This is really long, sorry, but it may be of use someday. You get two blogs for one.
The 5G Myths
Oh boy, since 5G was even talked about, there have been a ton of 5G myths. I mean all kinds of rumors. Not always on the good side, but from what will happen in cities, to people, and the health implications of 5G. It’s almost as if we opened up a magical portal to Hogwarts that could be evil or good. Honestly, it’s not like 5G will open a black hole or that we will need Harry Potter to defend us against dark forces. We don’t expect the Empire to use 5G to take over control of the universe. That Darth Vader needs 5G to help the Force rise in him so that all the other Darths could come to life and conquer the Earth. Let’s walk through some that I have heard. These cover anything. I want to discuss health, small cell distribution, how ugly poles will be, what speeds we are likely to expect, how it will allow IOT to control everything, and so on. FYI – strong language is ahead. This is the warning that your mother can’t be here to hold your hand. Why strong language? Because I am tired of these questions and people blaming 5G, a technology that is not even rolled out to the masses, being blamed for all the world’s problems. We don’t have world peace, oh, it must be because 5G is rolling out.
5G radio waves are killing me and destroying my health!
Oh my GOD, if I hear one more person say that the 5G rays are going to strike them dead or cause cancer, I have to laugh in their face. This is an ongoing thing. Remember when 4G was going to kill them? They’re still here bitching, so I guess 4G failed so we had to invent 5G to wipe out all the whiners!
Let me be blunt, it’s the spectrum stupid! It is not the G, 3G, 4G, or 5G, it’s the spectrum being used. There is no link between the carriers spectrum and any diverse health effect at a safe distance. The people at the biggest risk are the tower climbers that have to go within feet of the antennas. The only risk from RF would be if the carrier installs a full power site outside someone’s window on a pole in a city. Then, you could feel the effects of the RF over an extended period of time. That should be the city’s fault for allowing it to happen or the carriers fault for not lowering the power to a safe level. When looking at how any RF can affect you, think about it first. Let’s put this into perspective on this. You have a microwave that operates in the 2.45GHz spectrum. While it is shielded, you still have some leakage. Yet, many of you probably plant your face in front of the window to watch the popcorn pop or water boil. Don’t lie, you all did it once. Now, that spectrum, 2.45GHz, is also used for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ISM band, unlicensed stuff. The FCC deemed that for low power unlicensed operations, it is safe. So, let’s look at Bluetooth, you have a device that is literally the same RF spectrum as your microwave that you plug into your ears, holes in your skull so that it is as close to the brain as possible without the protection of the skull. Even if you wear your tin foil hat, you probably plug these in underneath that hat. Giving the RF a clear path to your brain. How do you feel now? Maybe a little stupid, but not scared enough to give up those cool air pods that you love so much. Am I right? I love my Bluetooth headset! So, think of the RF and the power. The FCC has a website dedicated to this subject;
To be clear, there is no link between RF and cancer. If anything, RF is used to fight cancer in some hospitals.
So which is it? Is the RF killing you or would you use it to save you? To be clear, 5G is going to start using the new spectrum, mmwave, which in the USA is 24GHz, 28GHz, and 39GHz. Again, no link between that and bad health unless you stick your head two inches from the antenna for a very long time.
I have had RF burns. I have known people that have been hurt form RF. It was never some yahoo sitting at home. The people that got hurt, really injured, were all tower climbers and radio techs. They were close to RF. Some got hurt because they took unnecessary chances, like me, I got an RF burn on my hand while working on a radio on the ground. Others were lied to while working on very high power transmitters. I did a story on a guy working a TV tower and the tech did not turn the power down. I did a story back in 2014, found here:
This guy, Bruce Elle, was working on a broadcast tower. For those of you who don’t know, that would be TV stations. They are very high power yet very low spectrum that, until recently, was not used for mobile communications. Anyway, Bruce was on a tower where they turned the power up while he was on the tower and within feet of the broadcast antenna. He was actually sitting on the antenna to replace a beacon. This caused him damage that led to him changing professions. He could no longer climb after that. We have learned a lot since then, but hi power radiation is nothing to be taken lightly.
