We in Cumucore have implemented several bleeding edge 5G SA projects during the last 12 months. We have done media productions, industry 4.0 projects and public safety use cases.
What can we answer to the question is “5G is over hyped”. To make it short: no it is not. The main advantages of 5G are flexibility and cost. The main challenges relate to obvious complexity. As a warning we have to say that 5G technology is in the very early stages, so drawing strong conclusions is a bit immature. But let me explain our learnings so far:
In non-public network use cases there is always a specific problem that needs to be addressed. There is also existing infrastructure that needs to be integrated with very specific applications that are using the non public network. This makes it a much more complex playing field than a public network where coverage and speed test capacity is everything. Understanding IP plans and given technological restrictions is key, but on top of that also used application requirements need to be understood thoroughly to make a successful end to end use case. On the other hand, application requirements can be addressed very well because of flexibility in the air interface. You can tailor uplink/downlink balance and select needed numerology to meet delay requirements. But this is not all: you also have all IP and application level tools that can and have to be used to achieve needed results. So far we don’t know where the performance limits are but we can say that 5G technology is much more flexible than previous generations.
Cost side is also markable, we have implemented all virtual network functions in containers. This means that scaling up and down is just adding virtual machines in the cloud. The flexibility also means that we can easily do multi vendor 5G Cores and to have User Plane Function (UPF) on-premise and other Network Functions (NF) in the cloud. We can run the 5G Core practically on any computer etc. We have not yet seen all possibilities but we know that there are many more. In practice we can bring the 5G Standalone (SA) network into any environment.
There are also challenges: 5G was introduced in public networks as a 4G update so called Non Standalone ( NSA). This means that handsets are using 4G signalling but 5G data layer. This works in consumer use cases but does not make any sense to non-public networks. There will be a challenge on how to switch from NSA to SA in public networks. This is of course also an opportunity, because the SA network has a significant cost advantage over NSA. Another major challenge is the availability of frequencies for non-public networks. Not all frequencies are available in every country and in the countries where they are available rules are different in every country. The demand seems to be really high to at least test out non-public networks.
During 2022 we will continue delivering and trying out completely new ways of connecting devices without Ethernet cables. Stay tuned, this will be a big year for the mobile internet industry!More details