Faster, Further, Better: 5G Will Become Communication Standard

Industry, and indeed our society as a whole, is becoming increasingly networked. Consequently, we are generating massive volumes of data that need to be transmitted and processed. In the long run, existing wireless mobile telecommunications standards such as 3G and LTE will no longer be able to cope. But there’s a new kid on the block about ready to launch called 5G. This new communications standard promises the fastest response time and extremely high bandwidths.

5G – Key Benefits

In the future, 5G will be able to transmit more data a lot faster – one hundred times faster than 4G, to be more precise. That is almost in real time - at least for shorter distances. This is thanks to the short latency, which is equally important for the reliability of the transmission network. The 5G network delivers a response time of only one millisecond. In comparison - for 4G the response time is 30 milliseconds and for 3G approx. 100 milliseconds. Very soon, this will be used for virtual and augmented reality applications. Other possible applications include training of new employees for production processes or the display of additional information for surgeons during surgery. In particular, autonomous driving requires high data transfer rates for speed and reliability. 5G offers the solution. And very important, in light of surging energy requirements for IT infrastructures in modern societies, is that with 5G, energy consumption per transferred bit drops to 1/1000 of the current usage.

To summarize, 5G benefits three key areas:

1. Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB): the high bandwidth mainly supports applications for private users. It is required where there is a high concentration of users or for high-definition video streaming for example.

2. Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC) is mainly used to network as many devices as possible across a long range. This is particularly interesting for industry, and thus naturally also for Würth Elektronik.

3. Ultra-Reliable and Low-Latency Communication (uRLLC) is geared towards security-critical applications. These include production-control and, as already mentioned, autonomous driving. These applications require low-latency, high availability and extremely reliable connections.

How Advanced is the 5G Expansion?

The 5G network development progress is very different from country to country and region to region. In Germany, the battle of companies bidding for frequencies was only just decided upon in recent weeks. The public 5G network will now be launched in Berlin and Bonn. In Estonia and Finland, customers are apparently already being offered 5G contracts (even though the network is not yet in operation) and Japan is also expediting its network expansion. The current undisputed frontrunners are the USA and South Korea. Here, the first public 5G networks went live in early April 2019, among other in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis and in Seoul.

What Applications Are There For The 5G Network?

Private users expect two benefits from 5G – fast mobile internet with availability for streaming videos in real time. Whether this will happen remains to be seen. There is only a limited range of free frequencies. In Germany for example, frequencies that would enable nationwide 5G-coverage will only become available in 2025. Moreover, as the frequency required for the high data-transfer-rate for 5G increases, the actual range drops. High-performance 5G that can transfer 10 GB/s or even more requires a close network of mini radio masts that can only be realized in urbanized areas. Japan is therefore allowing its network operators to use 200,000 traffic lights for 5G radio station installations.

However, professional applications such as Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC) are the real target markets for 5G. With 5G, up to one million devices per square kilometer are expected to be networked. Industrial IoT, M2M Communication, Industry 4.0 – they all are based on a rapidly increasing number of networked machines and devices that make a high-performing network necessary. How great for those therefore who will be able to access a ubiquitous 5G network with low energy consumption?

The Smart Factory – A Dream Within Reach?

Just imagine a highly automated factory with driverless transportation systems, automated quality-control and robots that load machines and autonomously place material orders. In short, a factory where production and logistics are completely managed by themselves.

For this concept to work, high-performance wireless technology such as 5G is essential. For sensors and actuators to be connected and synchronized, reliable data connections are necessary. They are also required to enable shortest response times possible to rectify faults during production as they occur and preferably in real-time. In critical situations, a maximum latency time of one millisecond could ultimately tip the scales.

At Würth Elektronik we are very involved with the subject as part of our SMART5 digitalization concept. You can find further information here.

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