Now, back to you. You could have a sensitivity to RF. Some people do. Also, sometimes systems are put in where the power is not set at a safe level, that happens. It is the responsibility of all involved to ensure that power levels are safe for people on the street and in their homes. The carrier carries the burden and it’s up to the municipality to check that if there are complaints. By the way, it’s not always the carriers. Many utility companies put in smart meters which, depending on what system they’re on, could cause people headaches or ringing in the ears. If you think RF is a problem, then here is what I want you to do:
- Turn off all your Wi-Fi in your home,
- Remove your Wi-Fi router.
- Turn off your Wi-Fi in your laptop, Kindle, iPad, iPod, smartphone, etc.
- Thrown all your wireless devices away, including phones, smartphones, Android devices, Alexa, laptops, smart TVs, baby monitors, iPads, anything.
- Destroy all your Bluetooth devices including headsets, air pods, cordless microphones, anything.
- Remove and destroy all of your smart devices like thermostats, light switches, cameras, lights, or anything that is controlled by wirelessly by Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or other technology.
- Then, go live in a cave.
If you can live without a smartphone, laptop, and Wi-Fi, good luck. RF is not the problem you think it is, 5G is not the problem. It’s funny because people that don’t live in a 5G coverage area are already complaining. At least wait until it’s deployed near you before you start complaining, honestly.
5G is listening to everything I say and watching everything I do.
Let’s start with the obvious, 5G is just now rolling out, it can’t possibly monitor anything unless you are in that specific area. Seriously, give it time to roll out and then ask, “is 5G listening to everything I say?” No, it’s not, Alexa is doing that and you probably set that up in your home. So technically, Wi-Fi is supporting Alexa listening to everything you do and tracking everything you buy. Just like what you do, your Android phone is doing that no matter what spectrum or technology it’s using. They are watching everything you do, where you go, how you work out, and what you eat. It’s not 5G, it’s your stupid smartphone and Alexa on Wi-Fi that is monitoring all that you do. Guess what, you set up Wi-Fi in your home and chances are good you paid over $40 USD to put that Alexa somewhere where it can hear everything you say and your TV or Laptop audio. Oh, what about your cable TV box? Chances are good that is monitoring everything you watch and when you watch it. Just like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Just like Google looks at everything you search for online. Google is listing everywhere on every device you have, except maybe your iPhone. Apply used to take privacy very seriously. You are being spied on, but it has nothing to do with 4G or 5G. It has everything to do with uncle Google and Aunt Amazon, they watch everything you do very carefully! Do they are, only if you stop purchasing things! Then they get upset. As long as you’re spending money, they are happy. The reality is, you’re telling someone everything about you. When you search, they learn. When you purchase something, they learn. Do you want to search without Uncle Google watching, use DuckDuckGo, https://duckduckgo.com/ when you want to search privately without Uncle Google? When you see ads that pop up based on what you were searching for, it’s Uncle Google guiding you. When Amazon recommends something that you asked Alexa to look up an hour ago, that’s Aunt Amazon helping you.
Do you think that crap happens randomly?
5G is trying to control me!
Seriously, this is a thing. It just came out and already people picture mind control. If you want to see mind control and manipulation, read the previous section about Uncle Google and Aunt Amazon. While they are not your parents, they are trying to “guide” you. If 5G isn’t deployed, how can it control you? In fact, did 4G control you? Maybe you watch TV, now that could control you, after all, it talks to you and Iw ould bet you listen to it. Or, maybe you ask Google or YouTube for help and they tell you what to do and you do it. Maybe you see an Amazon add that recommends you buy a product, and you buy it. Don’t blame 5G for controlling your mind sucker.
5G will control everything I have!
