Why is 5G Technology key for Smarter Cities?

Shahzad, Business Development Lead

By: Shahzad Nadeem

Head of Smart Cities

19th June 2020

5 minute read

As cities become bigger and more densely populated, technology is seen as the key to growing our urban landscape successfully. Technologies can support our work, our living spaces, our supply chains and much more. In this blog, I will introduce 5G technology and briefly explain its applications for future smarter city living.

Background: why is 5G the real breakthrough?

Mobile communications technology has come a long way from the times of Analog tetra band and voice-based GSM cellular systems. Gradual advancements brought new dimensions to communication technologies. 2G, 3G and 4G focused on improvements in throughput to enable faster applications. However, the incremental advances in communication technologies along with Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Edge Computing, Cloud Computing, Software-Defined Networking and Network Function Virtualisation have led to the development of super-fast, ultra-reliable, very high capacity and highly secure technology called 5G. This is the technology that ‘understands reality’ on the go. The opportunities and use cases of 5G are unlimited and we can only expect a better experience in all walks of life.

While the earlier technologies concentrated solely on improving speed, 5G caters for speed, low latency and high connection density. The three dimensions of 5G applications are eMBB – Enhanced Mobile Broadband, uRLLC – Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications and mMTC – Massive Machine Type Communications. These dimensions cater to applications that need very high bandwidth or are very sensitive to latency or need large numbers of low-speed connections.

Why is 5G Technology key for Smarter Cities

5G will enable applications like fast wireless broadband, virtual reality, augmented reality, self-driving vehicles, machine to machine communications, industrial automation, and many other smart city applications.

What is 5G?

5G is a cellular technology using the new kind of radio called 5G NR (New Radio). 5G NR brings together OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), advanced channel coding, massive MIMO and mm-Wave to deliver the advanced 5G features.

5G NR will be mainly used in three frequency bands:
• 700MHz will give marginal improvement on speeds of 250Mbps max compared to LTE
• 3.5GHz will give a max speed of 900Mbps
• 26/28GH called the mmWave band will get us up to 3Gbps.

As we go higher in frequency, the coverage area will decrease so much so that the mmWave band will hardly cover a mile in dense urban areas.

table showing benefits of 5G

Which applications need 5G?

eMBB demands 20Gbps DL /10 Gbps UL, 4ms user plane latency and mobility of 500km/hour. It caters for applications like VR, AR, Virtual meetings, Fixed Wireless Access, UHD video and Video monitoring. These applications need high throughput to deliver the high-quality user experience. These applications are already in use but mainly use cable broadband rather than mobile broadband. 5G adds the wireless mobility factor that enables all of these applications on the go.

mMTC require 1 million devices / sq km and 10 years+ battery life. It enables applications like wearables, social networking, Smart Homes, Smart Cities, Health care monitoring, Vehicle to infrastructure communications and specific industrial applications. These applications need long battery life and high connection density to cater to millions of devices in a small area.

uRLCC needs 1ms user plane latency, high availability and high security. It supports applications like remote surgery, public safety, vehicle to pedestrian applications and mission-critical specialised industrial applications. These applications demand quick decision time, precision and high levels of security.

Who is winning in 5G?

TIM Italia took the lead in deploying the first 5G network in Europe but several mobile operators across the world almost simultaneously claimed to be the first in 5G launch. Oreedo Qatar, STC Saudi Arabia and Etisalat UAE announced the deployments of their 5G network at around the same time. In Europe, Vodafone, Telefonica O2, EE and Three mobile have limited 5G deployments in place. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-mobile seem to be leading the market in America. In the Asia Pacific, China mobile, NTT Docomo and Telstra announced their 5G launch at around the end of 2019. The race is on and the operators across the world are trying to take a lead in offering 5G services.

If you have any questions about how 5G can enhance your technology roadmap, please get in touch for an initial chat.