Have you ever thought about how machines will replace humans across industries? Will there be a time when artificial intelligence will control and command the processes just based on data accumulated? Something like this will be a dream come true for various industrial segments like retail, mining, manufacturing, sports, healthcare, tourism, etc.
The fifth-generation networks will resolve the issues faced by industries, maximize their profit, and increase revenue by providing seamless connectivity through ultrafast speed. Enterprise 5G is not just a mobile communication technology. It is a language of communication between machines, and devices since it suffices the requirements of higher speed. Now the question that everyone asks is: What is this 5G? How will it transform the networks? What are the possible speeds? How will it connect machines? Let us now see these in detail.
5G is a fifth-generation network introduced by 3GPP from Rel 15 onwards. It’s the next-generation network that came into existence after LTE. Since 4G was already a data network, several limitations restricted it to limited use cases.
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5G shows incredible promise in improving customer experience by providing faster speeds, lower latency, applying intelligence, improving cost and performance.
Enterprises are looking for private networks to drive numerous applications, reduce human intervention, enhance customer experience, provide faster resolution, etc. So far, they are using unlicensed spectrum, LoRA, and Wi-Fi through which they can run only limited applications.
5G and Spectrum
3GPP, as a standard body, defines the frequency spectrum in two sets based on spatial multiplexing or MIMO antenna system. The two different sets of 5G spectrum are FR-1 and FR-2, namely sub-6 GHz, ranging from 450 MHz to 6GHz, and mmWave ranging from 24.25 GHz to 52.6 GHz.
Since 5G will gradually replace LTE, but not in one go, spectrum sharing is done both in FDD and TDD usage. Several duplex modes in which the 5G spectrum is operational are categorized as TDD, FDD, SDL, SUL, etc.
Enterprise 5G, which is leading the industries toward transformation, requires higher speed, which is majorly achieved using licensed spectrum available in different geographies, e.g., CBRS in the US and EU in Europe. These spectrums have their own limitations because of which all the three major use cases of 5G, namely eMBB, uRLLC, and mMTC, cannot be implemented.
|S.No||Freq Range||Band||Use Cases (Industry)||Use Cases (Device)||Speed||Latency||Coverage Type|
|1||30GHz-300 GHz||mmWave||Retail, Sports, I4.0, Theme Park||AR VR, IR Camera, Cart, Bands, etc.||5Gbps||1/4 millisec||Indoor|
|2||6GHz- 450 MHz||sub-6||Mining, Smart City Application, Theme Park etc.||Sensors, Camera, Mobile, etc.||300 Mbps||1 millisec||Outdoor|
|3||3550MHz – 3700MHz||CBRS||Cellular, Defense etc.||Mobile Phones, Radar, Tactical||135 Mbps||200 millisec||Outdoor|
|4||3300MHz – 4200MHz (n77)||C-Band||Cellular, eMBB||Video Analytics, Gaming, 8K Streaming||3 Gbps||1 millisec||Indoor & Outdoor|
|5||3300MHz – 3800MHz (n78)||C-Band||Cellular, eMBB||Mobile Phones||3 Gbps||1 millisec||Indoor & Outdoor|
|6||4400MHz – 5000MHz (n79)||C-Band||Cellular, eMBB||Mobile Phones||3 Gbps||1 millisec||Indoor & Outdoor|
|7||2496MHz – 2690 MHz (n41)||BRS||Broadband Network, Cable Television||None||100 Mbps||350 millisec||Outdoor|
|8||2300MHz – 2400MHz (n40)||S-Band||Satellite, Radar, Weather||None||10 Mbps||250 millisec||Outdoor|
|9||1850 MHz-3800 MHz||LTE||Healthcare, Education, Smart City||Camera, Sensors||250 Mbps||100 millsec||Indoor & Outdoor|
|10||1800 MHz-2100MHz||WCDMA||150 Mbps||500 millisec||Indoor & Outdoor|
|11||900 MHz- 1800MHz||GSM||2 Mbps||1000 millsec||Indoor & Outdoor|
|12||100 KHz- 500 KHz||LoRA||Asset Tracking, Logistics, Parking||Camera, Sensors||27 Kbps||800 millisec||Indoor|
|13||2.4 MHz- 4.5 MHz||Wifi||25 Mbps||1000 millsec||Indoor|
We have now understood the two different kinds of frequencies available in 5G, but what about deploying 5G network at an enterprise level? The important question that arises here is whether to choose sub-6 or mmWave for a private 5G network. The answer to this question is based on a simple mathematical formula. If the frequency is low, the speed will be low, and we know industry use cases rely purely on higher speeds.
