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Guest Article: From 4G to 5G mobile networks: A natural progression

5G delivers low latency advantages for any application from playing a video game to controlling a robot remotely.
  • Last Update:2022-05-06
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Posted on December 8, 2021 by Jean-Paul Smets, founder, Rapid.Space 

5G delivers low latency advantages for any application from playing a video game to controlling a robot remotely.

The awkward pause while you wait for the other person to reply is a problem that anyone who has used a video call service has faced at some point. This is referred to as latency, the end-to-end communication delay where the time between the sent information and the corresponding response is measured. The most common perception with 5G technology is that it will dramatically increase bandwidth (data speed). However, in reality, the reduction of latency will have a more significant impact. The development of 5G-based mobile networks opens up several possibilities mainly revolving around remote-working, where a rapid response is essential.

Interestingly, 4G and 5G are more or less the same – they have the same frequency and way of encoding information into a radio signal. The only difference with 4G communication is the time slots between receiving and corresponding information are cut into increments of 0.01 seconds, whereas the slots for 5G are ten times smaller (0.001 seconds).

Let’s examine key areas where low-latency 5G networks will be very effective.

Remote workers & remote-controlled workers

Suppose there is a New Yorker who manages a factory based in Chicago, and they encounter a problem, but there is no one available to fix it on-location. A low-latency 5G network could allow them to use a factory robot in real-time, remotely. There must be no lag for these robot applications in a factory setting. The same is true in a medical facility where an operation is being conducted.

Traditionally, 4G networks have been very inefficient in the way in which the signals travel. In the scenario mentioned above, if the robot was being controlled locally, the signal could travel from the factory to the network headquarters before being sent back to the robot. The problem here is that a few milliseconds are lost, but a local 5G network would significantly reduce this latency, enabling real-time communications in industrial applications.

Low-latency networks also allow improvements in advanced communication tools so that companies can move beyond just webinars and video conferencing. Augmented and virtual reality solutions can enable more creative and personal remote meetings, but they would be challenging to implement without the reduced latency provided by 5G.

Create your very own telecommunications

The development of low-latency networks allows for the possibility of setting up a base station from just an Intel CPU and an Analog Devices chip, and consequently, a 5G network on a person’s very own broadband radio spectrum. However, creating a private network depends on the regulations of the region. In Germany, you have to pay a fee, but it is still possible, whereas in the U.S., the FCC controls the frequencies, and it is more complicated.

The beauty of having your own network is that it isn’t reliant on a company – a cable being cut or a blackout on one of the larger networks doesn’t affect the signal. As mentioned above, this is crucial for delicate operations like remote-controlled surgeries and even for drone pilots who are required to take control of fully automated commercial aircrafts on landing.

A versatile regional solution with infinite applications

 To convert from a 4G to 5G signal, the software configuration has to be updated, not the machine or device, and then tested to ensure the bugs are fixed. As long as companies use modern technology such as a virtual radio access network (VRAN), then adapting to 5G shouldn’t be too difficult.

In addition to software configuration, sufficient antennas need to be added to handle the surge of users using a 5G signal for large networks. Countries that have recently developed their telecommunications infrastructure, such as Thailand, can implement a software update to get everything switched over to 5G relatively quickly compared to countries with older systems.

 The main advantage of 5G for services that need low latency is that it eliminates lag for any application, whether it is something as trivial as playing a video game or as intricate as controlling a robot remotely.

The transition from 4G to 5G should not be feared, as it is natural progression. It is comparable to how the internet has moved on in terms of IP addresses. When initially connecting to the internet, an IP address with four numbers was assigned every device, leading to a maximum of four billion connected devices. But we have reached the point where there are more connected devices than humans. IPv6 was introduced to extend IPv4 with trillions of billions of additional addresses, allowing infinitely more users. The switch from 4G to 5G permits the same thing on radio networks.

About the author

Jean-Paul Smets, founder Rapid.Space Jean-Paul Smets is the founder of Rapid.Space, a hyper-open cloud provider, based on open-source, open hardware, and open service.

Original link: From 4G to 5G mobile networks: A natural progression (Electronic Products)