Driving Network Convergence for 5G
Embedded Computing Design – 2020.07.09
By Robin Mersh, CEO at Broadband Forum
‘Over the past several years, 5G has transformed from a concept spoken about at conferences to reality with numerous deployments being rolled out across the globe. The technology will completely change the communications landscape, paving the way for new revenues and services that were not previously possible. By the end of 2020, it is predicted there will be more than 258 million 5G connections, and by 2023 more than 1 billion connected worldwide.
For operators, the growth in 5G connectivity has the potential to be extremely lucrative. In 2020, worldwide 5G wireless network infrastructure revenue will reach $4.2 billion, an 89% increase from 29 revenue of $2.2 billion, according to Gartner, Inc. This is because as 5G becomes more available to consumers and businesses, IoT products that require this level of connectivity will grow in popularity, such as autonomous cars and devices for smart cities. The low latency and high capacity will not only enable new devices to the market but also enhance existing service value and revenues.
However, while the benefits may be innumerable, so are the challenges that come with deploying 5G. Network traffic is already growing, but the introduction of 5G will create a massive surge as new applications and services come to the market. Healthcare, education and many other industries are likely to take advantage of the numerous benefits the latest technology can bring – all putting increasing pressure on existing infrastructure. Considerable changes must be made to networks to keep up with this demand, with the transport network being of utmost importance.
To deliver a global mass rollout of 5G operators, a massive enhancement of the transport network is needed. This is a result of the significant increase in capacity 5G will bring – including an estimated doubling of radio sites deployed and a new architecture with new Radio Access Network (RAN) and Core interfaces. These new architectures and new interfaces each have specific criteria that must be met.
At the same time, new radio access technologies such as mmWave and Massive MIMO will impose higher capacity, lower latency, and new traffic flows such as fronthaul and mid-haul, along with stricter timing and sychronization requirements. This will further add to the strain on the transport network, while new services are expected to require the network to deliver tighter delay and loss bounds.
Finally, disaggregation in both the RAN and core network is expected to have a further effect on the transport network architecture.’