Deployment of 5G

Source: By Aashish Aryan: The Indian Express

Reliance Industries CMD Mukesh Ambani announced that the company’s telecom venture Jio has designed and developed from scratch, a complete indigenous 5G solution ready for deployment. The announcement, made at the company’s Annual General Meeting, will enable Jio to export 5G solutions to other telecom players globally, Ambani said.

Companies, both telecom service providers and their equipment vendors, have completed lab trials of 5G network components but are yet to commence field trials, which were initially scheduled to happen last year. For the same, telecom companies are awaiting allocation of test spectrum from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The service providers have already tied up with equipment makers like Nokia, Ericsson, etc for deploying their 5G networks.

Jio is said to have a complete end-to-end 5G solution prepared by the company itself that is ready for deployment once the networks are in place. This solution can also be deployed by other telecom operators as a complete managed service. When Reliance announced investment by American chipmaker Qualcomm into Jio, it had said that the investment will deepen the ties between Qualcomm and Jio Platforms, “to support Jio Platforms on its journey to rollout advanced 5G infrastructure and services for Indian customers”. Additionally, with Google’s partnership, Jio plans to develop affordable smartphones using an optimised Android-based operating system. Experts’ peg that developing an Android 5G app ecosystem focused on emerging markets would also be an area of focus for Google from a medium-term perspective.

5G or fifth generation is the latest upgrade in the long term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks. The first generation of networks allowed only mobile voice calls to be made, while the second generation allowed mobile voice calls as well as sending of short text messages. It was the third generation or 3G network which allowed web browsing on mobile devices, the speed and latency of which improved with fourth generation or 4G networks. The 5G networks will have even faster speeds with latency down to between 1-10 milliseconds. Latency is the time a device takes to communicate with the network, which stands at an average of up to 50 milliseconds for 4G networks across the world.

All 5G networks chiefly operate on three spectrum bands. The low-band spectrum has been proven to have great coverage and works fast even in underground conditions. However, the maximum speed limit on this band is 100 Mbps (Megabits per second). In the mid-band spectrum, though the speeds are higher, telcos across the world have registered limitations when it comes to coverage area and penetration of telephone signals into buildings. The high-band spectrum offers the highest speed but has extremely limited network coverage area and penetration capabilities. The telcos using this band rely on the existing LTE networks and will need to install a number of smaller towers to ensure adequate coverage and high-speed performance.

Globally, companies like AT&T, T-mobile, and Verizon have been deploying 5G networks across their service areas. While AT&T had started rolling out the service as early as 2018, other providers in the US have caught up and are starting to provide limited services on a test case basis to customers. Not only the network, the devices will also have to be 5G ready for customers to be able to enjoy maximum benefits of the latest upgrade in mobile broadband. One of the major improvements in 5G is the use of beam tracking to follow all devices on the network to ensure consistent connection in real-time for the device. 5G networks are also designed to multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) efficient which improves signal throughput for all devices on the network.