OK, the reality is that Wi-Fi and 4G already have access to most everything you have. That was not only done with your permission, but chances are you set it up that way. Cars need feedback, so car companies use 3G and 4G to gather information. This has led to security issues. However, if you have a Tesla, then you know that they are always upgrading their car’s software. It makes it more efficient. Look at your laptop and smartphone, always connected and always updating. If you have a smart anything in your home, like smart thermostats, lights, switches, cameras, doorbells, alarms, or anything that is connected wirelessly, or wired, then they already have access to your home and devices. Chances are good you paid extra money for all that stuff just to control it all from your device. You pay extra to have the remote control. Even your TV can be smart, which means it’s connected, probably through Wi-Fi. So yes, chances are good that if you paid for it they can control everything you have.
5G will destroy my health:
So I covered the Radio wave part, but here is yet another health argument. Once again, it just came out, it hasn’t had time to do anything to you. I’ll say this once, get your head out of your ass! You are destroying your health with your addiction to your smartphone and videos. It’s your constant staring at your smartphone and texting that is destroying your health. You’re looking down all the time is ruining your posture. Your lazy ordering of junk food from your smartphone is destroying your health. If you’re counting your steps, then it is helping your health if you don’t hurt yourself from all the walking. Honestly, 5G? Look at your habits fatty! Are you sitting in a chair hunched over in the dark eating nachos or Cheetos while staring at NetFlix on your smartphone? Then, when you run out of nachos or Cheetos, you may say out loud, “Alexa, order more shit that will clog up my arteries”. Then, 6 months later you wonder how the hell you put on 80 lbs of belly fat. Maybe buying that intravenous needle that can put beer directly into your bloodstream off the internet was not such a great idea after all. I read a report by Dimitris Mavrakis from ABI Research talking about how 5G and the spectrum will affect humans. I have 3 reports listed in the references section telling you that it is minimal. In fact, the power levels for 5G from the BTS will be lower. The fact is, they tried to increase radiation in rats and the cancer risk went up in female rats by 1%, maybe they spent too much time talking, I don’t know. All I know is that the governments around the world have regulations on the RF emi\ssions at a site, some are more stringent than others but most are concerned with the effect it will have on human health. It’s already there for your protection. Again, it’s the RF radiation, not 5g! Listen, stop blaming the devices and 5G and start using that device’s health apps. Count your steps, meditate, read a book about self-reflection and exercise. God almighty, take some responsibility for your own health, stop blaming 5G! You make your habits, not 5G. You made the decision to eat twinkies every night before bed or bought a Dairy Queen Blizzard every day on your way home from work. You, not 5G. In fact, no one told you to do it, you just liked it! Where your smartphone can help is having you count your daily steps. Get off your ass fatty!
5G is causing a problem between the US and China.
OK, here is what I am hearing out there. I’ll address them one at a time. The 5G race is a matter of national pride between the US and China. My opinion, if this is all the problems we have, then life is good. However, it’s not. I can’t address them all but here’s the deal. When 5G came out, there have been security questions. When the Chinese government owns part of every Chinese company, Americans get nervous that the Chinese government will be able to spy on the Americans that have anything Huawei or ZTE on it. It is communism after all. Americans don’t want the Chinese to know when they look at porn, but the Chinese can’t look at porn because the government regulates their internet connection. Unless you’re a Chinese hacker, then the Chinese government lets you do whatever you want. Well, maybe they can’t track the hackers who VPN to another country, like Finland, and then look at porn. While the Americans spy on people too, let’s face it, they are all at fault here, the Americans have to go through a process to gather information on the covert activity. The American’s perception of communism is that the government can do what they want whenever they want. Then tell people what the Chinese government feels matters. It’s really a matter of trust. Americans do not trust communist governments. Here’s the thing, Americans perceive communism as a dictatorship. We do because Russia is the model. We fear Communism. Anyone ever read “The Gulag Archipelago”? Horrible true stories of a “communist” Gulag. Something that backs this up is when you’re in China, the internet is painful. Honestly, you can’t Google much of anything. Why? Communism governments want complete control over the people and what they can look