Preparations for 5G continue and the recent Vodafone and Huawei test of 5G, confirms that the UK is on track to get its share of the 1.5 billion devices online, which are expected to be connected to mobile networks by 2020.
Today, various frequency bands below 3GHz are used to provide smartphones with access to the internet and this spectrum was chosen as it works best for providing coverage over large areas.
However the amount of bandwidth and resource is limited to 20MHz and this simply will not give enough capacity, as more and more people and technologies connect to the internet, over the air.
|The Internet of Things|
In order to find more bandwidth, the mobile phone networks are assessing bands above 24GHz, as identified by the World Radio Congress. These bands will deliver 5G and have the high data rates that will be required to meet the demands of the future.
One of the bands that is under assessment is the 70GHz frequency. Here, the antennas can be built to enable the radio signal to be ‘steered’ or ‘beam-formed’ towards the device, with high levels of precision.
|5G mobile phones|
Using this system, objects near to the receiver, such as a wall, can reflect a second beam to the device, so that the device receives more than one connection to the internet. This technology is called MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output).
Using this method, range, capacity and performance are all improved. However, using a higher frequency has challenges. It is less capable of penetrating obstructions, like buildings, and needs to be able to track accurately the location of a device, that may be moving quickly.
The 5G field test with Huawei at Vodafone’s head office in Newbury demonstrated the feasibility of a trial system, working at 70GHz. During the test data speeds of over 20Gbps (Gigabits per second), supporting multiple users receiving 10Gbps each, were successfully achieved.
These early tests are essential and will lead to 5G spectrum harmonszation. At the next World Radio Congress the technologies that will be used to provide 5G will be decided and for the consumer, this means that there will be a continuity of 5G services across the world.
Written by: Michael Brown