5G Will Light Up Your Alley

Can you already see it – the astonishing shadow of 5G approaching behind the corner? Moving faster than light and carrying data larger than the moon, the next-generation mobile communications are foreseen to enable new products and services that have not even been envisioned yet.

November 2, 2017 | 5G
©Sitowise/LuxTurrim5G
©Sitowise/LuxTurrim5G

Even more, the way we live, work and behave will be revolutionized. In short, 5G will throw mobile communications into the rare crowd of General Purpose Technologies (GPTs) such as the steam engine, the automobile and the computer.

Yes, the hype has been going on for years and we have heard it a zillion times. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t be asking ourselves if it will happen, but rather when.

As one important building block to achieve the targeted 1000-fold capacity increase compared to existing technologies, 5G networks will make use of higher frequencies in the millimeter-wave (mmW) range. These new millimeter-wave frequency bands, such as the 73-GHz band, allow the use of much higher bandwidths which in turn enables the very high data rates.

Imagine it like this: 4G is a two-lane country road while 5G is a combination of Autobahn and the Shinkansen railways.

The script is ready, now we just need to start shooting.

And troubleshooting.

The challenge? How do we realize reliable millimeter-wave wireless communication while simultaneously fulfilling the requirements for energy efficiency? The reason why this question is causing an ample amount of headache is due to the severe losses experienced by the higher frequencies compared to the current ones. This is especially important from the material point of view, since the material losses decrease the battery life time and limit the network coverage. Thus, the focus of the RF material manufacturers should shift towards millimeter-wave frequencies much like the mobile industry did over a half a decade earlier.

Yet, one can observe that the supply and demand do not meet: RF engineers hunger for material specifications at millimeter-waves, while material suppliers characterize their materials mainly at microwaves.

To overcome a part of this communication mismatch and to build concrete enablers for the future smart cities, a cross-disciplinary project called LuxTurrim5G has recently been kicked off. The aim of the project is to develop and demonstrate technical solutions for a smart lamp post-based 5G infrastructure along with related business and service innovations. The lamp posts will include integrated small-size 5G base stations, climate sensors, cameras and screens.

And yes, probably a bit of lighting too.

Besides the technical content, also the network planning, building, managing and costs will be studied. The project partners include ten companies (Nokia Bell Labs, SITO, Exel Composites, Premix, Lammin Ikkunat, Vaisala, Teleste, Indagon, C2 Smart Light, Spinverse) and three research institutes (VTT, Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Aalto University), and is funded by the companies and the Finnish funding agency for innovation TEKES.

Testing 5G infrastructure and millimeter-wave networks is not novel as such. All the major network vendors have conducted trials and demonstrated multi-gigabit data speeds in millimeter-wave bands. What makes LuxTurrim5G an excellent platform for innovations is its multi-disciplinary nature and the fact that the network is studied from both a technical as well as a business perspective. Besides, can we ever have too much insights regarding possible bottlenecks in the society of tomorrow?

Dr. Jan Järveläinen

RF Technology Manager, D.Sc. (Tech)
I'm the RF man. I take care of strategic projects related to 5G and radars, and try to solve challenges related to customer applications. I am also passionate about material measurements, tech blogging and marketing. Previously I have worked as a researcher at Aalto University studying mmWave propagation for 5G scenarios.

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