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5G is About to Change the World. Here’s How it Works

5G at a Glance

Several aspects of 5G technology allow mobile operators to create a faster, larger network than ever before while maintaining lower latency than was previously possible. Just how fast are we talking? Up to 20 gigabits per second downlink speed, compared to 4G/LTE’s maximum speed of 150 megabits per second.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of 5G’s capabilities:

detailed breakdown of 5G’s capabilities

Exploring the 5G Fundamentals

There are five key technology aspects that contribute to achieving 5G objectives in mobile networks. If we look at each aspect of 5G technology separately, we can see precisely how it uses new innovations to create faster, bigger networks.

  1. Network Function Virtualization (NFV): NFV works by decoupling network services from proprietary hardware appliances and running them as software applications on commodity hardware. With NFV, operators can design, deploy and manage a wide array of network services in an agile and scalable manner, while simultaneously requiring less power, cooling and space.
  2. Control- and user-plane separation (CUPS): CUPS allows the control plane and data plane resources to scale separately, meaning that significantly larger amounts of traffic can be accommodated. As an added bonus, CUPS also enables more efficient data delivery in software-defined networking (SDN) architectures.
  3. Multi-access edge computing (MEC): MEC can help meet the significant speed and latency demands of 5G use cases, like IoT and large-scale infrastructure management, by bringing the computing power of the core network closer to the radio access network (RAN). MEC architecture reduces network traffic to the core and helps support the enormous number of devices expected in 5G. MEC can also be used to improve overall network security by applying security detection and mitigation devices at the edge.
  4. New RAN technologies: 5G RAN technologies are different from their 4G/LTE counterparts in a number of ways, the first being that their Massive MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) systems will increase antenna capacity by up to 20x. Also important is the inability of 5G waves to pass through obstacles, meaning that many small cells will need to be deployed to achieve even coverage.
  5. Network slicing: Network slicing, which is made possible by NFV, allows network operators to create a multitude of virtual networks that are customized to suit the needs of individual customers or services. For example, you might have one slice for autonomous driving that prioritizes low latency, while you might have another slice for streaming video that prioritizes throughput but not low latency.

Mobile operators are rapidly launching 5G services, although full coverage will take a number of years to implement. Migration to 5G is a complex process and network operators will need to carefully consider their transition strategies, determine the best 5G security approaches, and work closely with the entire 5G ecosystem to capture the cost and revenue benefits of 5G.

To learn more about 5G technology and how you can succeed with 5G, download the “Modernize Your 4G/LTE Network Now for 5G Success” white paper now.

You may also be interested in:
(1) 5G Security & Scale
(2) Mobile Carrier Security



Terry Young
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July 22, 2019

Terry Young is Director of 5G Marketing at A10 Networks. She is responsible for developing programs and marketing material that describe business value of A10 solutions for mobile… Read More