at. Which, ironically, is not what communism was all about. It was about giving the people control, remember? Isn’t communism supposed to be about treating people equal? Is it really equal when you don’t let them look at American sites? OK, I am an American, but you get the picture. From here I can look at Russian sites, Chinese sites, and Swedish sites. I mention the Swedish site because Swedish women, obviously, are beautiful. I think that the Chinese man should be allowed to look at these beautiful women like I can. Life is not fair in China. In the USA you can find anything, why? Because Capitalist governments are all about freedom and individual rights. A free society and all. Privacy and openness matter to Americans. We let anyone talk openly. We may disagree, but we have our freedom. If the Chinese government won’t let me look up American sites when I am in China, how can I trust them to let me make a free choice when I am on my 5G smartphone? Now, with that said, China has come very fast very quickly. The people get paid very little over there compared to America. I know that when OEMs install in China, they expect to make very low margins. In fact, they look to the high margins in the USA to make up for the losses then sustain just to maintain market share. Yes, it’s sad, but that is another topic. Back to the 5G race between China and America. The 5G standards were literally just set. The spectrum is being upgraded and released. The devices are just now coming out. The business cases are coming to light. It’s not a race with the other country, it’s building a solid business case to make money using accepted standards set by 3GPP. No one seems to get this. One more thing, in China, the government controls everything, so zoning is probably not an issue, whereas in America the carriers have to fight with each municipality to get each individual BTS deployed. It’s not a cake walk, it costs a lot of money, and quite frankly, it’s a pain in the ass. The US carriers have many obstacles that I would imagine the Chinese carriers don’t. Also, standard matter! No matter who the OEM is, Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, Huawei, or ZTE, they don’t want to deploy unless they have solid standards. Now, the rift between the US government and the Chinese government over security and tariffs is another matter. As far as technology for telecom infrastructure, that is not new. I know that eight years ago Huawei was banned from the USA, and that was under Obama, not Trump. This is not new, it’s been ongoing for years. It’s all about business, privacy, and values.
China invented 5G:
No, they did not, In fact, is a worldwide standard set by the 3GPP and adopted by all OEMs. However, Huawei has many patents around 5G, as does Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Samsung. Just remember that 5G is a standard, not proprietary. What is a standard, that means that a universally accepted body, like 3GPP in this case, will set a standard that all work to meet? No one country invented 5G, it is a team effort around the world and among industry professionals.
Why don’t we go straight to 6G?
Because it has to be invented, then standardized, and we need to release 5G first. There is a method to this. It takes about 10 years for the life cycle to work its way through.
5G will have unlimited bandwidth:
OK, to be clear, the amount of spectrum available at any given time will determine the throughput. So if you take today’s spectrum, 5G maybe 30% better, that’s all. Hence, mmwave should help save the day. Again, it’s the spectrum and the way 5G works together, I can’t just take today’s spectrum and expect massive throughput of 10Gbps, I need more. Technology will help, like massive MIMO, that will help serve more users concurrently while passing more throughput.
5G will offer super low latency!
We are looking at 5G to have a latency of 1ms round trip, but that can only be offered over the wireless interface. Here’s the thing, data travels at the speed of light, more or less. It also slows down every time it passes through a machine, meaning a router, mux, radio, etc. What I mean by this, if a doctor in the US tries to operate on a patient in Zimbabwe, there will be latency. It takes time for data, video, voice, anything, to travel across the world. It will not be 1ms like many people are saying. Reality check, travel takes time, the farther away it is, the more time it takes.
5G will allow self-driving cars and robots to interact in real time:
OK, here’s the thing. Most of the artificial intelligence in robots and vehicles will be in the vehicle itself. They really don’t need 5G. 4G would work just fine. If Wi-Fi has coverage, it would work. Updates and data collection can be done over a 5G network. For automobiles to talk to each other, they should do just that, direct communications. They should not rely on an external network to help them communicate if it’s time sensitive. Robots will be the same way. They really don’t need 5G, but it is nice to have them communicate quickly. They need internal AI and they need to have the data collected. It can be done with Wi-Fi, LTE, or 5g NR.
5G will cover everywhere!
