5G Technology: Everything we need to know about

(Hamid Khakwani, )

Every new generation of wireless network delivers faster speed and more functionality to our smart phones. 1G brought us the very first cell phones, 2G let us text for the first time, 3G brought us online, and 4G delivered the speed that we enjoy today, but as more user come online 4G networks just about to reach limit of what they are capable of at the time when users want even more data for smart phones and devices.

Now we are heading towards 5G the next generation of wireless. It will be able to handle 1000 time more traffic then todays network, and will be 10 times faster than 4G LTE. Just imagine downloading HD movie in under a second and then let your imagination run wild. 5G will be the foundation of Virtual Reality, Autonomous Driving, the internet of things, and stuff we can’t imagine, but exactly what is the 5G network?
The truth is expert can’t tell what 5G is, because they don’t even know yet. But right now there are 5 brand new technologies emerging as the foundation of 5G such as Millimeter waver, Small cells, Massive MIMO, Beamforming, and Full Duplex.

First, technology Millimeter Waves, your smart phones and other electronic devices in your homes use very specific frequencies on radio frequency spectrum. Typically those are under 6 gigahertz, but these frequencies are started to get more crowded. Criers can only squeeze so many bits of data on same amount of radio frequency spectrum. As more devices come online we are going to see slower services and dropped connections. The solution is to open up some new realistic. So researcher are experimenting with broadcast shorter millimeter waves. Those who fall between 30 and 300 GHz. This section of spectrum never been used before from available devises and opening it up means for everyone. But there is a catch millimeter waves can’t travel well through buildings and other obstacles and can be absorbs by plans and rains.

To get around this problem we need Small Cells networks. Today’s wireless networks rely on high power cell towers to broadcast there signal over long distances, but remember higher frequency millimeter waves have a hard time travelling through obstacles. Which mean if you move behind one you loss signals. Small cell networks will solve that problem using thousands of low power mini base stations. These mini base stations will be much closer than traditional  towers. This would especially useful in cities as a user moves walk behind the obstacles his smart phone will automatically switch to another base station in better range of his device allowing him to keep connection.

Then Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) will come. Today 4G base station has dozen ports for antenna that handles all cellular traffic, but massive MIMO bases can support about a 100 ports. This can increase the capacity of today’s network by factor of 22 or more. Off course massive MIMO comes with its own complications. Today’s cellular antenna broadcast information in every direction it wants, and all of us crossing signals can cause serious interference.

This bring us the Beamforming technology. Beamforming is just like traffic signals for cellular signals. Instead of broadcasting in every directions it will allow base stations to send a focus stream of data to its specific users. This precision presence interferenceand its way more efficient. That means stations can handle more incoming and outgoing data at once.

Then comes Full Duplex technology. If you have ever used the walkie-talkie you know that in order to communicate you have to take turns talking and listening. That’s kind of drag. Today’s cellular companies’ base station have that exact holdup. A basic antenna can do on job at a time either transmit or receive. This is because of a basic principle called reciprocity which make the radio waves moves forward and backward along with the same frequencies. To understand this it helps to think of wave like a train loaded up with data. The frequency it’s travelling on is like a train track, and if there is a second train trying to go opposite direction of the same track they are going to get interference. Up till now the solution has been to have train take turns or to put all trains on different tracks or frequencies, but you can make things lot more efficient by working around reciprocity.

Researchers have used silicon transistor to create high speed switches that hold the backward role of these ways. It’s kind of signaling systems that can momentarilyreroute trains so that they can pass each other. That mean there is lot more done on each track a whole lot faster.

Experts are still working out many of kinks Millimeter Waves, Small cell Networks, Massive MIMO, Beamforming and Full Duplex. Infect all of 5G is work in progress. It will likely include other new technologies too, and making all this systems together will be a whole other challenge, but if expert can figure that out ultra-fast 5G services could arrive in next 5 years.

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