5G – The next generation of Mobile Broadband
The 5th generation of mobile technologies – 5G, is a significant step beyond 4G LTE networks in multiple aspects. 5G was defined to reduce latency, increase bandwidth, increase reliability and allow for significantly greater numbers of devices. 5G, in reality, is not one, but actually a number of technologies; defined by 3GPP as “5G NR” (New Radio) and SMARTER (Study on New Services and Markets Technology Enablers), and by ITU with IMT-2020.
The 3 use cases of 5G
5G is focused on three specific and significantly different use cases – Enhanced Mobile Broadband, Massive Machine to Machine, and Ultra-reliable low latency communications.
- Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB)– Higher data rates, Higher capacity capacity and connectivity expansive area. This is the what most consumers would expect 5G to be, comparing to the common usage of 4G. This is Mobile Broadband.
- Massive machine to machine communications or massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC) – Millions of devices, low power, low bandwidth. This is IoT – The Internet of Things.
- Ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC) –vehicle to vehicle communications, autonomous driving, telesurgery – anything that needs millisecond type latency, and near zero loss. This is the Tactile Internet.
5G has been allocated (and continues to be allocated) spectrum in a number of ranges, low, mid and high frequencies, because of the variety of use cases. In the US, there are 4 major areas.
- Unlicensed – Shared spectrum
- Above 95GHz
- Low – Passes through building material easily and travels miles.
- Mid – Includes unlicensed frequencies, hindered by buildings, fair amount of bandwidth available.
- High – Millimeter wave. High speed and bandwidth, poor penetration.
As of the end of 2022, the FCC has all of these blocks of spectrum allocated or under review for licensed 5G use.
Internationally, each country allocates independently, and thus utilizes different available ranges, but the use cases dictate that there will be some available spectrum within certain general ranges.