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5G is the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications. It succeeds the 4G (LTE/WiMax), 3G (UMTS) and 2G (GSM) systems. 5G performance targets high data rate, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity, and massive device connectivity. The first phase of 5G specifications in Release-15 will be completed by March 2019, to accommodate the early commercial deployment. The second phase in Release-16 is due completed by March 2020, for submission to the ITU as a candidate of IMT-2020 technology. [1]

The ITU IMT-2020 standard provides speeds up to 20 gigabits per second with millimeter waves of 15 gigahertz and higher frequency. The more recent 3GPP standard includes networks using the NR (New Radio) software. 5G New Radio can include lower frequencies, from 600 MHz to 6 GHz. However, the speeds in these lower frequencies are only slightly higher than new 4G systems, estimated at 15% to 50% faster.[2]


5G promises superior speeds in most conditions to the 4G network. 5G NR speed in sub-6 GHz bands can be slightly higher than 4G with a similar amount of spectrum and antennas.[3][4]

Unless there is substantial field testing, 5G speeds can only be estimated. Qualcomm, the leading chipmaker, presented at Mobile World Congress a model that has been cited by many.[5][6][7] The simulation predicts 490 Mbit/s median speeds for a common configuration of 3.5 GHz 5G Massive MIMO. It predicts a 1.4 Gbit/s median speed for a configuration using 28 GHz millimeter waves.[8]

Some 3GPP 5G networks will be slower than some advanced 4G networks. T-Mobile's LTE/LAA network is deployed and serving customers at over 500 megabits per second in Manhattan.[9] The 5G specification allows LAA as well but it has not yet been demonstrated.

Adding LAA (License Assisted Access) to an existing 4G configuration can add hundreds of megabits per second to the speed, but this is an extension of 4G, not a new part of the 5G standard.[9]

Low Communication Latency[edit]

Latency is the time it takes to get a response to information sent.[10] Low communication latency is one improvement in 5G. Lower latency could help 5G mobile networks enable things such as multiplayer mobile gaming, factory robots, self-driving cars and other tasks demanding quick response.


Initially, the term was defined by the ITU IMT-2020 standard, which required a theoretical peak download capacity of 20 gigabits.[citation needed] More recently, the industry standards group 3GPP has included any system using NR (New Radio) software.[11] The 3GPP standards do not require any particular performance level.

ITU has divided 5G network services into three categories: enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) or handsets; Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC), which includes industrial applications and autonomous vehicles; and Massive Machine Type Communications (MMTC) or sensors.[12] Initial 5G deployments will focus on eMBB[13] and fixed wireless,[14] which makes use of many of the same capabilities as eMBB. 5G will use spectrum in the existing LTE frequency range (600 MHz to 6 GHz) and also in millimeter wave bands (24–86 GHz). 5G technologies have to satisfy ITU IMT-2020 requirements and/or 3GPP Release 15; while IMT-2020 specifies data rates of 20 Gbit/s, 5G speed in sub-6 GHz bands is similar to 4G.[3][4]

IEEE covers several areas of 5G with a core focus in wireline sections between the Remote Radio Head (RRH) and Base Band Unit (BBU). The 1914.1 standards focus on network architecture and dividing the connection between the RRU and BBU into two key sections. Radio Unit (RU) to the Distributor Unit (DU) being the NGFI-I (Next Generation Fronthaul Interface) and the DU to the Central Unit (CU) being the NGFI-II interface allowing a more diverse and cost-effective network. NGFI-I and NGFI-II have defined performance values which should be compiled to ensure different traffic types defined by the ITU are capable of being carried. 1914.3 standard is creating a new Ethernet frame format capable of carrying IQ data in a much more efficient way depending on the functional split utilized, this is based on the 3GPP definition of functional splits. Multiple network synchronization standards within the IEEE groups are being updated to ensure network timing accuracy at the RU is maintained to a level required for the traffic carried over it.


5G systems in line with IMT-2020 specifications,[15] are expected to provide enhanced device- and network-level capabilities, tightly coupled with intended applications. The following eight parameters are key capabilities for IMT-2020 5G:

Capability Description 5G target Usage scenario
Peak data rate Maximum achievable data rate 20 Gbit/s eMBB
User experienced data rate Achievable data rate across the coverage area 1 Gbit/s eMBB
Latency Radio network contribution to packet travel time 1 ms URLLC
Mobility Maximum speed for handoff and QoS requirements 500 km/h eMBB/URLLC
Connection density Total number of devices per unit area 106/km2 MMTC
Energy efficiency Data sent/received per unit energy consumption (by device or network) Equal to 4G eMBB
Spectrum efficiency Throughput per unit wireless bandwidth and per network cell 3–4x 4G eMBB
Area traffic capacity Total traffic across coverage area 1000 (Mbit/s)/m2 eMBB

Note that 5G, as defined by 3GPP, includes spectrum below 6 GHz, with performance closer to 4G. The 3GPP definition is commonly used.