Oh my GOD how I wish that were true. Let me paint some reality over you rosy glasses. No, it won’t for a very long time. Coverage everywhere costs money. Upgrading a BTS needs some type of business case to show payback. If a BTS is offering highway coverage only, I don’t see that thing getting upgraded until the 4G system is being decommissioned. To look at this perspective, does your current smartphone ever go back to 3G? If it does, don’t hold your breath waiting for the upgrade! Don’t get me wrong, someday 5G will replace LTE as the standard, but in rural areas, it will be when the roadmap lays it out to be cost-effective. Carriers are not stupid. They are going to spend the money as wisely as they see fit. To be honest, urban users need it now. In the larger cities, they need mmwave to support the need for broadband and new use cases. Just like Massive MIMO, it will allow the existing cell sites to do more than ever before. It just makes sense. For cowboy Bob in rural South Dakota, the carrier may not see the payback. Especially if Bob still has a flip phone.
5G is all about broadband!
This is not true. While that is one of the benefits, it has to offer more use cases. The carriers have bet heavily on the new mmwave spectrum. They didn’t do that so your smartphone can download movies faster. They did it to open up new business cases. Do you remember when pagers were a thing and they all had voicemail? Your cell phone replaced that. Do you remember when your Blackberry did email? Your smartphone replaces that. Do you remember when you needed a Blackberry or laptop to IM back and forth? Your smartphone replaced those items. Do you remember when you bought a TomTom to put GPS in your car? Either that or you paid your car company an extra $2K to add GPS. Now, your smartphone can do that with multiple apps, including WAZE what helps with traffic reports. Do you remember when you would watch the local weather to see if it would rain? Your smartphone will tell you that in an alert. Do you remember when you counted the miles you ran? Now, again, your smartphone does that. Remember when you had an iPod to listen to music? Now you listen to music, books, podcasts, and more on your smartphone on an app. There’s one thing that the carriers are great at, and that is destroying old business models. They put so many businesses out of business by adding it all to the smartphone. Hell, people are trying to figure out how to migrate from a laptop to a smartphone. We’re not quite there yet, but give them time, they will figure it out. Now, the carriers are eyeing up the cable companies that supply you Cable TV, which is becoming less and less important, but also your internet. They are ISPs, Internet Service Providers. The carriers want to deliver that to you wirelessly so that they don’t have to run fiber to every home. Fiber to the home is a very long payback, but if they can get you 10Gbps wirelessly using mmwave, then they can effectively shut out the cable companies for all of you that would rather watch Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime instead of whatever the local channels have real-time. It’s all about new business cases that will destroy old business models.
The Chinese will win the 5G race!
Again, who cares. The Chinese won’t make much money doing it whereas Europe, US and Canada will make a ton of money. The race has already been won, congratulations to South Korea, Japan, England, and France along with the US and China. Give Sweden and Turkey credit, they have 5G systems. To be honest, if you’re working in the industry, you really don’t care, you just want to deploy more LTE and 5G. It’s all about getting it done right and then making sure the business cases stand up to make money. Get it? If the US and Chinese carrier stood around worrying about crap like that, they would just release anything and hope that it works. In other words, it would be crap!
Why can’t I have 5G today?
- It’s brand new! While you heard about it for the past year, it’s just been released.
- There are limited 5G devices.
- 5G coverage is very limited, pretty much larger cities in the US.
- It will take time to upgrade.
- What do you want it for? On your smartphone or in your home?
- There is very limited spectrum and private 5G NR in nonexistent in the US, mostly thanks to the FCC not allocating any spectrum.
- Again, it’s brand new and the standards were literally just passed for the initial release.
Will 5G be banned anywhere?
I hope not, but there are large groups of unintelligent people out there that will say that it’s bad. You know, the same people who think cell phones and TV were created by the devil. Before you write this off, let me recall some history.
- Salem witch trials.
- From https://www.policeone.com/police-humor/articles/231265006-50-dumb-laws-in-America/
- Persons convicted of felonies may not operate Bingo games. Pennsylvania law.
- One may be jailed for wearing a hat while dancing, or even for wearing a hat to a function where dancing is taking place. Law in North Dakota.
