Introduction to 5G

When we talk about 5G, we are referring to the fifth generation of mobile telephony. As they were in their day from 1G to 4G. But while the development of 3G and 4G was driven by phone operators and mobile devices 5G focuses on IoT applications, and its main users include cities and factory settings, for example.

Its main improvements compared to other technologies are the connection speed that will be increased, latency (web response time) will be reduced to a minimum and the number of connected devices will be multiplied exponentially.

This new technology promises great things due to its large data transmission band, data transfer with low power consumption and almost non-existent latency, it will make completely new types of IoT applications a reality in the coming years.

One of the fields for which the development of this new technology has been most promoted is medicine, specifically, by telesurgery, since if we do not depend on the surgeon having to be in the same place as the operating room, it could offer surgical assistance much faster and in practically any place in the world.


The first radio networks operating on the basis of cell division, i.e. areas controlled by individual base stations, were established in the early 1980s in the USA (called AMPS) and in the Scandinavian countries (called NMT). The system initially used the 450MHz band, but after reaching its maximum capacity, an upgraded version using the 900MHz band was launched.

1G networks used the frequency division multiple access (FDMA) principle. This means that a radio channel is made available to the terminal as a slice of the frequency band, typically 25 or 30 kHz, for the duration of the call.

However, this method of using the radio channel was inefficient, since as more users initiated telephone calls, the capacity of the base station was depleted.

Unlike 1G networks, in a 2G system the transmitted information is first converted into digital form.

The first mechanism is voice compression, whereby the digital recording of a conversation sent over the radio channel requires less data for transmission than an uncompressed signal.

The second mechanism is to split the digital signal transmitted by users into fragments and transmit them cyclically over the radio channel. The use of this access method, known as TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access), has led to a significant increase in the number of users using radio access in a given frequency band.

The biggest changes compared to the 2G network were introduced on the radio side. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as the organisation set up to normalise and regulate the global telecommunications and radio market, allocated frequency bands for use in 3G networks: 790-960 MHz, 1710-2025 MHz, 2110-2200 MHz, 2300Mhz-2400 MHz and 2500MHz-2600MHz.

3G networks also used a different radio access method than GSM, which allowed even more users to be served and higher data rates to be offered.

Patronage over the development of this and subsequent mobile network standards was taken by the 3GPP (3G Partnership Project) agreement, which brings together the world's largest telecommunications standardisation organisations.

In late 2008 the 3GPP consortium developed the first version of the 4G LTE network standard, initially operating in the 1800 MHz band with channel bandwidths from 1.4 MHz to 20 MHz, including improved coding, optimised data rates and enhanced performance.

4G network transmission supports speeds of up to 150 Mbps for data transmission to the end user, and packet upload speeds of up to 50 Mbps. Therefore, the 4G LTE standard enables users to have high-speed wireless Internet access.

LTE-Advanced technology, which uses so-called band aggregation, i.e. the combination of several carrier frequencies in a wider channel, enables download speeds of up to 1 Gb/s and upload speeds of up to 500 Mbps.

Thanks to new technology, the 5G network responds to the growing demands of users, including the increasing number of devices, as well as the quality requirements imposed by applications.

It is an extension of the current 4G network and is characterised by solutions to handle both the rapidly increasing volume of data traffic and the need to exchange data between the growing number of Internet of Things devices.

As with all next generation networks deployed to date, it is assumed that until the coverage and capabilities offered by the legacy mobile network are in place, the 5G network will initially operate alongside the legacy mobile networks.


Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB)

Provides high-speed Internet access (in the order of 1 Gbps) and will be the main feature that distinguishes this generation of networks from previous ones, especially in the early stages of 5G deployment.

As a potential flagship use case for 5G, it will include, among others, services based on the delivery of high-resolution multimedia, engaging forms of communication (e.g. video chat, augmented and virtual reality) and services for smart cities (e.g. streaming of high-resolution camera images).

Machine massive type communications (mMTC)

5G will offer the connection of a large number of low-power devices, known as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to the mobile network.

Using the cellular network to communicate, these devices exchange data asynchronously.

In this scenario, it is assumed that many types of devices can be coupled, but what they have in common is the sporadic use of the mobile network and the exchange of small volumes of data.

Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC)

This technology will provide a minimum latency of 1 millisecond, enabling data exchange over the mobile network for critical applications (e.g. drone control or remote surgery).

In previous generations of mobile networks, the latency values achieved were longer, around 100 milliseconds in 3G networks and around 30 milliseconds in 4G (LTE) networks.

Frecuency bands

Low frecuency (LF) in 5G technology covers the frequency range - 694-790 MHz. Transmission in this band is characterised by good signal propagation and relatively low attenuation, allowing large areas to be covered. It is mainly used to build a coverage layer for services such as mMTC.

Medium frecuency (MF) covers the frequency ranges from 3.4 GHz to 3.8 GHz and offers the performance to support a large number of connected devices operating at the same time. Due to these characteristics, it is possible to use the band to provide coverage for an eMBB type service and it is possible to use the band for the implementation of mMTC/URLLC services, where reliable transmission of large amounts of real-time data (e.g. high resolution images) is required.

The high frequency (HF), which covers the frequency range above 24 GHz, is characterised by a very high bit rate and offers support for services requiring very low latency. Estimated ranges within this band range from 50 m to 500 m in open spaces, while in built-up areas they do not exceed 200 m. The HF band can be used mainly for transmission in the hotspot area of the eMBB service and in picocell applications of the cMTC/URLLC service.

New technologies

Multiple In, Multiple Out (MIMO): They are antennas made up of multiple elements to be able to send and receive more data, serving several users in the cell area at the same time.

Beam froming: Is a technology that allows (with the help of Massive MIMO technology antennas) to direct the radio signal only in the direction of the receiving device, and not to scatter it in all directions.

Multi-RAT (Multi-Radio Access Technology): This will mean that users, depending on their needs and the current network load, will be able to automatically obtain a connection using the optimal interface/interface at any given time (e.g. Wi-Fi, 4G, 3G.).


High Mobile Speed

A significant increase in mobile broadband capacity will be achieved along with speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s and peaks of 1 Gbit/s.

In addition, ultra-reliable and low latency communications, around 1 ms compared to 20-30 ms for 4G networks.

Remote Surgery

Interventions performed with high-quality 360° cameras and surgical robots that provide guidance and advice.

Also the use of tactile devices, such as gloves, that will allow the surgeon to navigate remotely and "feel" a patient being operated on from another location.

Internet Of Things

This means that virtually all devices will be connected to the Internet.

This will improve productivity in industry, healthcare, home comfort and safety, environmental protection, and virtually all areas of our society.

Self-driving Cars

Communication technologies between autonomous vehicles and between vehicles and the environment, i.e. traffic signs, bus stops or even the road itself will result in improved road safety.

They will also be able to evaluate routes in advance, avoiding congested areas and planning alternative travel routes.

Smart Cities

They are mainly based on spatial information processed in real time and affect many spheres of citizens' lives.

The main ones could be intelligent traffic management (real-time response to everyday events such as traffic congestion), optimization and monitoring of energy consumption and transmission, air pollution control, water quality, waste management, urban infrastructure management, healthcare or security.