The next generation of mobile technology, 5G, is a significant step into the unknown. To deliver higher data rates, new technologies and frequency bands are being tried; and to enable new revenue streams, virtualized and sliced networks will aim to provide specific levels of quality of service. Nobody knows quite how these will work in the complex environment of city-center networks and as traffic levels build as 5G becomes increasingly adopted. Monitoring, adjusting and optimizing will be critical. The only viable and trusted approach to monitoring will be using crowdsourced data from companies like Tutela.
The requirements of successful 5G
In order to deliver higher data rates 5G needs to use wide bandwidth channels. These can only be found in higher frequency bands so 5G will use 3.5GHz as its primary spectrum - a frequency significantly higher than used previously with resulting low range. To mitigate the short range, technologies such as beam-forming, or massive MIMO antennas will attempt to focus the radio energy towards the subscriber. The range and performance actually achieved will have huge implications for the utility of 5G and the costs of deploying it.
The role of crowdsourced data
Crowdsourced data can show exactly where the 5G frequencies are being used and the effective range and coverage being achieved. The data can highlight the performance achieved including download speed and latency, and can reveal issues with cell extension, handover and other planning problems. By comparing data across multiple operators and multiple countries, best-in-class operation can be determined and lessons learnt from those who have overcome key challenges. Crowdsourced data can also reveal the speed of deployment of each operator providing critical competitive intelligence on a technology for which the business case remains uncertain and hence the appropriate speed and scale of investment subject to huge uncertainty. While each operator could derive data on its own network using conventional techniques, only crowdsourcing allows comparison across multiple operators and ease of analysis using standardized optimization systems.
5G and new technologies
A second novelty of 5G is the ability to deliver differentiated services to different users or applications, with some having higher quality of service (QoS) such as higher data rates, lower latency or reduced blocking when congested. A user paying more for a premium service will want to verify that they are getting the quality expected. The only certain way to do this is at the handset, with the applications that are running measuring critical parameters. This is precisely how Tutela’s crowdsourcing data works with measurement modules embedded within a range of applications. By sourcing the data from across the user community, Tutela can determine the performance provided and show how it compares to other services. Because crowdsourced information is independent it can be used by both operator and end-user as part of a contract for service. Indeed, only crowdsourced data can provide this independent and user-oriented verification and is therefore a critical element of the 5G business case.
It has also been suggested that 5G might be used for applications such as providing guidance and control of autonomous cars. If this is to be viable, 5G coverage along all roads will need to be consistently available and of high quality. Crowdsourced data can be used to determine available coverage for such applications, allowing regulators, automotive manufacturers and operators to make informed decisions as to when 5G networks have reached sufficient maturity. Using conventional approaches such coverage information is only available to the operators themselves meaning other key players will be missing crucial insights.
Making the most of 5G
5G networks are already being trialed and will be deployed in 2019. 5G will be the focus of the industry for many years with intense scrutiny on its new technologies, services and business cases. Crowdsourced data is crucial to its successful introduction and hence companies such as Tutela who are able to provide these insights in a flexible and intelligent manner will see their data move from beneficial to crucial.
Written by Professor William Webb
|William is one of the leading voices in the wireless industry, having literally written the book on 5G technology. As a consultant for Tutela, William helps to shape our business solutions for mobile operators, ensuring our technology is able to make the biggest impact to real world user experience. Find me on LinkedIn