United States, 1 Gbps download speeds are currently available from few select mmWave spectrum deployments. However, with today’s popular C-Band spectrum and existing infrastructure and devices, consumers can achieve download speeds of approximately 250-500 megabits per second (Mbps). As such, eMBB has the potential to make downloading in the future twice as fast.

Most current mobile devices are not equipped to receive the mmWave band radio frequencies that can support 1 Gbps download speeds. Smartphones that run on 4G can only receive frequencies that are fixed and cannot be altered to “tune into” the new 5G spectrum signals. For service providers to fully capitalize on their investments in 5G, mobile devices capable of receiving next-generation radio frequencies will need to become more widely available to consumers.

The Need for 5G Compatible Apps

In addition to infrastructure and devices, the need exists for new software applications that can support features such as 8K video streaming, connected live gaming, and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies. On a smartphone, these technologies require very high throughput and just a few milliseconds of latency. At present, there are hardly any new “popular” apps that are driving public demand for devices that are true 5G and, eventually, 6G compatible.

A seamless integration between mobile devices, available networks offering high-frequency signals, and applications is critical. As mobile edge computing (MEC) is used to create networks that are more localized, applications that can leverage the benefits of MEC need to be developed. Currently, there are just a few applications that can run on MEC, and existing apps like self-driving cars and AR/VR technologies would require the low latency that MEC offers.

Power Challenges of 5G Connectivity

Other challenges created by widespread access to 5G connectivity include the need for localized power sources required for small cells, FWA and MEC data centers. Due to space constraints, these compact, server-like spaces require high-efficiency power solutions and innovative cooling systems.

Furthermore, outdoor 5G private networks that serve critical infrastructure like mining locations and port operations will require rugged, compact, fan-less power solutions for pole-mounted radios. For indoor 5G private networks including office buildings and stadiums, compact, efficient power systems will be needed to help keep scores of devices connected with low latency and high data throughput.

The Consequences of a Non-Seamless Rollout

For service providers, the vast amount of time, resources, and revenue they have invested will be at risk if all the related elements of 5G connectivity fail to work together seamlessly. For consumers, there would be disappointment and indifference about taking advantage of upgraded networks and enhanced capabilities in the absence of new and exciting ways to use them.

The seamless rollout of all the related elements of 5G has the potential to disrupt the status quo and result in paths for monetization for mobile network operators. But its application extends far beyond just smartphones. By carefully integrating networks, infrastructure, and applications, an unprecedented level of interconnectivity in the future could revolutionize how we live, work, and play.

What’s the next step in 5G’s evolution in the US market? Join the operators in discussion at Connected America, live in Dallas

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