The speed and depth of 5G (opens in new tab) Acceptance have exceeded all expectations. Less than two years after standardization was completed, 5G is already covering half of all countries and serving almost a third of the world’s population. With two billion connections projected by 2025 and one billion connections expected by the end of the year, 5G is on track to become the fastest adopted mobile phone (opens in new tab) technology in history.
About the author
Barbara Paglio is Executive Director for Advanced Air Mobility and IoT Technical Director at the GSMA (opens in new tab).
As you might expect, the technology will be rolled out in different phases. 5G-Advanced, part of the 3GPP Release 18 planned for 2024, will be the latest milestone in the 5G era.
5G-Advanced heralds a new wave of wireless (opens in new tab) technological innovations designed to strengthen the fundamentals of the 5G system. 5G-Advanced will further enhance three existing pillars of 5G, including IoT, eMBB and URLLC, by improving speed, coverage, mobility and energy efficiency, and providing new features that open opportunities in new markets.
These innovations meet the needs of emerging services such as video outside broadcasting or eSports. Additionally, they enable entirely new ways to deploy cost-effective capacity for massive IoT deployments and enterprise segments, improving performance and location accuracy.
These developments push the boundaries of 5G technology in three core directions: performance, management and efficiency, and use cases.
1. Improving the performance of 5G
As people’s lives and industrial production continue to be digitized in every respect, we are generating exponential amounts of data (opens in new tab) distributed over 5G networks. To stay ahead of this growing demand, 5G-Advanced offers operators and users a wide range of important performance improvements.
With improved 5G Massive MIMO performance, users can experience improved throughput, improved coverage, improved power consumption, improved reliability and support for more device antennas.
Uplink performance also benefits as a large number of frequency bands can be used and the concurrent uplink transmission limitation is overcome. In combination with the addition of Massive MIMO, the uplink capacity increases and further supports applications such as smart transportation or entertainment.
Improved scheduling through single downlink control information (DCI) for multi-carrier operations minimizes control channel overheads. The enhanced service experience for mobile devices operating in sub-7GHz and mmWave bands of 5G-Advanced will support lower handover latency and create more seamless carrier aggregation and dual connectivity operations.
5G-Advanced will also support sub-decimeter position accuracy and enable innovations in time-sensitive communications to support industrial automation, machine-to-machine communications and smart grids.
2. Improving the management and efficiency of 5G
Through these performance improvements, 5G-Advanced will enable improved management and deliver greater efficiency for 5G systems.
5G-Advanced will offer enhanced sustainability and efficiency by using AI/ML data-driven designs to optimize network power conservation and improve user experience and network operations. At the same time, the security and privacy features of 5G-Advanced, which build on the already rigorous requirements of 5G, will be enhanced with various new features including AI, ML and networking (opens in new tab) Automation. 5G-Advanced will also enable 5G systems to run with near-zero human intervention by providing self-organizing network technology, management data analysis, intent-driven management and closed-loop Service Level Specification (SLS) security.
The service-based management architecture (SBMA), which includes network slicing, will bring more flexibility to the operations and maintenance functions of 5G-Advanced. In Rel-18 (the next version), we can expect a bigger improvement of SBMA and Network Slicing, such as:
3. Strengthening 5G Use Cases
Finally, 5G-Advanced will improve high-speed connectivity use cases and ensure that the user experience is not compromised by the speed at which people travel.
Technology will continue to evolve to provide an exciting new range of intelligent connectivity solutions supporting use cases with a focus on uplink communications, intelligent transportation, intelligent city applications and entertainment services. Mobile use cases in automotive and public transport, including high-speed trains and in-flight connectivity over air-to-ground networks, will benefit significantly.
5G-Advanced will also efficiently support highly immersive and interactive applications such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR), which we can expect to see more widespread use in entertainment, training and education will . At the same time, 5G-Advanced will strengthen support for low-power devices such as industrial wireless sensors, smart watches and smart eyewear along with sub-5MHz bandwidths; and supporting drones, as well as non-terrestrial networks (e.g. those provided by satellites) that allow full and seamless cooperation with terrestrial networks.
In summary, 5G-Advanced ushers in a new era of wireless connectivity, both enhancing existing commercial 5G networks and opening a range of new B2B business models. It will serve a variety of industries with different ecosystems, requirements and regulatory environments. We will see that operators will quickly adopt 5G-Advanced to improve their service offerings and make better use of spectrum and network resources while minimizing the energy consumption required to provide communications services, with an ever-increasing demand for data volumes and global Links.
Over time, we can expect the technology to evolve to support integrated sensing and communications, ambient IoT, tactile and multimodal communications services, mobile metaverse services, and networks of service robots with ambient intelligence.
Given the great potential we see in this technology, the GSMA encourages and facilitates cross-industry collaboration (opens in new tab) to fully explore new use cases for the diverse possibilities of 5G-Advanced.
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