Gearing up for the 5G rollout

By: James Bourne

26, November, 2019


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Think of all the latest technologies that have been doing their rounds in newspapers, magazines and tech publications — can an enterprise successfully deploy these without a superfast internet connection? In the race to serve the customer and employee better by adopting the emerging technologies, 5G has secured a central position.

Along comes the cost increase

At the core of 5G network implementation is the deployment of small cells. However, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to small cell deployment. Certainly, small cells are useful for densely populated areas but increasing the number of cell bases can be expensive. This expense may be delayed to a later date by building on the 4G networks. However, as traffic increases and the network upgrades fail to support the greater traffic, operators will have to build new macro sites or small cells. In fact, simulations show that operators will have to start building these sites between 2020 and 2025. A Zion Market Research report predicts the global 5G enterprise market to reach USD 19.5bn by 2025, driven by the constant need to upgrade enterprise network infrastructure [1].

Energy sector gets jittery too

Moreover, the deployment of additional base stations will mean a higher energy bill. To tackle this issue, researchers have been looking for ways to reduce energy consumption, as well as heat and carbon dioxide emissions. One start-up has been designing smart antennas that will transmit a more concentrated signal in the direction of the mobile user.

Meanwhile, energy groups have also been getting jittery over the 5G rollout. The Utilities Technology Council in the US has presented a white paper warning regulators that a 5G rollout without adequate bandwidth may adversely impact the electric grid and critical infrastructure. UTC’s President and CEO Joy Ditto has said that limiting spectrum for utilities will threaten the reliability of the electric grid [2].

Network equipment firms like Cisco and Qualcomm have been working on the 5G NR technology solutions to reduce power consumption. 5G NR has been designed such as to facilitate a denser network while delivering increased energy efficiency. The base station can be put to a sleep state when there is no traffic, turning off hardware components and in turn, resulting in lower power consumption. On the other hand, previous technologies, like the LTE, had always-on signals[3].

It’s time to buckle up!

Well, the cost and energy consumption increases are just one aspect of the mammoth task at hand. All devices will have to be 5G compatible to work effectively through the network (that’s another addition to the costs). Small cells will be deployed on city-owned assets and so, will require permits from the concerned authorities. Industry and businesses will also have to invest in security design of their IoT structure. Before setting out on doing all of the above, organisations will first have to outline their near-term, mid-term and long-term goals with 5G network.

Keeping in mind the low-latency and network slicing capabilities that 5G will offer, the possibilities cover improved Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), telemedicine, remote surgeries and much more. For enterprises, 5G will also help cheaply connect different clouds. It can also be effectively employed for AR/VR meetings. Network slicing will also facilitate enterprises to dedicate different bandwidths for different services. They will also be able to leverage AR and VR to enhance their AI-based customer engagement.

The possibilities with 5G are vast! Hear about the true potential of 5G at the on-going 5G Expo Global 2020 in London.