Higher bandwidth…lower power…sub-10-ms latency—these are the promises of 5G wireless. Its smaller cell size is a challenge, though, since more cells and matching equipment are required to cover an area. Piggybacking 5G on 4G towers requires additional nodes throughout the area.
5G smartphones will be the driving factor for technology. However, IoT devices and other applications such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) will be taking advantage of 5G’s features.
Test tools and precision timing measurement and support will be key to creating 5G products. Many of these tools are already available, but refinement and updates will bring about compliance for the final standards.
Sean D’Arcy, Director of Aerospace and Defense at Analog Devices, says “Before 5G becomes available on a global scale, RF technologies will meet critical checkpoints in performance. Of great importance is the availability of spectrum, whether it be low-, mid-, or high-band. In sub-6-GHz, the coverage layer will be built on massive MIMO using existing infrastructure followed by densification. Small-cell deployments will be more critical to 5G rollout taking advantage of the higher frequencies.”
Piyush Sevalia, Executive Vice President of Marketing for SiTime, notes “In 2019, we will see growing interest in 5G timing advances in tandem with the growth of 5G deployment. Therefore, MEMS timing solutions will proliferate as they bring unique benefits that are not offered by traditional timing solutions. In particular, the 5G and communications, automotive, and IoT markets will greatly benefit from the size, reliability, and performance of SiTime’s MEMS timing solutions.
“In networking and communications, timing and synchronization is essential to the entire system. The resiliency of MEMS timing provides unfailing performance that is critical for the deployment of 5G as it rolls out into less-controlled, harsher environments. The same need for reliability and dynamic performance is driving the growing use of MEMS resonators in automotive, where systems must operate dependably in challenging conditions. In IoT, MEMS timing provides small size, low weight, and low power.”
While 5G offers opportunities and new features, it will be existing 3G and 4G/LTE technology that will drive IoT, IIoT, and Industry 4.0 solutions in the coming year. LTE-M and NB-IoT support is available now with modems that handle multiple protocols. Cellular licensing is also becoming more flexible.
Cellular solutions provide many benefits, including wide coverage, but there are many alternatives that may be more suitable for a range of applications. These include long-range, low-power, unlicensed band wireless solutions like LoRaWAN and Sigfox.
The majority of IoT applications don’t require high-speed connectivity. LTE-M can deliver 1 Mb/s while the other available options are much slower. 5G will allow significantly higher throughput, opening up new applications.