5G Infrastructure

5G Infrastructure Definition

5G infrastructure refers to the network of macro- and small-cell base stations with edge computing capabilities that are required for the functionality of the fifth generation technology standard for cellular networks. 5G infrastructure provides low latency coverage for big data streams that power applications like IoT devices, semi-autonomous vehicles, and augmented reality.

5G Infrastructure diagram shows the speeds of various bandwidths relative to proximity of a nearby city.
Image from Digi


What is 5G Infrastructure?

5G network infrastructure consists of standalone 5G infrastructures, which have their own cloud-native network core that connects to 5G New Radio (NR) technology, and non-standalone (NSA) infrastructures, which still partially rely on existing 4G LTE infrastructure. Until network carriers are able to build out the independent infrastructure needed for 5G, the NSA approach uses a combination of 5G Radio Access Network (RAN), 5G NR interface, and existing LTE infrastructure and core network to provide a 5G-like experience.

Standalone 5G deployment consists of user equipment — the RAN and NR interface — and the 5G core network, which relies on a service-based architecture framework with virtualized network functions. Network functions that usually run on hardware become virtualized and run as software.

5G Infrastructure Components

The main hardware components of 5G technology infrastructure include 5G small cell infrastructure and RAN towers.

Small cell base stations, a major feature of 5G networks, are designed to blend in with the existing landscape, take up minimal real estate, and are distributed in clusters in device-dense areas to provide continuous connection and complement the macro network that provides wide-area coverage.

5G networks utilize millimeter waves (mmWave), which can carry more data faster, but only within a very short, unobstructed connection range. Small cell antennas are capable of transmitting and receiving these higher band radio frequencies. 5G macro cells use multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) antennas, which are deployed  in great numbers and enable more people to simultaneously connect to the network and maintain high sector throughput. 5G wireless mobile networks utilize small cells as well a vast quantity of underground fiber networks.

The 5G RAN element is best suited for less densely populated areas with more dispersed infrastructure and less network congestion. This is because 5G RAN focuses on lower-band radio frequencies, which carry less data, but cover a larger area.  

The 5G Core Network infrastructure, which manages all mobile voice, data, and internet connections, is being redesigned to efficiently integrate with Internet and cloud-based 5G services, and include distributed servers across the network to reduce latency.

How Much Will 5G Infrastructure Cost?

“Global 5G Infrastructure Market,” a 5G infrastructure report by Research and Markets that provides quantitative and qualitative analysis for the period from 2017 to 2025, predicts that the global 5G infrastructure market will grow with a CAGR of 64.1% between 2019 and 2025, with an estimated value of USD 1.9 billion in 2019. By the end of 2020, 5G infrastructure cost is expected to hit $2.7 trillion and investing in 5G infrastructure upgrades is estimated to cost around $1 trillion, according to Greensill.

In April of 2019, South Korea was the first country to adopt 5G on a large scale, with carriers using Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia, and Huawei base stations and 5G infrastructure equipment. Currently, 5G infrastructure companies include Altiostar, Cisco Systems, Datang Telecom/Fiberhome, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, and ZTE. Popular 5G applications include critical communications, enterprise networking, and industrial Internet of Things (IoT).

5G Infrastructure Challenges

There are five main challenges facing 5G infrastructure development:

  • Frequency: Wireless carriers must bid for higher spectrum bands in spectrum auctions as they build their 5G networks.
  • Deployment: While higher frequencies transmit more data, they are highly susceptible to physical interference; therefore a greater number of antennas and base stations must be installed in order to establish sufficient coverage. 
  • Cost: Laying the physical groundwork for 5G-enabled devices, autonomous vehicles, appliances, robots, and city infrastructure will require substantial, costly upgrades, estimated in the trillions of dollars. 
  • Regulations: Government regulators will be charged with establishing extensive regulations for cybersecurity, EMF radiation, spectrum availability, and infrastructure sharing.

Security: Carriers and network consortiums must ensure that cloud-based and data virtualization services are ultra secure in order to cope with the increased connectivity associated with 5G rollout and sophisticated cybersecurity threats.

Does HEAVY.AI Offer a 5G Infrastructure Solution?

5G promises to bring us Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC), and Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communication (uRLLC). With these applications comes an astronomical influx of data. Despite this massive increase in data and usage, customers still expect fast, reliable coverage at all times. The ability to analyze high volumes of spatiotemporal data in real time is crucial in ensuring optimum performance and minimum interference throughout the multitude of 5G use cases.

With the HEAVY.AIDB open source SQL engine, telecommunications analysts can leverage accelerated analytics from 5G big data in their endeavors to optimize 5G network infrastructure. HEAVY.AI helps data scientists and network operators visualize and explore spatiotemporal data, which can provide real-time 5G insights, help plan networks efficiently, and reduce network interference. OmniSci helps the entire telecommunications industry deliver on all the promises of 5G.