- All motorists must honk before passing another car, bicyclist, skater, and even a skateboarder. New Jersey Law.
- Hitting a vending machine that stole your money is illegal. Kansas law.
- Coins are not allowed to be placed in one’s ears. Hawaii law.
- Credit – https://list25.com/25-stupid-government-regulations-that-will-make-you-shake-your-head/
- Florida (uh, accidentally) banned all computers and smartphones in cafes. There’s a problem in Florida with internet cafes basically being digital slot machines for old people to pour their money into. In an attempt to curb these questionable businesses, the state government passed a bill banning all internet cafes (this was great for students and people without computers, thanks), and because of the way the bill was worded, it banned any internet connected device in a cafe. Um, if you’re ever in a position to pass a law, anywhere, please read it thoroughly. Twice.
- It’s a federal crime to consult with a known Pirate. A person is known to be a pirate, not necessarily a person in the act of pirating.
OK, I think you get the idea.
Because of 5G, the government will put a tower in my backyard!
This is not always the question, sometimes people say, “there will be towers everywhere” or “base stations will be everywhere”. I hear this a lot. The truth is, you would love to have a tower in your backyard because the carrier would pay you to be there. You would collect rent. I would love it getting extra money and maybe free service.
However, there is the “NIMBY” attitude which stands for Not In My Back Yard. These groups don’t want towers in their communities. At least not obvious towers. Stealth is OK and hidden sites are OK.
First, a quick story. There are a lot of town meetings where people protest towers. In one meeting, the local people blocked the tower and they won. Once they got outside they all called on their smartphone to brag about their win. Then, in earshot of all of us, one guy said, “the coverage here sucks, they should do something about that!”. Yes, the coverage here sucks, we blocked a tower from coming in, yet “they” should do something about that.
Anyway, I digress. The thing is, 5G needs new spectrum to reach its true potential. So the FCC has released mmwave in the US. With mmwave, the coverage is very short. So we will need more towers. Not only that but to get the penetration needed, even with the existing spectrum, smaller cells are needed. And finally, loading is heavier than it ever was, so to maximize loading and get the full spectrum reuse possible, small cells are needed.
The carriers are using small cells, oDAS, CRAN, DRAN, and other solutions to get the sites as close to the public as possible. They mount antennas on telephone poles, lamp posts, rooftops, and so on. In fact, many people buy in home repeaters, but eventually, the carriers can put repeaters in your home as they add fixed wireless internet access. Where did they get this idea? From Comcast of course.
Do you remember when Comcast gave out wireless cable modems to their customers? I have one. When they did they made each one a hotspot. So if you live in a city, suddenly they have the “Xfinity” ESSID popping up everywhere. I think it was brilliant. People complained, but people complain regardless. I personally think it was a good idea because the hotspot was outside of the customer’s network. So there will be sites everywhere.
By the way, do you have Wi-Fi in your home? You already have RF flooding your home. Granted it’s either 5.8GHz or 2.4GHz or both, but it’s already there. Next time you complain about smartphone coverage in your home, you may want a tower right outside your home.
5G is ugly!
OK, this is not 5G, but people are complaining about the poles out there that have BTS on them that look ugly. While this is easy to blame the carriers, (what were they thinking?), but the municipalities need to set clear expectations when the site goes through the permitting process. The accountability runs through both the carrier and the municipality.
Why? Because the municipality has a permitting process that should set the expectations of how sites should look when they’re built. Now, there have been deployments that go in ROW areas, Right Of Way. These are areas where there is no permitting and the installer does what they want, not what the municipality requires. This was common years ago when the telephone companies had to quickly install wood poles. They were given permission to put them anywhere. When certain companies found this out they exploited the loophole. They had success until word got out and municipalities put a stop to it.
Oh, this isn’t 5G that’s ugly, it’s any poor installation.
Sometimes it’s easy and cheap to just throw stuff up on a pole. However, there are smart poles and very clean installations that look impressive. I have to give Crown Castle a lot of credit for being at the forefront of this. They spent a lot of time researching what people wanted at the site. They went beyond making it look nice, that was a given. They also made sure the sound level was very low, that it was easy to work on, work would only be done during certain hours of the day, and all the details. I was impressed by the detail they put into installations prior to mass roll out.
