5G Networks Briefing Paper
With today’s 4G network, infrastructure internet providers are quickly realizing that 4G networks are not equip to handle the increase in mobile data traffic. By 2020, the projected mobile traffic will be too great for 4G networks to support. To resolve this issue providers and consumers will need to make the shift to 5G networks. 5G offers three main advantages over its predecessor. Firstly, the wireless network is set to offer between 10 and 20GBPS data download speed. Secondly, it offers low latency of less than a millisecond which is crucial for applications that need to be updated in real-time. Lastly, the technology makes use of millimeter radio waves for transmission. This means it can provide higher bandwidth over current LTE networks and is capable of much higher data rates. 5G networks will be able to offer secure access to cloud storage, the ability to run enterprise applications, and the power to run more complex tasks virtually. 5G will also offer the possibility of 100x more device connections than 4G LTE. 5G may also offer a 90% reduction in energy consumption over 4G, while simultaneously offering internet speed currently only capable of being achieved through a direct network connection via a fiber optic cable.
5G is poised to transform the world of IoT devices. Many cellular vendors are set to release smartphones and other devices capable of connecting to 5G networks by the end of 2018 and through into early 2019. Currently, organizations such as AT&T have released 5G Evolution which is a step up from 4G LTE but, does not provide the full range of capabilities 5G will.
Much the same as current cellular networks, 5G divides a territory into small sectors in which devices connect to cell sites. These cell sites are then able to transmit encrypted data through the use of radio waves. 5G is different than its predecessor because it can transmit these radio waves at much higher frequencies, currently only capable by Wi-Fi networks. These radio waves will not affect Wi-Fi networks. This minimal disruption has already seen real world application as Sprint released a similar feature with their LAA technology. In the millimeter wave spectrum these frequencies are between 30 and 300 GHz
5G networks are much more likely to be used with smaller cell sites. There will be less need for large network towers since the network will be broken down across multiple sites. This also means that the speed on the individual networks will be greater than before. The reason the network has to be broken down into smaller cell sites is due to the high frequency radio waves being used. Higher frequency radio waves are only capable of travelling shorter distances than lower frequency 4G LTE waves.
An article written by three university professors from the University of Waterloo, Carleton University and Ozyegin University explains that the vision for 5G networks could be set to completely transform the current cellular architecture. They explain that in order for 5G to function with such a high demand of network bandwidth from IoT devices, the traditional cellular architecture may be divided into a two tier architecture. The two tiers of this infrastructure are a macrocell layer (for base station-to-device communication) as well as a device layer (for device to device communication). This can pose huge concern with regard to security as direct device to device (D2D) communication requires a more complex network security than is currently available. D2D communication is possible through the use of device relaying. This is where connected devices can use one another to transmit data creating an ad Hoc mesh network. The devices can communicate in a licensed cellular bandwidth without the use of a base station (BS). This capability is a dramatic shift from the conventional cellular architecture. D2D communication has previously been used at a very minimal level. Its current functionality has been its effect in reducing cost of local service provisioning. Recently, demand for such a capability has grown for D2D communication as more context aware applications come to market. These applications generally require both location services as well as communication with other devices. Providing this through D2D would be much more cost effective as not all devices on the network have to be connected through the BS. D2D can also serve a role in mobile cloud computing and effective sharing of resources. If a device is at the edge of a cell site or in a crowded area, D2D could eliminate a significant resource burden on the BS.
Several telecom venders in the U.S. have begun developing and testing their 5G networks. Organizations such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, have all made strides in this field and have individual research projects underway to test the networks. Verizon has said it will have 5G networks in three to five markets by the end of the year (2018). AT&T has stated it will have its first generation of 5G in a dozen cities by the end of this year, where this first generation will be made available to users through hotspot devices. Sprint and T-Mobile have also targeted releases in the beginning of early 2019. In Canada none of the major telecom vendors have unveiled their plans for 5G networks. Telus has mentioned that the technology should be commercially available by the year 2020. This however is the most specific statement any Canadian telecom provider has made.
Canadian Government Use
On March 19, 2018 the GC announced its investment in the 5G test corridor between Quebec and Ontario. The investment in ENCQOR represents a step in the adoption of the next generation of wireless technology. The GC is partnering with several private industry partners and demonstrates an important example of collaboration among all stakeholders. 5G will demand a huge infrastructure overhaul which must be accounted for. CWTA has launched the 5G Canada Council in an effort to promote supportive collaboration as Canada establishes this new 5G ecosystem. The technology is still set to release by 2020. The GC will still need to address how it will support radio frequencies between 600 and 3500 MHz which are required for 5G networks. This range of frequencies is crucial as 600 MHz is one of the highest frequencies still able to reach individuals in more rural and remote regions of the country.
Implications for Departments
The largest impact 5G networks will have on SSC is in its datacenters. 5G promises to support higher network traffic at greater speeds with lower latency. It also means that applications will begin being designed to use 5G networks. The shift to 5G will still require data centers to perform many of the same tasks except on a much larger scale. Datacenters will require an increase in processing power and storage. Datacenters will also need to shift from decentralized mobile networks where processing is done at the edge of the network. A more centralized model of processing capacity is needed in this scenario. 5G will also transform the traditional cellular architecture. Having a two tier architecture as explained in the technological brief requires heightened security. This is because using devices to connect to each other in order to establish a network connection means there isn’t only one central base station to protect. Now, the provider will have to also focus on protecting against the devices that establish the connections themselves. Security will be a vital concern for SSC moving into the 5G era as IoT devices will all be connected. This increased number of IoT devices brings forth a high amount of network traffic. Companies like Cisco and Ericsson have begun using software-defined-networks (SDNs) and network functions visualization (NFV) as they are more flexible and can dynamically support a growing number of devices. SDNs decouples the hardware from the software, meaning tasks can be performed on the cloud or in clusters of servers. NFVs which are usually used in combination with SDNs, shift network functions from being hardware specific to being able to run in virtual machines. These are viable options for SSC moving forward as the department migrates to the cloud while entering the 5G era.
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