C|NET’s 5G Glossary

Do you want to show off your 5G knowledge to your friends? Or seem like the smartest person at a party? Check out C|NET’s 5G glossary below. 

5G NR 

The 5G bit is pretty obvious, but the NR stands for New Radio. You don’t have to know a lot about this beyond the fact that it’s the name of the standard that the entire wireless industry is rallying behind, and it just came out in December.

That’s important because it means everyone is on the same page when it comes to their mobile 5G networks. Carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile are following 5G NR as they build their networks. But Verizon, which began testing 5G as a broadband replacement service before the standard was approved, isn’t using the standard — yet. The company says it’ll eventually adopt 5G NR for its broadband service, and intends to use NR for its 5G mobile network.

Millimeter wave

All cellular networks use airwaves to ferry data over the air, with standard networks using spectrum in lower frequency bands like 700 megahertz. Generally, the higher the band or frequency, the higher the speed you can achieve. The consequence of higher frequency, however, is a shorter range.

To achieve those crazy-high 5G speeds, you need really, really high-frequency spectrum. The millimeter wave range falls between 24 gigahertz and 100 gigahertz.

The problem with super-high-frequency spectrum, besides the short range, is it’s pretty finicky — a leaf blows the wrong way and you get interference. Forget about obstacles like walls. Companies like Verizon are working on using software and broadcasting tricks to get around these problems and ensure stable connections.

Small cell

Traditional cellular coverage typically stems from gigantic towers littered with different radios and antennas. Those antennas are able to broadcast signals at a great distance, so you don’t need a lot of them. Small cells are the opposite —  backpack-size radios can be hung up on street lamps, poles rooftops or other areas. They can only broadcast a 5G signal at a short range, so the idea is to have a large number of them in a densely packed network. 

Some cities have this kind of dense network in place, but if you go outside of the metro area, that’s where small cells become more of a challenge. 

Sub-6GHz

Given how troublesome really high-band spectrum can be (see the “millimeter wave” section above), there’s a movement to embrace spectrum at a much lower frequency, or anything lower than 6GHz. The additional benefit is that carriers can use the spectrum they already own to get going on 5G networks. T-Mobile, for instance, has a swath of 600MHz spectrum it plans to use to power its 5G deployment. Prior to sub-6GHz, that would’ve been impossible.

That’s why you’re seeing more carriers embrace the lower-frequency spectrum.

But the lower-frequency spectrum has the opposite problem: While it reaches great distances, it doesn’t have the same speed and capacity as millimeter wave spectrum.

The ideal down the line will be for carriers to use a blend of the two.

Gigabit LTE

You’re hearing more about Gigabit LTE as a precursor to 5G. Ultimately it’s about much higher speeds on the existing LTE network. But the work going toward building a Gigabit LTE network provides the foundation for 5G.

For more on Gigabit LTE, read our explainer here.

MIMO

An abbreviation of “multiple inputs, multiple outputs.” Basically, it’s the idea of shoving more antennas into our phones and on cellular towers. And you can always have more antennas. They feed into the faster Gigabit LTE network, and companies are deploying what’s known as 4×4 MIMO, in which four antennas are installed in a phone.

Carrier aggregation 

Wireless carriers can take different bands of radio frequencies and bind them together so phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 can pick and choose the speediest and least congested one available. Think of it as a three-lane highway so cars can weave in and out depending on which lane has less traffic.

QAM 

This is a term that’s so highly technical, I don’t even bother to explain the nuance. It stands for quadrature amplitude modulation. See? Don’t even worry about it.

What you need to know is that it allows traffic to move quickly in a different way than carrier aggregation or MIMO. Remember that highway analogy? Well, with 256 QAM, you’ll have big tractor trailers carrying data instead of tiny cars. MIMO, carrier aggregation and QAM are already going into 4G networks, but play an important role in 5G too.

Beamforming 

This is a way to direct 5G signals in a specific direction, potentially giving you your own specific connection. Verizon has been using beamforming for millimeter wave spectrum, getting around obstructions like walls or trees.

Unlicensed spectrum 

Cellular networks all rely on what’s known as licensed spectrum, which they own and purchased from the government.

But the move to 5G comes with the recognition that there just isn’t enough spectrum when it comes to maintaining wide coverage. So the carriers are moving to unlicensed spectrum, similar to the kind of free airwaves that our Wi-Fi networks ride on.

Network slicing

This is the ability to carve out individual slivers of spectrum to offer specific devices the kind of connection they need. For instance, the same cellular tower can offer a lower-power, slower connection to a sensor for a connected water meter in your home, while at the same time offering a faster, lower-latency connection to a self-driving car that’s navigating in real time.

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C|NET: Why Rural Areas Can’t Catch A Break On Speedy Broadband

Everyone agrees on the mission to connect more people. But no one can agree on how to do it.

