Technology: Main 5G application scenarios

Computer screen showing coding
Image: Danny Meneses/Pexels

5G networks provide much greater bandwidth compared to previous generations of networks. This can be useful for companies requiring high-speed and scalable network access. If you are considering using a private 5G network for your business, this article can provide new insights into the relevance of using such technology in your industry.

What Is 5G

5G is a new generation of mobile communications, which differs significantly from previous solutions, in particular 4G. Among the main advantages:

  • Improved data transfer speed;
  • Low signal latency;
  • Support for more devices;
  • High energy efficiency;
  • Manifold increased throughput;
  • High user mobility.

Generations in mobile communications were at first a rather arbitrary concept, but in retrospect, the chronology of their development looks like this:

  • 1G – ~1980. Analog cellular connection.
  • 2G – ~1990. The first generation of digital mobile technologies: CDMA, GSM, TDMA. SMS as a killer feature.
  • 3G – ~2000. Mobile broadband access, speeds of several megabits per second: EVDO, HSPA, UMTS;
  • 4G – ~2010. Massively accessible mobile Internet up to gigabit speeds: LTE, WiMAX.

The development of 5G is being carried out by a number of international organisations, including:

  1. 3GPP

Founded to standardise 3G technology, the consortium has become one of the industry’s leading organisations, bringing together international regulators and corporate players to jointly develop wireless standards.

  1. ITU-R

The UN branch deals with communications technologies. It controls the process of standardisation of radio communication technologies and manages the international radio frequency spectrum.

5G Frequency Spectrum

If the clickbait headlines and glowing social media posts have led you to believe that 5G means ubiquitous coverage, gigabit speeds, and a spectrum somewhere in the 3-4 GHz range, then you have been misled. The situation is in many ways more prosaic and complex.

Firstly, the transition to higher frequencies is not directly related to an increase in speed. Secondly, the spectrum is much wider than the notorious 3.4-3.8 GHz range. 5G even uses out-of-fashion frequencies such as 700 MHz and also goes higher – up to 70 GHz.

Finally, don’t expect mind-bogglingly high speeds at first, especially for average users. Of course, this is a real prospect, but before the infrastructure is deployed in the millimetre wave range (mmWave), the shortest, quickly fading but providing speeds of several gigabits per second, the existing capacities will provide a not so significant increase in parameters.

Within 5G NR (5G New Radio) there are two bands:

  1. Frequency Range 1

FR1 includes traditional frequencies, the so-called sub-6 GHz range, that is, below 6 GHz. Part of the ranges of previous generations will be transferred to 5G needs thanks to frequency refarming. Improved coding technologies will allow the new generation of communications to be 30% more efficient than LTE in the same spectrum.

Bandwidth determines the amount of data transmitted. The wider it is, the more information can be delivered with its help. At the moment, the most common practice is to allocate bands of 5, 10, and 20 MHz, combined together into 100 MHz channels. When the sub-6 Ghz bands are massively reoriented to 5G, it will be possible to expand the bands to 160 MHz, and in the millimetre range, we will be talking about channels of 300, 400, and up to 800 MHz for fixed access.

  1. Frequency Range 2

FR2 – fundamentally new millimetre wave frequencies. They start at 24 GHz, rising to ~50 GHz and higher depending on the country and operator. These frequencies have a short range and penetrating power. Their functioning will be ensured not by traditional base stations, but by Small cells – numerous small cells.

Frequency refarming is not unique to 5G, but it is also notable. The fact is that each subsequent generation of mobile communications differs from previous ones not just by a change in range, but also by new coding technologies. At the same time, the ability to work on the basis of the previous generation infrastructure remains. That is, stations previously used for LTE or, for example, for GSM, will continue to operate at the same frequencies, but will transmit data based on 5G technologies.

Refarming will allow you to save on infrastructure, providing optimal coverage for new generation networks. The initial stage of their launch on existing equipment serving 4G networks is the NSA (Non-standalone) phase. As you prepare the necessary infrastructure, you can take advantage of SA (Standalone) 5G networks that support the full range of next-generation benefits.

For Whom Is 5G Technology Relevant?

5G is associated with ultra-high-speed Internet, AR/VR, smart home, and unmanned vehicles. But in addition to consumer use, the technology also has an industrial aspect. 

There are three basic scenarios for using 5G mobile communications:

1. Enhanced mobile broadband

The usual user Internet, but faster and of higher quality. Indoor speeds can reach 1 Gbit/s, and outdoor speeds up to 300 Mbit/s. Maximum speeds will become possible at the stage of installation of the most advanced antennas operating in the millimetre range. They fit well into the landscape due to their small size – for example, on poles, trees, and walls of buildings.

2. Ultra reliable and low latency communications

Communications in which speed is not so important as low latency. This is relevant for autonomous vehicles, which in a critical situation may need less than a millisecond to make a decision. There is currently a discussion about replacing satellite navigation with similar technologies.

3. Massive machine-type communication

Machine-to-machine communications or M2M, as well as IoT, are a separate segment of 5G communications consumers. It is characterised by the connection of a large number of devices, most often industrial, with low power consumption, for which the main requirement is stability and reliability of the connection. These are, in particular, measuring devices, gauges, sensors, and smart city infrastructure facilities. The goals of such a segment are typically realised through the deployment of private 5G mobile networks.

Final Thoughts

Using 5G networks for business may make sense depending on your company’s specific needs and goals. If you are planning to deploy a private 5G network in the UK, we recommend contacting UCtel. Launching a 5G network together with the Nokia DAC solution will allow you to take business process management to a new level.

by Ivan Romanov
Technical Director, UCtel
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