Development of 5G is being led by companies[16] such as[17] Huawei, Intel[18] and Qualcomm[19] for modem technology and Lenovo,[20] Nokia,[21] Ericsson,[22] ZTE,[23] Cisco,[24] and Samsung[25] for infrastructure. AT&T is supporting the current roll-out of the 5G mobile communications generation with high frequency (HF) optimized interconnect solutions by developing and producing hybrid-printed circuit board (PCB) structures [26]

Worldwide commercial launch is expected in 2020. Numerous operators have demonstrated 5G as well, including Korea Telecom for the 2018 Winter Olympics[27][28] and Telstra at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.[29] In the United States, the four major carriers have all announced deployments: AT&T's[30] millimeter wave commercial deployments in 2018, Verizon's 5G fixed wireless launches in four U.S. cities and millimeter-wave deployments,[31] Sprint's launch in the 2.5 GHz band, and T-Mobile's 600 MHz 5G launch in 30 cities.[32] Vodafone performed the first UK trials in April 2018 using mid-band spectrum,[33] and China Telecom's initial 5G buildout in 2018 will use mid-band spectrum as well.[34]

Beyond mobile operator networks, 5G is also expected to be widely utilized for private networks with applications in industrial IoT, enterprise networking, and critical communications.


In order to support increased throughput requirements of 5G, large quantities of new spectrum (5G NR frequency bands) have been allocated to 5G, particularly in millimeter wave bands.[35] For example, in July 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States freed up vast amounts of bandwidth in underutilised high-band spectrum for 5G. The Spectrum Frontiers Proposal (SFP) doubled the amount of millimeter-wave (mmWave) unlicensed spectrum to 14 GHz and created four times the amount of flexible, mobile-use spectrum the FCC had licensed to date.[36] In March 2018, European Union lawmakers agreed to open up the 3.6 and 26 GHz bands by 2020.[37]

Mobile networks[edit]

Initial 5G launches in the sub-6 GHz band will not diverge architecturally from existing LTE 4G infrastructure. Leading network equipment suppliers are Nokia,[17] Huawei,[21] and Ericsson.[22]

5G modems[edit]

Traditional cellular modem suppliers have significant investment in the 5G modem market. Qualcomm announced its X50 5G Modem in October 2016,[38] and in November 2017, Intel announced its XMM8000 series of 5G modems, including the XMM8060 modem, both of which have expected productization dates in 2019.[18][39] In February 2018, Huawei announced the Balong 5G01 terminal device[40] with an expected launch date for 5G-enabled mobile phones of 2018[41] and Mediatek announced its own 5G solutions targeted at 2020 production.[42] Samsung is also working on the Exynos 5G modem, but has not announced a production date.[43]


New radio frequencies[edit]

The air interface defined by 3GPP for 5G is known as New Radio (NR), and the specification is subdivided into two frequency bands, FR1 (<6 GHz) and FR2 (mmWave),[44] each with different capabilities.

Frequency range 1 (< 6 GHz)[edit]

The maximum channel bandwidth defined for FR1 is 100 MHz. Note that beginning with Release 10, LTE supports 100 MHz carrier aggregation (five x 20 MHz channels.) FR1 supports a maximum modulation format of 256-QAM while LTE has a maximum of 64-QAM, meaning 5G achieves significant throughput improvements relative to LTE in the sub-6 GHz bands. However LTE-Advanced already uses 256-QAM, eliminating the advantage of 5G in FR1.

Frequency range 2 (24–86 GHz)[edit]

The maximum channel bandwidth defined for FR2 is 400 MHz, with two-channel aggregation supported in 3GPP Release 15. The maximum phy rate potentially supported by this configuration is approximately 40 Gbit/s. In Europe, 24.25–27.5 GHz is the proposed frequencies range.[45]

Massive MIMO[edit]

Massive MIMO (multiple input and multiple output) antennas increases sector throughput and capacity density using large numbers of antennae and Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO). Each antenna is individually-controlled and may embed radio transceiver components. Nokia claimed a five-fold increase in the capacity increase for a 64-Tx/64-Rx antenna system. The term "massive MIMO" was first coined by Nokia Bell Labs researcher Dr. Thomas L. Marzetta in 2010, and has been launched in 4G networks, such as Softbank in Japan.[citation needed]

Edge computing[edit]

