When it seems that our smartphones cannot surf the Internet faster, new technology arrives that makes the previous one obsolete. 4G is about to be replaced by 5G. If 2G allowed us to send SMS between two mobile phones and 3G offered excellent voice transmission quality and the ability to surf the Internet, with 4G we could do all this much faster.
So what advantages is 5G going to bring us? With 5G the download speed of our terminals will increase up to 10 gigabits per second, allowing us to download and upload Ultra HD content and 3D videos in seconds. The limit of our smartphones still seems to be far away.
The main goal of previous generations of mobile networks was to provide network users with fast and reliable mobile data services. 5G extends this range and provides end-users with a wide range of wireless services across multiple access platforms and multi-layer networks.
5G(generation) is actually a dynamic, coherent, and flexible framework that contains a variety of advanced technologies and supports multiple applications. 5G uses a smarter architecture, and its radio access network ( RAN ) is no longer limited by the proximity of base stations or complex infrastructure. 5G is leading the way towards decentralized, flexible, and virtual RAN, with new interfaces creating additional data access points.
5G architecture 3GPP
The Third Generation Partnership Project ( 3GPP ) involves telecommunications technologies, including radio access, core transmission networks, and service capabilities. 3GPP provides a complete system specification for the 5G network architecture, which is more service-oriented than the previous generations3GPP It provides services to network functions that allow the use of these services through a common framework. The modularity, reusability, and self-containment of network functions are additional design considerations for the 5G(generation) network architecture described by the 3GPP specification.
5G Spectrum and Frequency
There are now multiple frequency ranges dedicated to 5G New Radio (NR). The part of the radio spectrum with a frequency between 30 GHz and 300 GHz is called millimeter wave because its wavelength varies from 1-10 mm. At present, the frequency allocated to 5G in many regions of the world is between 24 GHz and 100 GHz.
In addition to millimeter waves, underutilized UHF frequencies between 300 MHz and 3 GHz have also been re-used for 5G. The diversity of frequencies used can be adjusted according to the specific application because higher frequencies correspond to higher bandwidth (although the range is shorter). The frequency of millimeter waves is ideal for densely populated areas, but the effect is poor for long-distance communication. In these high and low-frequency bands dedicated to 5G(generation), each operator has begun to develop its own independent part in the 5G spectrum.
Multi-Access Edge Computing ( MEC ) is an important part of 5G architecture. MEC is a development of cloud computing. It brings applications from a centralized data center to the edge of the network, thereby bringing it closer to end users and their devices. This actually creates a shortcut for content delivery between the user and the host and the long network path that used to separate them. This technology is not exclusive to 5G, but it is certainly an integral part of its efficiency.
MEC features include low latency, high bandwidth, and real-time access to RAN information, which distinguishes the 5G architecture from previous generations of mobile networks. This convergence of RAN and core networks will require operators to use new methods for network testing and verification. The 5G network based on the 3GPP 5G specification is an ideal environment for deploying MEC. The 5G(generation) specification defines the driving factors for edge computing, allowing MEC and 5G to cooperatively route traffic. In addition to the delay and bandwidth advantages of the MEC architecture, the distribution of computing power will better support a large number of interconnected devices inherent in 5G deployments and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT).
NFV and 5G Network
Function Virtualization ( NFV ) separates software from hardware by replacing various network functions such as firewalls, load balancers, and routers with virtual instances running in software. This eliminates the need to invest in many expensive hardware elements and can also speed up installation time, thereby providing customers with income-generating services faster. NFV supports fifth-generation infrastructure by virtualizing devices within the 5G network. This includes network slicing technology that allows multiple virtual networks to run simultaneously. NFV can solve other 5G problems through virtual computing, storage and network resources, which are customized based on application and customer segmentation.
5G RAN architecture For example, the concept of NFV is extended to radio access networks (RANs) through network diversity promoted by alliances such as O-RAN. This brings flexibility and creates new opportunities for competition, provides open interfaces and open source development, and ultimately simplifies the scale deployment of new features and technologies.
The goal of the O-RAN alliance is to allow off-the-shelf hardware for multi-vendor deployment to achieve easier and faster interoperability. Network diversity also allows the virtualization of network components, thereby providing a way to expand and improve the user experience as capacity increases. From a hardware and software perspective, the benefits of virtualizing RAN components provide a more economical method, especially for IoT applications with millions of devices.
The network diversity that eCPRI uses for function division also brings other cost advantages, especially with the introduction of new interfaces such as eCPRI. When testing a large number of 5G carriers, the RF interface is not cost-effective because the cost of RF will increase rapidly. The introduction of the eCPRI interface provides a more economical solution because fewer interfaces can be used to test multiple 5G carriers. The goal of eCPRI is to become a 5G standardized interface for example in O-RAN fronthaul interfaces such as DU. Compared with eCPRI, CPRI was developed for 4G, but in many cases, it is unique to suppliers, which poses problems for operators.
The key factor that may realize the full potential of the 5G architecture is network slicing. This technology adds an additional dimension to the NFV domain by allowing multiple logical networks to run simultaneously on the shared physical network infrastructure. By creating an end-to-end virtual network that includes networking and storage capabilities, this has become an integral part of the 5G architecture.
By dividing network resources among multiple users or “tenants”, operators can effectively manage different 5G use cases with different throughput, latency, and availability requirements.
Network slicing is very useful for applications like IoT, where the number of users may be very high, but the overall bandwidth requirements are low. Each 5G vertical has its own needs, so network slicing has become an important design consideration for fifth-generation network architecture. The cost of network configuration, resource management, and flexibility can now be optimized with this level of customization. In addition, network slicing can speed up the testing of potential 5G new services and shorten the time to market.
Another breakthrough technology that is integral to the success of 5G is beamforming. Traditional base stations do not consider the location of target users or devices and send signals in multiple directions. By using dozens of small antennas to form an array of multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) arrays, signal processing algorithms can be used to determine the most effective transmission path to each user, and a single packet can be sent to multiple Directions, and then arranged into a predetermined order to reach the end-user.
5G data transmission occupies millimeter waves, and the free space propagation loss (proportional to the smaller antenna size) and diffraction loss (inherent due to higher frequencies and inability to penetrate walls) are significantly greater. On the other hand, the smaller antenna size also allows larger arrays to be placed in the same physical space. As these smaller antennas may reassign the beam direction several times per millisecond, it becomes more feasible to solve the challenges of fifth-generation bandwidth through large-scale beamforming. With a larger antenna density in the same physical space, narrower beams can be achieved through massive MIMO, thus providing a means for achieving higher throughput and more effective user tracking.