5G, the fifth generation of wireless networks is currently the biggest area for research and development in the telecommunication world. It’s not just about the data rate that we are moving from 4G to 5G, but 5G will be more energy as well as spectrum efficient than 4G. It is estimated to handle 1000 times more traffic than the present network and will have 10 times more data rate than with an end to end latency of 1ms.
There are some brand new technologies which are predicted to serve as the base for 5G, which will give 5G its unique features. These include technologies such as Millimeter waves, Small Cell Towers, Massive MIMO, Beam forming and Full Duplex communication (incorporated in 5G).
Millimeter waves: The radio spectrum, we use for connecting our smartphones or any other electronic devices to the network is generally below or around 6GHz in frequency so limited frequency band allows limited number of devices to be connected to the network but millimetre waves use the spectrum from 30GHz to 300 GHz, thus providing space for a large number of devices to be connected to the network at a particular time.
But these waves being very high frequency waves, are blocked by buildings and are absorbed by rain and trees etc. So, to compensate this, we will use Small Cell Towers.
Small Cell Towers: Thousands of low power mini base stations much closer than the traditional towers will be installed that will form a sort of relay to transmit signals around the obstacles. This will especially be useful for users in cities. These towers will allow the user to switch to some other base station which is in better range to his device so that he can remain connected in spite of the innumerable trees or buildings or others obstacles in his way.
Massive MIMO: These MIMOs are far ahead of conventional MIMOs in terms of capacity. They inculcate an antenna array with few hundred antennas serving 10s of terminals in same frequency resource. These extra antennas are used to focus the energy in smaller regions of space and thus, bring huge improvement in throughput and radiated energy efficiency. These are estimated to increase the network’s capacity by a factor of 22 or more. Since a large number of MIMO base stations will be radiating at the same time, so, this will produce large amount of interference.
Beamforming: The large amount of interference produced by the MIMO antennas will be compensated by Beam forming technique. Here, instead of transmitting in all the directions, the data is transmitted only in the directions where the signal reaches the actual intended terminals. Hence, making the 5G network, very energy efficient. It keeps track of the timing and direction of arrival of the signals. This is done to recognize the exact location from where the signal is transmitted.
Full Duplex: The 5G network is estimated to be full duplex that is, it will facilitate both uplink and downlink communication between two communicating devices at the same frequency simultaneously with negligible interference. It is another way of doubling the speed of wireless communication and enhancing the spectral efficiency.