The promise of 5G

Expected in 2020, the 5th generation of mobile communication is paving the way for improved performance. Trials are ongoing, for example in Sweden with Axians.


Fifth generation technology promises to revolutionise not just the telecommunications environment and our daily lives, but also the world of industry and services. Expected to reach us in 2020, 5G should be capable of technical feats that will deliver new services in the telemedicine, robotics, and driverless car sectors, among others. Virtual and augmented reality applications, which require high bandwidth, will become commonplace.

With IoT, the massive amount of data generated will need to be analysed in real time. 5G and its near-zero latency will make this possible.

Tests conducted by Orange and Ericsson have produced speeds of 10 or even 20 gigabits per second and latency of about 1 millisecond, which means almost instantaneous data transmission.

Network slicing

To achieve this level of performance, 5G will use high frequencies (above 6 GHz compared with 900 MHz for 3G and 2.6 GHz for 4G), making it possible to use new technologies like beamforming, where the signal is concentrated and aimed at the target, and beam tracking, where radio waves converge towards the position of the mobile. “This way, everyone has their own ‘mini-cell’ that follows them wherever they go and that offers them an optimum speed,” says a Bouygues Telecom expert.

Telecoms operators will need to swap their current 2 m-high antennas for arrays of smaller square-shaped antennas. Networks will also move towards network slicing technology, where slices of virtual networks are allocated to meet demands.

Truck platooning

Axians Sweden is working on 5G with Ericsson, and has supplied it with two installations as part of a project with heavy goods vehicle manufacturer Scania and the Royal Institute of Technology.

The first installation was erected on the roof of Scania’s R&D centre in Södertälje. “It will give Ericsson and Scania a better grasp of the needs involved in implementing platoons of trucks travelling at the same speed and at intervals of a few metres so as to use less fuel, and in ensuring that these connected vehicles mutually communicate,” explains Kimon Konstantinidis, director of Axians Sweden.

Secondly, Axians has installed a 5G site in Järva with a tower-mounted antenna support. The site will be used by Ericsson, Scania, and the Royal Institute of Technology to explore future road transport solutions such as driverless buses and traffic management systems.

“There is strong demand for this type of technology both from consumers and businesses,” says Kimon Konstantinidis. “With the Internet of Things, the massive amount of data generated will need to be analysed in real time. 5G and its near-zero latency will make this possible.” But before that happens, devices such as smartphones and tablets will need to be capable of receiving these ultra-fast transmissions, which isn’t yet the case.

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