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5G Network Architecture and The Future Mobile Internet

Toronto_2, Canada
(Toronto, Canada - Wei-Jiun Su)


- Overview

One of the central design challenges associated with 5G wireless systems is that of effectively converging 3GPP-based mobile networks with the global Internet. Although the trend towards “flat” IP-based architectures for cellular networks is well under way with LTE, significant architectural evolution will be needed to achieve the goal of supporting the needs of mobile devices and applications as “first-class” services on the Internet. 


- Vision of 5G Network Architecture

Design considerations for 5G network architectures supporting demanding applications are complex. For example, there is no one-size-fits-all approach; the scope of the application requires data transmission distance, large data volumes, or some combination. Therefore, the 5G architecture must support low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum from licensed, shared, and private sources to realize the full 5G vision. 

For this reason, 5G is designed to operate on radio frequencies from sub-1 GHz to extremely high frequencies, known as "millimeter waves" (or mmWave). The lower the frequency, the farther the signal travels. The higher the frequency, the more data it can carry.

There are three core frequency bands for 5G networks:

  • 5G High Band (mmWave) provides the highest frequency for 5G. These range from 24 GHz to about 100 GHz. High-band 5G is inherently short-range because high frequencies cannot easily pass through obstacles. Additionally, mmWave coverage is limited, requiring more cellular infrastructure.
  • 5G mid-band operates in the 2-6 GHz range and provides capacity layers for urban and suburban areas. Peak rates in this band are in the hundreds of Mbps.
  • 5G low-band operates below 2 GHz and provides broad coverage. This band uses available spectrum that is currently available for 4G LTE, essentially providing the LTE 5g architecture for 5G devices that are now ready. As a result, low-band 5G performs similarly to 4G LTE and supports the use of 5G devices on the market today.

In addition to application requirements for spectrum availability and distance and bandwidth considerations, operators must also consider the power requirements of 5G, as typical 5G base station designs require more than twice the power of 4G base stations.



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