5G Drivers for the Technology

A familiar question - why is 4G not good enough? 5G has 3 (potential) impovements over the 4G network namely more capacity, faster communications and lower latency. With some or all of these features many more applications become possible. There are 3 significantly different use-cases for 5G that lead to the 5 applications described below that will require 5G technology.

  • Massive numbers of connections allowing millions if not billions of IoT devices to be connected (mMTC)
  • Ultra fast communications, albeit not large amounts of data. Use of communications in real-time control and real-time applications. (uRLLC)
  • Enhanced mobile broadband. (eMBB)

  1. Video / TV Initially a simple demand, let's have high definition TV rather than standard TV and while we are there ensure that a feature film, in high definition, can be downloaded in a short time for off-line viewing. A fast network such as 5G will be able to deliver on these requirements in a way that current delivery mechanisms such as Satellite and OTA cannot. So it is likely that much of this video or TV demand will move to online and mobile. This can also feed different subscription models, such as the Netflix model, or paying for prime viewing as Sky supports. In fact, an intelligent advert driven model will be more adaptive to the user than the current model. Another feature of 5G is the move of services away from the core, so suppliers could stream a single copy of live TV or cache a video nearer to the user thus freeing up the network.
  2. IoT, Connected Homes and Smart Cities. There are many devices on the market that will add some smartness to the home, including remote heating control and security. Many of these devices work by themselves and there are few systems that link this all together to produce a totally connected home. 5G will aid the connection of these devices and link in with other devices that are only just coming on the market, smart white goods is an example. The next stage is to link all this together for localities and then cities creating Smart Cities. To achieve this a large re-design of smart systems are needed supported by a fast mobile network. But what about fitness and healthcare? Again remote monitoring of an individual for fitness or health reasons has major benefits for society and with a significant proportion of the population being monitored an better network is needed.
  3. Improved Broadband Most of the UK is connected to the Internet via copper wires, FTTC, with a limit of around 76Mbps. To make a major change to this via fixed wire will require FTTP, and a large investment involving putting fibre in roads or pavements to all UK households. But this (may) only solve the static solution. Many people require broadband on the move be that moving to different static locations, walking through an urban environment, driving up the motorways or travelling by train or bus. A higher speed and capacity broadband will enhance the mobile broadband experience of many allowing working on the move or indeed anywhere / anytime. A better mobile broadband would enable this as well as replacing the FTTC broadband of today - this is the solution envisioned by THREE; use 5G to provide everyone with mobile broadband and thus replacing home broadband. A speed of 1Gbps is likely with 5G, a figure similar to that quoted for FTTP, with the ability to deliver at a fraction of the cost.
  4. Real-time control Driverless cars have been a vision for years. As well as the technology within the vehicle, it would have to communicate with the environment to produce a fully workable driverless car. Some data would be needed real-time and as such a network with litle to no lag is important. Even if the top aim of driverless cars cannot be achieved soon, more autonomous actions will be built into cars and other vehicles again requiring a real-time network.
    Scary as it may sound, virtual critical medical operations are also possible at a distance via a reliable real-time 5G network with the surgeon manipulating the equipment and viewing the results on a screen. Currently some very delicate operations require the surgeon to work with equipment doing the actual surgery. A human does not have the delicacy of touch that the machine has. And because it is delicate the surgeon will view the surgery on a screen. It is only a small step from this to remote surgery.
  5. VR - Virtual Reality Virtual Reality can enhance a film experience (let's do away with 3D glasses), can make computer games all the more encompassing. They can add to the experience at sports or music venues with the ability to see things that are not in eyesight, or repeat the "good bits". At a football match you only see a goal once, you see it time and again analysed on TV and VAR could have a whole new meaning with everyone having VR. In cricket they use technology to re-look at a wicket or other significant event. Again this can be carried out through VR or augmented reality. A high capacity network would be required to achieve this and 5G would be a contender.