Demystifying 5G Technology: Understanding 5G NR, NSA vs SA, and Use Case Introduction
Since its rollout in 2019, 5G has become the standard for telecom players worldwide. As the fifth generation of mobile networks, 5G connects people, objects, machines, and devices. Compared to previous wireless technologies, 5G offers higher throughput, lower latency, and increased reliability. In industrial and business settings, 5G enables faster and more secure networks, empowering businesses to enhance operational productivity and precision. To demystify the secret of 5G, let's start by understanding its foundation.
The development of 5G standards began as early as 2015 by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). The specification was released by the end of 2017. 5G NR (new radio) is the radio access technology used in 5G networks. It operates in two frequency ranges: frequency range 1 (400MHz to 7GHz) and frequency range 2 in the mmWave region (24 to 71GHz). Many current 5G deployments utilize the sub-6 region (450MHz to 6GHz) due to its ease of deployment, wider coverage area, and longer transmission distance. The mmWave region, while offering greater bandwidth and lower latency, faces challenges in deploying many base stations due to its shorter wavelength and limited penetration compared to the sub-6 spectrum.
5G also leverages MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) technology to provide high throughput and robust signal reception. Massive MIMO increases overall connectivity and enhances speeds at 5G base stations. Combined with beamforming, which directs transmission data both horizontally and vertically toward user devices, massive MIMO improves network performance. As the world of 5G expands with more players, providers are exploring different deployment strategies that align with their specific network needs.
NSA vs SA in 5G Networks
Since many providers are migrating to the world of 5G, they need to upgrade their radio access technology, which includes upgrading the cell and core from 4G to 5G. However, due to the speedy deployment of the 5G NR and the early stages of 5G technology, service providers often need to deploy 5G in coexistence with LTE. Therefore, 3GPP has come out with different ways to facilitate a smooth transition from 4G LTE to 5G.
These can be categorized into two modes: Non-standalone mode (NSA) and standalone mode (SA). In the NSA, operators deploy 5G gNB nodes that connect to the existing 4G EPC core through 4G eNB nodes. In this architecture, there is no need for a separate 5G core since the 5G gNB nodes rely on the 4G core network for control information. This offers service providers a cost-effective and expeditious path to roll out 5G by leveraging their existing 4G infrastructure. Moreover, when a new 5G spectrum is introduced, it enhances the capacity and bandwidth within the network.
While NSA offers certain advantages, such as Multi-RAT Dual Connectivity (MR-DC) for higher throughput, service providers must eventually move towards standalone mode (SA) to fully realize the potential of 5G and improve the energy efficiency of the 4G infrastructure. In SA mode, all the eNB nodes are replaced by gNB, and the EPC is migrated to the 5G core. This enables the deployment of new services and uses cases, including smart factories, network slicing, and Voice over New Radio (VoNR). SA mode significantly enhances the end-user experience by providing lower latency, which is crucial for time-critical communications like factory automation and autonomous vehicle operation. Additionally, it improves overall network efficiency.
By aggregating a 5G low-band with mid-band frequency, the coverage can be improved by 2.5 times and the population supported by mid-band will increase by 25%. These benefits provide incentives for service providers to migrate to SA from NSA when they are ready for the opportunities of new solutions and applications.
Use Cases for 5G Technology
5G technology enables new applications that the previous generation of cellular networks can never attain. 3GPP has defined these use cases into three main categories: Enhanced Mobile Broadband(eMBB), Massive Machine Type Communications(mMTC), and Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications(URLLC).
The eMBB category represents the groundbreaking applications that 5G brings to the market. It revolutionizes mobile video streaming, as well as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences, by ensuring higher bandwidth in the gigabit range. Moreover, it caters to the need for a large capacity to support a high-speed connection, accommodating multiple device connections to 5G. Additionally, eMBB prioritizes high mobility, allowing seamless streaming of HD videos on the go.
mMTC serves as a catalyst for connecting numerous devices within a specific area. It enables connectivity for up to 1 million devices per square kilometer, ensuring efficient data transfer with low data rates and minimal power consumption. Factories, for instance, can leverage this architecture by implementing sensors to enhance production efficiency and quality. Real-time data collection facilitates operational improvement and efficient traffic management in smart grid systems. The mMTC supports connecting many devices in a given area, up to 1 million devices per square kilometer, at a low-data rate and power consumption. Factories may implement such architecture through sensors to enhance production efficiency and quality. Real-time data can be collected to improve the standard of operation as well as manage traffic in the smart grid.
URLLC is designed to meet the demands of mission-critical communications, such as autonomous vehicles and remote surgery. It requires a system with ultra-low latency of as low as 1 ms and up to 99.999% reliability. These low latency characteristics enable real-time data processing and analysis, leading to enhanced operational efficiency. For example, in remote surgery, appliances used in hospitals can provide doctors with real-time statistics and analysis. Real-time data can also be efficiently provided in an SA network that supports network slicing, ensuring optimal allocation of resources.
The advancements in speed, capacity, latency, and reliability brought by 5G technology create abundant opportunities for various applications. Already, we are witnessing the realization of high-speed mobile networks and the immersive experiences of AR/VR using the sub-6 spectrum.
As the mmWave spectrum becomes available, even more, use cases that require low latency will come to fruition. This presents a promising future for 5G. To support this growth, UfiSpace offers a range of powerful routers, including the S9500, S9600, and S9700 Series. These routers adopt open disaggregated methodologies and comply with the 5G standard. They provide cable operators with high-capacity platforms, ranging from 1G to 400G, enabling them to support 5G mobile backhaul and efficiently manage a larger number of subscriptions. Moreover, these routers feature multiple timing interfaces (GNSS, ToD, 1PPS, and 10MHz) and support IEEE 1588v2 as well as SyncE with Class C timing accuracy. This ensures precise timing for aggregating traffic within the cable network.
With UfiSpace's innovative routers and the continuous evolution of 5G, the potential for transformative applications and services is boundless. Service providers can confidently embrace the opportunities presented by 5G technology and deliver seamless and reliable connectivity to their customers.
For details about how UfiSpace's innovative solutions and routers, please contact our sales team.