Promises of 5G Advanced, an evolution accelerated by artificial intelligence

While you may still be wondering what 5G is for other than draining your smartphone battery, the industry is gearing up for the future. In June 2024, 3GPP, the body that sets the standards, features, and specifications for next-generation mobile networks, will release version 18 of the 5G standard. This corresponds to the beginning of what is called “5G Advanced”, which should materialize, this time in a very visible way, all the promises of 5G. With improvements in speed, latency, network management and power consumption.

“5G Advanced represents a revolutionary potential for networks that equipment manufacturers and operators will want to promote,” said Peter Jaric, director of GSMA Intelligence, on the occasion of MWC 2023. Manufacturers have pledged to make mobile communications in Barcelona. show the launch of this new generation of 5G. We must satisfy the visitors’ appetite for novelty.

Qualcomm, as usual, took the lead with the introduction of its Snapdragon X75 modem, the world’s first “5G Advanced ready” chip, with first devices likely to hit the market in late 2023. The Chinese equipment manufacturer calls – he is the only one – 5.5G. In the past, the name “advanced” was translated as “+”, and “LTE Advanced” became “4G+”.

5G but better

“5G Advanced is a technological evolution that includes both new use cases and the network mechanisms to support them with a superior customer experience. These new use cases apply to both B2C and B2B for M2M, but especially in the context of Industry 4.0. associated with lower latency, higher speeds and new terminals. It’s a continuation of 5G, but more efficient,” explains Philippe Mouton, CTO of Nokia Mobile Networks Europe.

In terms of speeds, the maximum theoretical speed target is 10Gbps for 5G Advanced, compared to 1Gbps for 5G. “What will make a difference for consumer use cases is download speeds that can reach 20 Mbps, guaranteed for everyone, even on a busy network,” clarifies the CTO. symmetrically, even if many people are connected at the same time in the same cells. This will allow us to scale this symmetry between download and upload speeds, which will be very useful for games, for example. But, of course, terminals need to be prepared for these events with batteries that can take a hit.”

Ten times less latency

Huawei also promises a 1:10 ratio to improve IoT connectivity (thanks to “passive” batteryless terminals that will extend RFID-type technologies to hundreds of meters), latency without packet loss, and carbon emissions.

“In terms of latency, the overall goal is to guarantee less than 10 milliseconds for everyone in dense urban areas. This is already possible in 5G, but for multiple users and in light networks,” Philippe Mouton explains. The general public will benefit, for example, from virtual reality, and the control of autonomous robots moving through factories will become more efficient. Especially since 5G Advanced also promises ultra-precise location capabilities with 10 cm accuracy, which is not possible with GPS today, especially indoors. Enough, for example, to avoid collisions between man and machine.

At MWC, Nokia presented a proof of concept deployed with Bosch at a plant in Germany for 5G-based precision positioning technology. Tests showed an accuracy of 50cm in 90% of the factory. Ericsson has unveiled new solutions for indoor 5G coverage, including a new precision positioning feature for finding tools in factories or mines, and for public safety.

When networks meet AI

5G Advanced is also the advent of artificial intelligence in mobile networks. “5G Advanced is a collaboration between AI and 5G,” Qualcomm explained. The Snapdragon X75 uses artificial intelligence techniques to optimize signal processing. Nokia and NTT Docomo demonstrated how machine learning can be integrated into the air interface to give future antennas “learning capability”.

With these learning methods, 5G Advanced networks will be able to sort through the different types of transmitted data in order to tailor the tools to needs. Specifically, for example, for XR, this means that some of the resources needed to run applications can be deported to the network, and therefore terminals can be miniaturized and consume less power.

Strong potential for business customers

Philippe Mouton explains that for the transition from 5G to 5G Advanced, the hardware upgrade will be software. For a hardware maker like Nokia, this new generation of networks opens up new business opportunities. The Finnish company, which presented its new strategy at MWC, is now positioning itself as a “leader in B2B technology innovation” and intends to “increase the share of the business segment in the structure of its customers.”

The potential of the “industrial metaverse”, for example, using digital twins, is increased tenfold thanks to the new possibilities of future networks. “Digital twins make it possible to automatically simulate new production processes much faster than by conducting research or using a plant transformation model,” explains Philippe Mouton. Nokia, in particular, is involved in digital twin projects with ASN in Calais, a wind farm in Saint-Nazaire and Schneider for its factory of the future.

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