Globen im Schaufenster
5G goes far beyond mobile communications and integrates existing networks in a highly dynamic »network of networks«. Matthias Heyde/ Fraunhofer FOKUS

#Berlin5GWeek – Truths and myths about the new super-technology

News from Nov. 01, 2016

Press Release – #Berlin5GWeek is taking place from October 31 to November 4, 2016, at the Fraunhofer Forum. At this international meeting, experts from the fields of science, business and politics will discuss the technological prerequisites and potential applications for this new super-standard. Starting in 2020, 5G should deliver top speeds, integrate heterogeneous networks, connect billions of devices and sensors, and respond in a mobile, agile way to various requirements.

But what can 5G really do? It's time to take stock:

“Above all, 5G means more network intelligence – i.e., dynamic network management – so new network functions can be positioned and installed in the network as needed,” said Professor Thomas Magedanz, head of the Software-based Networks business unit of Fraunhofer FOKUS. 5G combines the latest mobile technologies with fixed access networks in a virtualized – i.e., software-based – network world. Virtualization makes the network more intelligent by enabling it to adapt in a dynamic, differentiated way to the requirements of various applications, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), massive multimedia or critical infrastructures (electricity, water, etc.). To support customers now in the development of 5G products, Fraunhofer FOKUS is offering a 5G Playground – a test environment in which network operators, manufacturers and IT companies can already try out new, convergent 5G network architectures and 5G services. “This is possible because you can create realistic prototypes of the main characteristics of the future network using software, long before 5G has been completely standardized. The standards will emerge gradually based on practical experience,” Thomas Magedanz said.

The 5G Playground is part of Berlin's 5G Test Field, an initiative of the Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research. Senator Cornelia Yzer said, “With the 5G Test Field Berlin initiative, we want to secure a leading position for Berlin in the competition for 5G capitals with the USA and Asia by offering the first test field in the public sphere for the new standard. We think it is important to work with the Fraunhofer Institutes and our partners Deutsche Telekom and Nokia to take 5G out of the laboratory and test it in a real environment, such as Ernst-Reuter-Platz. Then companies can also demonstrate the feasibility of their innovative solutions in practice.”

According to the EU's 5G Action Plan, the first preliminary tests for the 5G rollout should take place in 2017. The rollout of the first 5G pilot networks is planned for the end of 2018. Commercial 5G services should be available by the end of 2020. All larger urban environments and major transportation routes should have seamless 5G coverage by 2025.

When 5G is deployed in 2020, it should offer the following benefits:

  • data rates 100 times higher than today's LTE networks (up to 10,000 MBit/s),
  • subscriber and device capacity that is around 1,000 times higher,
  • 100 billion mobile devices connected at the same time worldwide,
  • extremely low application-specific latency times of under 1 millisecond,
  • higher availability in terms of coverage and reliability.

For private users, this will bring improvements to video and music streaming, for example, which are currently only possible at low speeds. Even in a normal intercity train, the connection is often lost. 5G should make streaming possible even in high-speed trains (up to 500 km/h) and planes (up to 1000 km/h). Other important applications could include mobile video in self-driving cars or augmented reality. The hype surrounding Pokémon GO showed that there is great potential here. Augmented reality could be one of the killer apps for 5G.

But because 5G goes far beyond mobile communications and actually integrates existing networks in a highly dynamic “network of networks”, the main applications are not solely in the private sphere, but rather largely in the commercial one. Three distinct application clusters are emerging here, each of which lead to different network characteristics. One area is the Internet of Things (IoT). A large number of end devices (sensors, sensor clusters) need simultaneous access to the network for this. Mission-critical and ultra-reliable networks are another area. These are used for disaster control, for example, or for controlling critical infrastructures such as the electricity grid. Networks such as these require high security standards, a high quality of service (QoS) and low latency times. There are different requirements again for massive multimedia (video streaming, virtual and augmented reality). High bandwidths are needed here most of all. Through network intelligence and virtualization, 5G can meet the requirements of every application.

More information about international developments, technical infrastructure requirements, areas of application and frequency assignments can be found in the attached document: “Truths and myths about the new super-technology”.