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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 network operators and other service providers. Prior to A10 Networks, Terry has 20 years experience in the telecommunications industry, including AT&T (mobile and fixed businesses), where she developed market strategy recommendations for new business initiatives for AT&T. As a principal analyst for a syndicated market research company early in the 3G technology introduction, her 3G/4G market analysis and forecasts were published by the UMTS Forum. She also previously held positions with several start-up mobile infrastructure and software vendors, including Infoblox and Palo Alto Networks. Terry has an MBA from Arizona State University and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read More