Edge computing is a method of optimizing cloud computing systems "by taking the control of computing applications, data, and services away from some central nodes (the "core area"). In a 5G network, it would promote faster speeds and low latency data transfer on edge devices.[46]

Small cell[edit]


Radio convergence[edit]

One perceived benefit of the transition to 5G is the convergence of multiple networking functions to achieve cost, power and complexity reductions. LTE has targeted convergence with Wi-Fi via various efforts, such as License Assisted Access (LAA) and LTE-WLAN Aggregation (LWA), but the differing capabilities of cellular and Wi-Fi have limited the scope of convergence. However, significant improvement in cellular performance specifications in 5G, combined with migration from Distributed Radio Access Network (D-RAN) to Cloud- or Centralized-RAN (C-RAN) and rollout of cellular small cells can potentially narrow the gap between Wi-Fi and cellular networks in dense and indoor deployments. Radio convergence could result in sharing ranging from the aggregation of cellular and Wi-Fi channels to the use of a single silicon device for multiple radio access technologies.

NOMA (Non-Orthogonal Multiple Access)[edit]

NOMA (Non-Orthogonal Multiple Access) is a proposed multiple access technique for future cellular systems. In this, same time, frequency, and spreading-code resources are shared by the multiple users via allocation of power. The entire bandwidth can be exploited by each user in NOMA for entire communication time due to which latency has been reduced and users’ data rates can be increased. For multiple access, the power domain has been used by NOMA in which different power levels are used to serve different users. 3GPP also included NOMA in LTE-A due to its spectral efficiency and is known as multiuser superposition transmission (MUST) which is two user special case of NOMA.[47]

First 5G network deployments[edit]

A variety of operators have announced 5G trials and network launches. (Comprehensive list of 5G networks.)


To enable the 5G Mobile service, the new spectrum bands were assigned by ACMA. The Australian Government announced that 125 MHz of spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band will be auctioned in late 2018, paving the way for 5G services in metropolitan and regional Australia.[48] Following the 3.6 GHz band, the 26 GHz band is the next candidate for allocation, possibly in the latter part of 2020.[49]

On August 15, 2018, Telstra activated its 5G network on the Gold Coast, Australia making it the first global telecommunications provider to bring a commercial 5G network to market. In February 2018, Telstra had demonstrated that its 5G network could achieve download speeds of 3Gbps and a ping of just 6ms.[50] Optus has announced that it will launch its 5G network in early 2019.[51]


On July 25, 2018, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei conducted Bangladesh's first trial of fifth-generation network (5G). Huawei conducted the trial teaming up with the Bangladeshi government's Posts & Telecommunications Division, the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology and Robi, a joint venture of Axiata Group Berhad (Malaysia) and NTT DoCoMo Inc. (Japan), at a ceremony in the capital Dhaka on Wednesday. This next generation of wireless technology will be commercially launched between 2020-2025 (expected) as officials said. [52]

Finland and Estonia[edit]

On June 27, 2018, Elisa, a Finnish telecommunications company, launched the world's first commercial 5G network in Tampere, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia.[53]


On August 20, 2018, XL Axiata with Nokia has conducted Indonesia's first trial of fifth generation network (5G) in Jakarta Old City.[54] During Asian Games 2018, Telkomsel with Indonesia government's Posts & Telecommunications Division and KT.Group from South Korea Also open Trial of fifth generation network (5G) in Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta.[55]


On March 21, 2017, LMT, launched the world's first 5G network in Riga, Latvia.[56]


Vodacom announced on August 25, 2018, that they have launched the first 5G commercial network in Africa in Lesotho. It will be used to provide fixed connectivity to two corporate clients in the country. The network operates on the 3.5 GHz spectrum. 700Mbps speeds have been achieved.[57]


In Norway a 5G test by Telenor outside Oslo on March 20, 2017, achieved speeds up to 71 Gbps. [58][59] The town of Kongsberg aims to do a test with self-driving busses using 5G by the end of 2018.[60] Norway and Sweden have agreed to cooperate on the integration of 5G technology. [61] In Sweden, Ericsson demonstrated 5G in an outdoor test as early as October 13, 2016. [62] A commercial 5G network will be available in 2020, but Telenor plans to focus on evaluation and will not yet do a massive development.[60]


On June 7, 2018, a Philippine telecommunications company, Globe Telecom announced its plans to adopt 5G (with a partnership with Huawei) and its slated to available commercially by the 2nd quarter of 2019.[63] As of June 25, 2018, Smart Communications claimed to have the fastest 5G network.[64]


Ooredoo, a large mobile network operator in Qatar, launched the first commercial 5G network in the world as of May 2018 in 3.5 GHz band.[65]

