Delivering true 5G: are we ready?
It’s already been an exciting year for 5G technology, as we finally move the needle on commercial deployments and early adoption of new use cases. We discussed with Ciena’s Joe Marsella how mobile and wholesale network operators are gearing up to capitalize on the benefits and opportunities of 5G – and how technologies such as Network Slicing will play a key role.
By Joe Marsella – What many may not realize is that 5G will initially leverage 4G and coexist with it for many years to come, rather than immediately obsolete it. Consumers will have plenty of time to swap out their 4G-enabled devices for 5G-capable ones with the pace of change largely dictated by how attractive the new 5G enable apps and monthly plans will be. However, we simply can’t discount the amazing network performance that 5G will provide.
We’ve already witnessed 5G New Radios (NR) providing impressive wireless performance gains, even while connected to the existing 4G Evolved Packet Core (EPC) in what’s referred to as 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) mode. This configuration supports early enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) applications such as HD video streaming. The next evolution of 5G performance will be driven by 5G Stand-Alone (SA) mode, where 5G NRs are connect to a 5G Core alongside Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) to support massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC) and ultra-reliable Low-Latency Communications (urLLC). These latter two uses cases will enable a wide range of new applications for telemedicine, industrial automation, self-driving vehicles, and public safety among others.
Operators globally have been focused on 5G rollouts in densely populated metro areas in an effort to offer the base solution to their masses of customers as quickly as possible. It always comes down to bandwidth – and more of it! And, numerous city centers are on the brink of 5G transformation. In the future, we’ll see metro areas morph into Smart Cities, adopt driverless vehicles, embrace tech-powered emergency responder services, and fuel hubs for new innovation centers and businesses.
On the other hand, the outlook in rural areas – with lower end-user densities – will lag metro 5G rollouts. While government entities have taken steps in the right direction to help close the digital divide by offering funding to deliver high-speed bandwidth service to rural communities, there’s still a long way to go. more>
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