C|NET BB

 

 

This is part of CNET’s “Crossing the Broadband Divide” series exploring the challenges of getting internet access to everyone.

 

 

[…]

In previous generations, communities thrived based on their proximity to infrastructure like roads, railways, airports and rivers to distribute goods. Today, it’s about having access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet. Communities without access will simply wither and die, says Jonathan Chambers, a former FCC official and partner at the Washington-based consulting firm Conexon, which works with electric co-ops looking to deliver rural broadband service.

People will vote with their feet and move away from places that do not provide high-speed internet access,” he said. “They will leave, and that community will not survive.”

[…]

But the biggest barrier to getting broadband in certain areas of the country is low population density. Broadband providers simply won’t offer service if they can’t get enough customers to pay for it.

[…]

The advent of 5G wireless, which promises to bring increased speeds and network responsiveness, is also unlikely to reach rural communities.

[…]

Market forces are what will drive the deployment of 5G,” said Blair Levin, who oversaw the FCC’s National Broadband report in 2010 and who served as chief of staff to Clinton-era FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. “The 5G economics are very different than they are for 4G. And cities, because of their density, are in a much better position to drive 5G deployment than rural communities.”

[…]

“Even if you make it cheaper to deploy and invest in the network, if you can’t sustain a business because the population density is too low, it doesn’t really matter,” Brake said.

[…]

. . . 5G, which needs hundreds of radios to cover relatively short distances, is likely prohibitively expensive to make sense for rural areas.

There’s also the use of unlicensed TV broadcast spectrum called white spaces. Microsoft, which holds several royalty-free technology patents for using this spectrum, announced a program in July 2017 to connect 2 million people in rural America by 2022 through partnerships with telecom companies. The company promised to have 12 projects up and running in 12 states in the next 12 months.

The FCC has set rules for the use of white space spectrum and established an administrator of a national database to identify channels that can be used by devices accessing the shared spectrum. But there have been problems with the database’s accuracy, and there’s not yet an ecosystem of devices, which means it could be a while before the technology is widely used by consumers.

Full Article is HERE.  Color highlights added.

 

 

Intel Promotes 5G Technology on POLITICO

“5G is not simply about the next generation of connectivity, where transmission speeds are faster and latency is reduced. 5G offers the ability to connect billions of smart devices with billions of other smart devices, creating virtually unlimited computing everywhere.”

– Sandra Rivera, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Network Platforms Group at Intel

More HERE
Question: Will rural citizens have access to “virtually unlimited computing everywhere.”Will small rural communities have billions of smart devices?  I would like to see Intel make the case that their technology will bring ubiquitous computing to rural communities.

AT&T AirGig Power Line Broadband?

AT&T has started initial discussion with suppliers for a commercial deployment of its Project AirGig, which delivers wireless broadband over powerlines. In a Monday press release, the company also detailed its plans for additional trials and research into surface-wave systems, which could help AirGig integrate better into a 5G future.

Because AirGig sends the signal across power lines, it can reach more users in rural and suburban areas. According to our sister site CNET, the deployment of AirGig could bring 100-megabit rural broadband by 2021, opening up new remote work and telecommuting opportunities for professionals around the US.

“We’ve applied for more than 500 patents for AirGig and conducted field trials both in and outside the United States,” Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and CTO, said in the release. “And today, we’re confident that we’re on the cusp of a technology that could potentially help to solve the digital divide in this country.”

The rest of the article is HERE.

All previous attempts to use power lines to deliver broadband have failed. Why should this one be any different? Your thoughts?

FCC Prepares to Push Forward With Streamlining 5G Deployment

A Federal Communications Commission member announced a proposed order Tuesday that would limit the fees municipalities can charge providers to deploy fifth-generation wireless infrastructure, as well as shorten application review periods.

Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, highlighted his plan in a speech before the Indiana Senate—Indianapolis having recently been selected by Verizon to pilot 5G residential service later this year.

Carr said his plan would save providers $2 billion in unnecessary fees and streamline small cell deployments in both cities and underserved rural and suburban communities of all sizes. But an advocate for local government voiced concerns about the as-yet-unreleased order.

“I understand he is trying to offer a compromise to local government, but unfortunately it is just too much federal overreach,” Angelina Panettieri, principal associate for technology and communications at the National League of Cities, told Route Fifty.

Details at Route Fifty.

5G Is Not Going To Microwave Your Brain

With the transition to a new networking technology, some familiar scare stories are reemerging. You might even have seen a few in the comments here. “5G will give you cancer,” “mmWave technology leads to brain tumors,” and “smartphones are microwaving our bodies,” or so the stories go.

It’s all hogwash. Details HERE.

This chart tells the story, cell phone use increased, but cancers did not. This would indicate there is no immediate connection.

cellphone_cancer_rates

Your thoughts?