And now for part 2!
The 5G Overview
To be honest, most people don’t even know what 5G is. They think it’s something so new that it’s going to be something so different. Here is the thing, it’s just a new generation of communications. Seriously, that’s all it is. Notice I said a new generation of communications, not wireless communications. That is the distinction. The truth is that 4G, which is LTE, will continue to grow and evolve. It is not done yet and it won’t be done for quite some time. In fact, it will be incorporated into 5G networks in a way that 4G used 3G in its networks. Let’s look at 4G real quick. It is LTE, which stood for Long Term Evolution. I think that name is funny because it’s been less than 10 years. I know, in tech terms, 10 years is a long time, but LTE has evolved so much in that time that I thought it would sustain longer. Well, it’s going to continue to evolve, but the need for something new stronger than anyone anticipated. Why did we outgrow LTE so quickly? Well, we wanted more than the standard would allow us to do. In fact, the existing spectrum can’t allow us to grow the way we want to. You see, LTE has allowed gigabits to pass through the wireless interface. It has brought IP right to the device instead of having proprietary communications happen over the last mile. It was a great improvement over 3G which could have been CDMA or GSM, depending on which system you bought. It still wasn’t enough. We wanted more. It had less than 20 ms latency, not fast enough. It could do 1 Gbps, under ideal conditions, not enough. It could aggregate many carriers so they looked like one big pipe. The current limitation is a 20MHz carrier and they can do, in the real world, up to 3 carriers. It was supposed to be six, I didn’t see that yet. Yet, not enough. LTE was a great leap in evolution over 3G. Oh, and now the wireless systems are all LTE with IP backhaul. No more T1s or DS3s. No more various backhaul systems. Now it’s all IP front to end. It is a huge leap. Yet, we wanted more, more of all of it. Yes, 5G is going to use 5G NR for the wireless portion. It is not going to have different formats. Also, IP end to end, beginning to end, all the way to the device. Now, 5G standards are asking for more requirements on the network. It’s going to look beyond the wireless standard, beyond the BTS, all the way across the network. We will see new terms, that are being adopted, and sold, to the carriers. Eventually, private networks will be using these services. Just like when we didn’t understand the HetNet, where multiple technologies, bands, devices, and networks could all work together as one. The Heterogenous Network, a hybrid really. You see, 5G is doing that as well, on it’s going farther with the standards. How? Well, let’s look at what’s being looked at and added to the standard. Also, what is going to be part of the network?
- Network Slicing – you’ve heard about this, read about this, and honestly, it sounds really cool. They figured out that to make the network from the end user to the other end the most efficient, they should segregate the traffic. That means that all the small packets should be in one slice and all the larger packets should be in another slice. However, while many will say that size matters, it more about the application of the packet that matters. The application, function, and size all matter. As does latency requirements. It’s sliced and diced in such a way that the network becomes very efficient for each and function. WOW! That is really cool! It all depends on the SLA for that particular application and how they are all grouped together in that particular slice.
- Wireless Interface – this is the last mile, well, with mmwave it may be the last few hundred feet. This is hard for the RF guys to swallow because RF used to be all about coverage and penetration. If you look at mmwave, it has neither quality. It is all about the bandwidth. Beyond that, the new radios are call 5G NR developed by Qualcomm, who will make billions off the patents. NR stands for “New Radio”, literally. Not very creative, but it’s the accepted term. The new format has a lot of requirements which I will list below.
- New spectrum – we needed to new spectrum because we needed more bandwidth and low latency. That’s why the mmwave became so valuable. The only Us carrier that could have made 5G work close to the standard in the USA was Sprint because they have over 100MHz of the 2.5GHz spectrum, TDD, across most of the USA. That is the beachfront spectrum in today’s world. Penetration and 100MHz. However, compared with mmwave, it’s still not enough. Think about the other carriers which have 5, 10, or 20 MHz carriers of FDD spectrum. That was prime in 3G, it’s looked down on in 5G. Now that new mmwave spectrum is being released, we can realize some 5G requirements.
