Network densification will depend on traffic need, carrier capability
Nokia: ‘Network densification key to enable 5G to deliver on the promise extreme speeds, ultra-low latency’
While network densification is critical to truly deliver the benefits promised by 5G, like low latency and speed, it will not be heavily needed everywhere. According to Nokia’s Global Head of Mobile Networks Marketing Sandro Tavares, each city and neighborhood will have its own traffic needs, and further, each carrier will utilize the tools available to them to build the right 5G network for that area.
However, as Tavares told RCR Wireless News, appropriate network densification will prove necessary to those looking to provide a consistent and reliable 5G experience.
Q: Why is network densification so critical to 5G development?
Tavares: Densification is key to enable 5G to deliver on the promise extreme speeds and ultra-low latency. To be able to deliver the multi-Gbps speeds, 5G utilizes higher frequencies than in previous technologies. These frequencies, in the centimeter-wave and millimeter-wave ranges, provide a wider bandwidth which make it possible for the 5G networks to deliver very high broadband speeds.
However, the radio propagation at these frequencies is more difficult, which leads to each cell site being able to cover a smaller area. With that, to be able to build ultra-high speed 5G coverage, carriers will likely need to add more sites, both outdoor and indoor. Note that carriers will also need to use their lower frequencies (sub-6 GHz) to build an efficient 5G service, combining the speeds enabled by cmWave and mmWave with the better propagation of the lower frequencies.
Q: What else, other than network densification, does it take to provide and consistent and reliable 5G experience?
Tavares: The most important points are having good frequency assets in all parts of the spectrum, enabling the proper coordination of coverage, capacity and network speeds, a strong radio access solution supporting advanced functionalities like massive MIMO to make the most out of the available spectrum, a cloud infrastructure that has the capacity and flexibility to run the 5G network functions and supporting value-added applications that the customers will want to use and a clear business plan to bring the real 5G benefits to consumer and enterprises.
Q: How must fiber systems evolve to accommodate 5G?
Tavares: Fiber is a key 5G enabler. Considering that we will have more sites and that 5G core assets will be more distributed across the network on 5G SA, fiber technologies will be extremely important to connect this network together. Fiber will need to be taken to more locations to connect this densified 5G network and ideally should also be used to provide end user fixed broadband services, improving the utilization rate.
Q: What are some of the new use cases for cellular that will put the most stress on our networks?
Tavares: For consumers, gaming will be a great opportunity, but it is also a huge bandwidth consumer. Carriers will need to optimize the network architecture to provide a great gaming experience without wasting network resources. On the Enterprise side, we do expect that cloud robotics, specially associated with manufacturing automation will be a huge opportunity and also a big undertaking. The combination of video analytics and ultra-low latency manufacturing control applications will demand a lot from the network both on throughput and latency.
Nevertheless, the 5G architecture is designed with these requirements in mind and the industry will have tools like network slicing and edge computing, among others, to address these needs.
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