5G Forecast to 2023 | Daily News Byte


The world’s reliance on cellular networks is undeniable. There are more than 8 billion mobile subscribers in the world, and the average monthly data usage per subscriber will increase from 15 GB by the end of 2022 to 40 GB by the end of 2027. With increased demand for both traffic and service quality, the world is waiting for 5G deliver on promises of coverage and excellence.

5G provides faster speeds, higher capacity, better reliability and lower latency. This is achieved by advances in radio access technology with wider bandwidth and higher frequencies, as well as a new 5G core architecture with end-to-end network intersection and guaranteed quality of service. New applications can take advantage of what 5G has to offer and enable science fiction-like experiences such as self-driving cars, remote operations, factory cloning and robotic agriculture.

5G network concept. Source: Getty

For service providers and the telecommunications industry, 5G deployment is a major and critical endeavor as they seek to increase market share with a more powerful, programmable network. This is achieved by implementing 5G SA architecture and supporting time-sensitive applications, higher capacity needs and edge computing. Unfortunately, improvements have been hampered by development issues in the radio access network and applications. However, this will change in 2023 due to new advances in hardware technology and the ease of deployment of small cells and private networks.

In 2023, we will see the first deployments of 5G that will allow mobile users and businesses to fully experience the power of the technology at scale. The increase in 5G small cell coverage comes with lower costs, ease of use and lower power consumption, which will drive 5G deployment including special use cases and mission-critical services.

What is a small cell?

A small cell is a mini wireless network base station with integrated RF and network functions to provide mobile access to a smaller number of users in indoor or outdoor environments. They are designed to be small, compact and unobtrusive. In the US, FCC guidelines require small cells to be no larger than 3 cubic feet. In addition, small cells must be deployed on structures 50 feet high, including their antennas. These structures cannot be more than 10 percent taller than neighboring structures and cannot extend their existing structure to a height greater than 50 feet or more than 10 percent.

5G for everyone

The 5G standard is designed to bring broadband capabilities to the widest possible user base; to bridge the gaps of zero coverage in places such as rural areas, or to increase coverage to support huge numbers of users in high-density urban locations. While macrocells are the main choice of application for providing mobile access and covering a large area with a mobile signal, service providers face multiple challenges with this type of equipment. Macrocells are high-capacity radio equipment with high-power signals that generally stand 200 feet or more with strict requirements for physical locations and regulatory laws. They are expensive and consume hundreds of kilowatts of electricity.

High power macrocells also do not send a reliable signal to all areas. Moving from an outdoor space to an indoor building with thick walls generally results in limited connectivity. This is even more of a problem with a large number of users indoors. Devices at the edge experience weaker signals. In congested areas, even if the user is not at the edge or in a closed environment, the growing demand for traffic and data leads to slower speeds and higher latency, thereby limiting applications.

Meanwhile, businesses and enterprises require large-scale data analytics tools where their information is stored safely and securely, while network equipment has the ability to support high-traffic communications and use 5G-enabled applications. Macrocells simply cannot do this.

Recent breakthroughs in hardware technology give network equipment manufacturers the ability to develop energy-efficient and cost-effective small cell equipment with better thermal management, smaller form factors and higher performance. These new, small cells make it possible to extend 5G coverage in hard-to-reach areas, closed buildings and very dense environments. With comprehensive 5G coverage as the goal, in 2023 the telecommunications industry and service providers will finally move to deploying small cells in larger quantities to solve the coverage and capacity issues of 5G deployment.

Federal and regional governments have realized the benefits of how small cells can power 5G coverage. In 2022, more than 13 states in the US have proposed legislation encouraging the introduction of small cells. Laws and resolutions have already been passed in New York, Tennessee and Hawaii. These laws generally make it easier to license and install small cells in each state, including streamlining applications to access public sites where small cells will be deployed, keeping implementation costs low, and expediting cell site licensing and processing.

We will see practical application of small cells in both consumer and business/enterprise markets in 2023.

Consumer Fixed Wireless Access (FVA)

The first and fastest way to bring 5G to consumers will come in a small box available from your mobile providers. It is predicted that by the end of 2022 there will be over 100 million FVA connections. Consumer indoor and outdoor equipment (CPE) will become widely available in 2023, starting in India, and parts of the US CPE connections are the best way to expand 5G coverage in areas where cable network and fiber installations are not practical. This includes rural areas and dense urban cities. Both small cells and macro cells complement each other to provide a 5G signal to end users, including CPE boxes. Small cells bridge the gap to cover areas where macrocells either lack sufficient economic justification or are too difficult to deploy due to physical limitations.

5G – companies in the private network

With the clear advantages of 5G cellular technology over the legacy wireless LAN (Wi-Fi), private entities, businesses and organizations can develop a private mobile network and take advantage of it in their own controlled and secure environment using the newly available small cell equipment. The cost and energy advantages of advanced hardware and software solutions make private 5G networks one of the early adopters of 5G.

Radio access equipment (small cells or private network access points) operates over leased licensed bands or unlicensed bands (Citizens Broadband Radio Service, CBRS.) CBRS is a band of radio frequency spectrum from 3.5 GHz to 3.7 GHz that the FCC designated for joint use. Edge devices or users must have access to the allocated band either through a subscription or via a provided SIM card. This means that a private cellular network includes all the technology and equipment necessary to set up a functional wireless network.

After 2023

2023 will be the year of small cells. Fixed wireless access and private networks will be the first real taste of the power of 5G. What can we look forward to in 2024?

In many ways, 2023 is a stepping stone to a 5G future with its full potential. The implementations we will see will likely happen regionally, depending on government regulations and approaches. Fixed wireless and private network deployments begin regionally in the US, parts of Asia and India in 2023. In 2024, we should see more widespread deployments of small cells across Europe.

On the technology side, many in the industry are looking to O-RAN, or Open Radio Access Network, to change the game in 5G. This will begin to happen in 2024, as service providers upgrade their 5G radio infrastructure with ORAN in mind. ORAN enables providers to virtualize backhaul, giving them greater flexibility to build faster, programmable networks with best-in-class equipment. ORAN is essential to achieving the vision we all want for 5G.


Dr. Marzieh Weiseh, co-founder and CPO of SiTune Corp., has been actively involved in the development of wireless communication for over 18 years and holds more than 20 patents. Dr. Weiseh combines his research background with experience solving real-world problems in his roles as both CTO and CPO. Source: SiTune


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