- New network functions – while 4G used MEC (Mobile Edge Computing) and SDN (Software Defined Networking), we are going to need them in 5G to make the requirements work. Requirements will be listed soon, just relax. The idea though, with SDN and MEC is to improve network efficiency and lower latency.
- The EDGE – I mentioned this earlier, but the Edge is not new, but with 5G to make the low latency claims, it will be necessary. The Edge is a data center very close to the end user, it may be at the BTS site or very close. It is basically moving the applications from the cloud closer to the end user. It will also allow traffic to be dumped off before going to the core. Thus, lessening internet traffic through the core. It’s going to be very efficient.
- Larger carriers – the 4G carrier, max that I know if, is 20MHz whereas the 5G carrier max, today, is 100MHz.
- Enhanced aggregation – The current 4G aggregation that I’ve seen is 3 20MHz carriers. I believe the requirement states it should be up to 6 20MHz carriers. For 5G, the expectation is up to eight 100MHz carriers, as of today. I believe that is in release 16, but I need to verify.
- Virtualization – what this means is that the traditional way of running a BTS should be moved from the tower and inward across the network. Say, the edge and the cloud. The BBU functions need to be virtualized. Knowing how BTS work, this is very hard. That’s why I always talk about CRAN and DRAN. Now we’ll have C-RAN. RAN – Radio Access Network, basically the BTS, small cell, or mini macro RF units. CRAN is a concentrated RAN which means the BBUs are all located at a central location and fed to the radio heads through some kind of fiber mux so that at the tower, pole, or rooftop over a community so that each site has fiber feeding a mux and locally, a power supply and fiber are feeding the radios heads for each sector. DRAN is a distributed RAN meaning that most of the BBUs will be at the same location, think of a stadium where the BBUs will be in a large data room, and dedicated fiber will feed all the radio heads all over the stadium. Then there is C-RAN or cRAN, which is Cloud Ran and that means that some of the BBU functions could be done in the cloud or edge but you still need a kick-ass fiber fronthaul feeding the radio head all over the municipality or town. FYI – you still need GPS at all sites to synchronize the timing.
What are the 5G requirements? These are what the standards are trying to meet. This is a very high level, so take it for what it is worth.
- Enhanced Mobile Broadband – this basically is a lot of throughputs. When I say a lot, I don’t mean 1Gbps, I mean up to 20Gbps. That’s why we needed a new spectrum because what we have today below 6GHz is not going to cut it. We needed mmwave. We need a lot more spectrum to aggregate data through.
- URLLC – Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications – this should be a game changer because the spec, as I read it, expects 1ms or less of latency, round trip, across the wireless interface. To be honest, I don’t think anyone is doing that in the real world today, I am thinking they got to 4 ms. We expect that to improve quickly. Also, it’s supposed to be Ultra Reliable, meaning that packets should not drop often. I am trying to figure out how that is being attained and all I can come up with is that it’s because the latency is so low that if a packet needs to be retransmitted, it has plenty of time to do so. Oh, by the way, this requirement is for the end user data only, the control data may still be slower since it may or may not pass over the air.
- Massive connectivity – this means that a crap ton of devices can be connected to the 5G network. This is more or less for IOT devices, but I don’t see any numbers associated. It is also about coverage. The expectation is that 5G coverage will be everywhere. Also, how is this a 5G only expectation? I don’t get this requirement except that they expect networks to be everywhere. Carriers don’t even want to contribute to DAS systems in most buildings, yet, they are signing up for coverage everywhere that can carry everything. Does this make sense to you? By the way, at the time of this writing, my sister has unreliable coverage on her farm in central Pennsylvania. FYI – only Verizon works there, so where the hell are the other three carriers? Your guess is as good as mine. I really don’t get how this requirement is a 5G requirement when IOT will work over anything, not just 5G.
This was a quick overview and just something to help guide you. I hope it helps and you enjoyed it.
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