5G means 5G

By | February 12, 2017

5G is an evolution – not a revolution – leastways according to 3GPP, the cellular standards group.  This is the interpretation of 3GPP’s newly specified logo.  That assertion is already being tested.  The new logo was announced on the same day as we gained insight into an advanced high speed 5G trial in Korea.

Most mobile users are either standing still or moving slowly.  Tracking faster-moving devices has always been a challenge in the cellular world.  Directional matrix antenna operate at the limits of processing speed for matrix inversion.   Once the device is moving beyond 70mph the return signal targeting prediction becomes a major issue.  And to further complicate the design challenges, at the 28GHz frequency used in this trial, the signal coverage area reduces to 200 metres radius.  So between TX and RX there could be a greater need to pass the baton to an adjacent base station.

The reported trial claimed a travel speed of 170 kilometres per hour with a data rate of 3.6Gbps – thus achieving a massive information flow in the very short time available.   Whether, in the real world, this will prove practical (especially for autonomous vehicles) will depend on coverage universality at least on motorways and major rail routes – and that in turn will hinge on the availability of full fibre for low-latency backhaul.   Evolution or Revolution? Cellular blankets may comfort vested interests but, however defined, 5G will not cling to the past. (08/02/2017)