Demystifying 5G to understand its complexity

May 07, 2019 // By Reiner Stuhlfauth
Demystifying 5G to understand its complexity
2019 is the year mobile network operators will begin to roll out 5G services. The technology is designed to be almost infinitely flexible to support a wide variety of services, and is therefore highly complex. So while there are many new opportunities to be discovered, there is also a lot to learn. As the ancient saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Of course, the early steps on this journey are somewhat tentative. The 5G-infrastructure deployments this year will be Non-Standalone (NSA); using 5G frequencies for high-speed data exchanges while relying on 4G technologies to manage connections to infrastructure and servers. So far, the test specifications for 5G devices are not fully finalised. For NSA, although the 3GPP TS38.521-3 transmitter and receiver tests for interworking with LTE in Frequency Range 1 (FR1) below 6 GHz and in the FR2 mm-wave bands (24 GHz-52 GHz) are quite well developed, others such as performance tests (38.521-4) and radio resource management (RRM) test requirements have been standardized, yet there are still open points to be clarified.

Happily, the corresponding specifications for standalone (SA) operation, namely TS38.521-1 for FR1 and TS38.521-2 for FR2 are more advanced, although other parts of the SA standards will not be approved until later this year.

Anyone currently developing products or services to use 5G networks must work with the fact that test specifications are not complete, which could lead to compatibility or performance problems. They need to know how to handle this, while standards makers work quickly to remedy the situation.

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