Vodafone Qatar has ramped up for 5G with the first tests successfully conducted using spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band allocated for 5G in July 2018. Vodafone Qatar has launched its 5G services officially in August 2018.[66]

South Korea[edit]

South Korea successfully launched the trial of 5G showcases during the 2018 Winter Olympics.[27][28]

Fixed Wireless Mobile
Operator Launch Date Bands Launch Geographies Launch Date Bands Launch Geographies
KT, LG U+, and SK Telecom By no later than the middle of 2019 T.B.D Seoul, Incheon, Daejeon, Daegu, Busan T.B.D T.B.D T.B.D

South Korea's three major mobile companies which are KT, LG U+, and SK Telecom, agreed to collaborate on a single nationwide 5G infrastructure by no later than the middle of 2019. Previously South Korea's three mobile companies constructed their 3G or 4G network independently. South Korea Government recommended sharing some of their infrastructure (examples: 3G/4G base-station and mobile tower) where it is possible. However, South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT analyzed that 5G requires "small cell" base stations, which is expected to about 8~12 times of more significant numbers of stations to cover the current coverage of 4G base stations. It potentially involves a lot of infrastructure cost and redundant investments.[67] South Korea agreed to collaborate with China and Japan for the 5G standardisation.[68]


Vodafone announced officially in July 2018 that they had completed a minor pre-market deployment of 5G base stations across several big cities in Spain including Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Málaga, Bilbao and Sevilla. They also announced that only the wireless technology is completely 5G based but not the connection of the base stations itself, which will be temporarily based on the LTE infrastructure.[69]

United Kingdom[edit]

EE, a large mobile network operator in the UK, plans to trial a 5G network in October 2018. A small number of businesses and homes in East London Tech City will take part in the trial.[70] BT Group, who owns EE, had previously said during a presentation in May 2018 that they plan to launch a commercial 5G product "within 18 months".[71] The UK first plans to deploy 5G to London and other major cities (e.g, Bristol, Birmingham) as a starting point, and then it will establish a 5G network in other major cities. The next step will be for small- and medium-sized towns.[72]

In March 2018 UK Government has also announced a £25 million investment to development rural 5G test beds. The winners include 5G RuralFirst, 5GRIT, 5G Smart Tourism, Worcestershire 5G Consortium, Liverpool 5G Testbed, and Autoair.

United States[edit]

US operators' launch plans fall into two distinct categories: Fixed wireless and mobile. Fixed wireless typically services residential broadband customers with speeds in excess of 1 Gbit/s using mmWave bands. Mobile launch will use sub-6 GHz spectrum in traditional LTE or newly-allocated bands with similar performance to LTE.

Fixed wireless Mobile
Operator Launch date Bands Launch areas Launch date Bands Launch areas
AT&T TBD[73] 28/39 GHz[74][75] Trials: Austin, Waco, South Bend, Kalamazoo End 2018[76] TBD[77] Dallas, Waco, Atlanta (12 cities total)[78]
Verizon Oct 1, 2018[79] 28 GHz 3-5 cities including Indianapolis, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Houston. 1H 2019[80] TBD[81] TBD
Sprint N/A N/A[82] 1H 2019[83] 2.5 GHz Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Washington, New York, Phoenix, Kansas City
T-Mobile End 2018 28/39 GHz[84] Trials: Bellevue, WA[85] End 2018[86] 600 MHz Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Dallas (30 cities total)
Dish Network N/A N/A 2020[87] 600 MHz
Charter Communications End 2018 28 GHz[88] Orlando, Reno, Clarksville TN, Columbus, Bakersfield and Grand Rapids

Health concerns[edit]

The World Health Organization (WHO) has researched electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and their alleged effects on public health, concluding that such exposures within recommended limits do not produce any known adverse health effect.[89] In response to public concern, the WHO established the International EMF Project in 1996 to assess the scientific evidence of possible health effects of EMF in the frequency range from 0 to 300 GHz. They have stated that although extensive research has been conducted into possible health effects of exposure to many parts of the frequency spectrum, all reviews conducted so far have indicated that, as long as exposures are below the limits recommended in the ICNIRP (1998) EMF guidelines, which cover the full frequency range from 0–300 GHz, such exposures do not produce any known adverse health effect. [90] Stronger or more frequent exposures to EMF can be unhealthy, and in fact, serve as the basis for electromagnetic weaponry.

The FCC plans to auction off the Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) licenses for two bands – 28 GHz (27.5–28.35 GHz) and 24 GHz (24.25–24.45 and 24.75–25.25 GHz) on November 14, 2018.[91]

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External links[edit]

Preceded by
4th Generation (4G)
Mobile telephony generations Succeeded by