What will 5G+, which awaits us around 2025, look like?

What will 5G+, which awaits us around 2025, look like?

The first phase of 5G has just ended in indifference. It must be said that only the specialists knew about it. The 3GPP group, which defines the technical specifications of mobile telephony standards, has indeed completed Release 17 in 2021.

A new chapter has just opened this second quarter of 2022 with negotiations on 5G Advanced from Release 18, as well as all the versions that will follow. For convenience, we’ll call it 5G+ even though that’s not its official name. A nod to 4G Advanced which was commonly referred to as 4G+.

Equipment manufacturers in battle order

The content of the discussions was scheduled at the end of last year. Be careful, the final result is far from being adopted, so things may change. Nokia, Ericsson and all the equipment manufacturers are in any case in working order to push their patents. This is also the case of Qualcomm, which has long insisted on its own innovations during its 5G Summit which we attended this month of May.

“The first phase of 5G laid the foundations, then it opened up to verticals outside of telecom operators. 5G Advanced will increase network efficiency and support a wider variety of use cases.”summarized Juan Montojo, Qualcomm’s vice president of engineering.

Behind the scenes of the operators

This will not necessarily be seen by users, but the idea is to make base stations much more energy efficient with fairly strict specifications. To achieve this, manufacturers intend to integrate more artificial intelligence and in particular machine learning in networks.

ML should also make it possible to better manage the metaverse and XR (extended reality), which designates both augmented and virtual reality applications. “The main challenge is to simultaneously provide very high data throughput and limited latency”underlines Ericsson in one of his reports.

The Massive MIMO, which consists in multiplying the antennas in transmission and reception, should be pushed to its maximum with base stations which could support up to 512 elements against 64 currently. There is also a debate within 3GPP to move towards new antennas that would work in full-duplex. They could send and receive information more frequently and almost simultaneously on the same frequency band, instead of waiting for a slot to do so in turn as is currently the case. We let you imagine what gain it would be for latency. But interference problems remain to be solved.

There is also talk of the integration into 5G of non-terrestrial networks (NTN) what are satellites, high-altitude platforms or, surprisingly, drones. NTNs could thus extend coverage. And the reception of the moving signal in a train or car should be better. Enhanced repeater functionality is also provided to reduce interference and noise while extending range.

A Starlink satellite lift-off.

The idea would finally be to be able to connect a new category of objects which do not necessarily have performance requirements as high as smartphones. They are called “reduced capacity devices” or RedCap and may relate to video surveillance cameras or even small sensors. In contrast, high-capacity terminals such as self-driving cars, robots and delivery drones will also need to be supported by providing extremely reliable links.

A boosted upflow

As you know, 5G promises from the start an ideal speed of 1 Gbit/s in downstream speed. But on the upstream side, the first quality of service tests did not show any obvious improvements. It is a will, of course, of the operators who prefer to grant more bandwidth where the needs of the users are. But it is also due to the limitations of the first versions of 5G. With 5G+, we would go from a theoretical maximum of 500 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s.

Fine positioning indoors

We expect indoor positioning with an accuracy of the order of a centimeter, against several tens of centimeters currently. This will be very useful in factories 4.0 but also for connected objects in general. This could also be beneficial for outdoor geolocation, in addition to a satellite positioning system.

Indoor positioning test at a Qualcomm lab in San Diego.

Consumer users may not be the first to be directly affected by 5G Advanced. This development should mainly bring benefits to companies. “5G-Advanced offers valuable benefits for use cases as diverse as smart grid control, industrial automation, and real-time financial transactions. This will improve navigation and make logistics systems more efficient”can we read on the official website of Nokia.

It remains to be seen how long will 5G + last and from when it will be necessary to switch to 6G? This will depend on the evolution of uses and traffic needs. But not before 2030, at least, experts say.

Sources: Qualcomm, Ericsson, Nokia