The challenges awaiting the EU as a shift towards 5G nears are numerous, with studies ongoing across a range of fields. An Irish-based research team is helping out.
Frequencies, bandwidth and connectivity are three words that will become ever present in the coming months as the introduction and gradual widespread adoption of 5G begins to take place.
A world away from what has come before it, 5G will reshape how our connected devices operate and interact, marking the biggest shift in this area since the internet emerged.
To help with this, a research team at the Connect Centre at Trinity College Dublin has been awarded €560,000 as part of a €5m EU Horizon 2020 project investigating approaches to faster wireless internet speeds.
Moving the wireless field on from what he calls “theoretical simulations”, Prof Luiz DaSilva, principal investigator at Connect, hopes the project – called Orca (Orchestration and Reconfiguration Control Architecture) – will see tangible experiments come to fruition.
“This research is urgent,” said DaSilva in The Irish Times. “The internet is already under immense pressure as it struggles to cope with user demand.
“The growing popularity of internet television and on-demand video means wireless technology must find new ways of delivering much faster speeds.”
Last October, Da Silva chaired a debate on communications and how industry is encouraged to develop solutions for the future; highlighting profits and energy costs of telecoms infrastructure as two dominant themes. Without scientific research into what’s viable, 5G will struggle.
“Current resource management mechanisms in wireless networks are inadequate to deal with extreme (ultra-low latency, ultra-high throughput, ultra-high reliability) and diverging (low and high data rate, time-critical and non-time-critical) communication needs,” he said.
“Interesting evolutions are happening at different levels and this is enabling the creation of parallel on-demand wireless network slices, optimised for a specific set of requirements.”
Project Orca is designed to support the EU-wide plan to get 100Mbps download speeds into all households, with 5G commercially rolled out by the end of the decade.
In the early 2000s when 3G came to mobile, it boasted broadband-like speeds and amazing superpowers. Instead, 3G was a slow burner and only today is it the lynchpin of reasonable connectivity speeds on mobile devices.
After this, 4G was given a speed impetus through the refarming of spectrum around the 700MHz and 800MHz regions, which were formerly used for TV signals. Dependent on big cells to get fast download speeds into homes, it is a world away from what 5G proposes.
Speed is one thing, layering the connectivity options is something completely different. Many more cells (smaller ones, housed in street signage or on roofs, for example) will instead offer far more acute connectivity – this is designed to support the soon-to-be omnipresent internet of things.
This will mean faster speeds, and more devices communicating with high bit rates but with low latency and low power.