Vish Nandlall - Challenges of 5G

The fifth generation of mobile telecommunications technology (5G) is growing closer to becoming a commercial reality. As industry leaders continue to adapt to the increasing demands and expectations of mobile device users, their collective perception of 5G has continued to grow, resulting in a fledgling idea of which innovations will result in the best user experience.

However, as 5G’s growing potential becomes clearer, so does a list of potential challenges that may arise as a result of its inception. Here are several challenges that may need to be addressed as 5G transitions into the new norm for modern telecommunications.

 

Testing

According to rcrwireless.com, 5G networks are expected to provide “ultra-fast speeds, ultra-low latency and massive capacity as well as to utilize millimeter wave spectrum.” While these features sound promising in terms of performance deliverables, they will also require extensive testing to ensure that they will reflect projections and meet expectations. All of these unique forms of testing come with subsequent challenges. For example, 5G’s implementation will hinge on a strong “understanding of the millimeter wave channel environment,” begging the need for a continuous learning process pertaining to this environment’s capabilities.

Fortunately, 5G testing will be able to be completed within an adapted and evolved 4G network, giving testers an advantage over those responsible with 4G testing (4G testing was forced to be conducted in a standalone network, separate from 3G).

 

 

Shorter wavelengths

As alluded to in the previous section, the millimeter wave channel environment stands as a significant focal point related to 5G’s potential. The problem with this environment, in most cases, is that as waves get shorter, their range decreases and they become much more sensitive to obstacles such as walls and natural factors. A major challenge facing telecom leaders is how to balance these issues with the notion of faster, more efficient performance for 5G users.

 

 

Costs

Furthermore, 5G testing and projections remained grounded in a variety of financial challenges. As far as fixed wireless installation costs, itbusinessedge.com points out that “if technicians must be dispatched to homes, the expected cost savings of 5G fixed wireless will be reduced.” However, it is currently unknown as to whether or not 5G fixed wireless users will be able to perform this process themselves or with the aid of a technician.

Additionally, 5G testing equipment has proven to be a financial obstacle, as this equipment has been described as “bulky, expensive, and fragile.” As a result, testing sessions — which can require extensive observation — have been limited since the equipment cannot handle long term exposure to the elements. This issue has stunted testing progress as engineers work to draw conclusions on 5G performance and durability.