5G mmWave has characteristics of low latency that will help in live streaming, enhanced gaming, and 5G implementation across all the industrial verticals.
Sub-6 is a good choice where long-distance propagation is required, as it carries with it 5G and LTE speeds. But, when it comes to enterprise-level, where the area is dense, but coverage required is confined only to that premises, mmWave is the best-suited option.
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CBRS is limited to a 150 MHz band, which can be used for cellular communication due to its long-distance propagation, but it can’t drive any enterprise 5G network applications.
The 71–76, 81–86, and 92–95 GHz bands are also used for point-to-point high-bandwidth communication links. These higher frequencies do not suffer from oxygen absorption but require a transmitting license in the US from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Globally, the 5G mid-band (3.5G to 6 GHz) spectrum, specifically sub 2GHz to 4.2GHz, offers reliable private wireless services to enterprises and is becoming a preferred choice for many deployments. In the USA, 3.5G to 3.7GHz (Band 48) is gaining momentum for enterprise private wireless networks. A new generation of vendors and operators are now offering private wireless solutions that take advantage of 5G mid-band spectrums.
There are some inherent challenges with CBRS though it has higher capacity levels and provides higher coverage but in the USA the license is allocated in a Tier wise format. This translates into Tier-1 operators getting the best access to the spectrum whereas Tier-3 will have the least access only. The format of prioritization plays an important role and takes into consideration that operators falling in Tier-2&3 category could also utilize the spectrum. Another best example is Japan where only Tier-1 has all the access so it avoids environmental scanning completely.
The C-Band in the 5G spectrum majorly comprises n77, n78 & n79 frequency bands. These form a part of sub-6 and are capable enough for indoor and outdoor coverage. Apart from this, they offer higher speeds, which are quite suitable for cellular communication and eMBB use cases of 5G monetization. The most used band is n78, as it serves dual purposes due to its least latency and higher speeds.
The n41 band is another one with a range of 2.4 GHz to 2.6 GHz and is mostly used for cable and TV transmission. DTH service is a fine example of BRS, which transmits the radio frequency containing broadcasting signals. Another use that fits into this frequency range is broadband communication.
The frequency range between 2.3 GHz to 2.4 GHz is allocated for radar and satellite communication. As the purpose illustrates, this is majorly used by the meteorology department, airlines, defense communication, etc. Due to its characteristics of long-range communication, this is best suited for transmitting radio signals over a licensed spectrum.
The fourth-generation networks were designed majorly for data. They were quite faster than 3G networks but could not work efficiently in an IoT environment. WiMAX was another approach through which several use cases were built, but their lack of speed can’t drive them for longer. Sub-6 and NB-IoT utilize the LTE bands through MIMO to work upon 5G monetization use cases.
WCDMA & GSM
The second and third-generation networks could only drive the cellular communication as they were using the E1 transmission. IP transport has become an integral part of WCDMA networks, but it has huge latency, which is not capable of driving IoT. Also, these networks could not perform handover by themselves because of which there was a loss of communication, even in a cellular network.
Lora WAN & Wi-Fi
Lora WAN and Wi-Fi fall into the category of unlicensed spectrum and have several limitations as well. These can also be termed legacy connectivity methods that were used by organizations to automate their daily operations. As they are available openly and do not have any guard bands, MTBF is too high for them, resulting in higher maintenance costs for the user. The speed offered by these is restricted to some use cases only and cannot drive any IoT device that needs an ultra-fast, low latency network.
Solution: Why CBRS enough can’t suffice for Enterprise 5G
A careful consideration of all factors on a global level is important because the industrial requirements vary from one to another and hence choosing the right spectrum becomes a crucial factor. Sometimes we can see that Tier-1 has the best access and better services for end-user but Tier-2&3 may not have even if they are in the same band range.
The deployment across different geographies varies on the availability of the network, core business, and industrial development. Mostly high-end customers prefer Tier-1 CSP as a result of which CBRS only can’t suffice the entire 5G requirements.