The dream of 5G deployment is quickly becoming a reality. 5G signals will bring faster speed per second, lower latency, and improved services. The basic architectural transformation is a complex and multi-layered effort which can only be achieved by public and private networks and spectrum sectors across the globe.
Related technologies like MIMO, network slicing, NFV, and beamforming also require new approaches for 5G network deployment. Significant investment will also be required; almost $300 billion is expected to be spent in the next decade.
In this blog, we will take a look at the possible options for large-scale deployment, and the challenges for 5G companies. Here are some of the leading factors that can slow down the proliferation of new technology:
Spectrum availability and implementation
As 5G networks operate on higher frequencies (nearly up to 300GHz) and deliver ultra-fast speeds (20 times more than LTE networks), their availability and cost of spectrum band is still a problem for operators. They need to bid for these higher spectrum bands to build and deploy 5G wireless networks.
Intricate network architecture
It is critical to developing IT-related infrastructure and support 5G deployment in the core and RAN networks. Handling such feature-rich and intricate networks requires trained staff with specific knowledge and competencies.
Scarcity of 5G Devices
There are still not enough 5G phones on the market. It is one of the most highlighted elements, as supply follows demand. And yet, deployment is dependent on the availability of 5G devices. But that’s not all. Existing devices have heating problems due to power consumption for transmitting high-frequency bands. And this negatively impacts performance for high bandwidths and data rates.
Regulations on radiation
Regulatory authorities have developed standards to ensure that mobile network operators build networks to serve people across the country, especially covering rural areas. In some European countries, regulations on radiations are strictly enforced, which brought 5G trials to a halt.
Although 5G has unmatched benefits, deployment requires unparalleled investment. 5G companies are also concerned about infrastructure challenges. The cost of equipment, that includes things like FOSC (Fibre Optic Splice Closure), and other installation costs are also a roadblock for telco companies.
Demand for extensive 5G networks testing
The massive bandwidth in 5G technology requires denser fibre for front-haul, mid-haul, and back-haul networks. Fibre backhaul is an important part of delivering excellent network performance and experience which complements the latest advancements with improved 5G networks in over 100 locations.
This has also increased the volume of fibre cables and endpoints used with a greater need for multiplexing (WDM) and eventually scaling the intricacy of fibre testing. Telecom operators will have to test for the correct power levels and need various sets of equipment present in a WDM system.
FOSC (Fibre Optic Splice Closure)
FOSCs are heat shrinkable structures with more splitter trays and engineered PP plastic that ensures an excellent sealing performance. FOSC (Fibre Optic Splice Closure) is suitable for protecting cable joints, branching of aerial cables and for direct-buried cables. They are also suitable for bunchy fibres and take less time to be installed.
5G Deployment and Fibre
5G fibre optic gets a lot of attention during discussions on deployment. It is estimated that almost two-thirds of all backhaul connections will be fibre-based in the next three to four years. Fibre has also been used to connect the next-generation core (NGC) and NR active antennae. PON architecture, which can be easily altered to meet the increasing throughput demands, is a useful option for the high volume of connections linked to 5G front-haul and back-haul applications.
To make fibre optic test solutions important, all fibre and PON connections should be validated. Only a few dust particles can cause a network installation failure, and radio may not get good signals on time. This is just one installation issue. Other challenges include loose connections, rolled fibres, and radio fallout. Each issue can critically affect the coverage and in the end, consumers won’t be satisfied.
To overcome this problem, a visual fault locator (VFL) can be used to quickly identify trouble spots when signal connectivity is lost. Loss testing using OTDR and detailed validation of power levels can resolve 5G fibre optic installation problems.
5G Deployment Opportunities
Operators and industry experts are analysing emerging trends in the development stage, and have shared ideas to expedite the deployment of 5G networks. The non-standalone concept was developed as a means of introducing the first 5G coverage functionality on top of current 4G/LTE network infrastructure, which led to the release of the 3GPP new radio (NR) non-standalone.
A non-standalone deployment is where both LTE and 5G NR radio access networks are present but controlled by the EPC core connected to the LTE access, used for controlling the plane signalling anchor for the 5G NR.
Standalone LTE (REL 15), 5GC Connected
A Standalone LTE (REL 15) is a standalone deployment where an LTE RAN is connected to 5GC. The LTE must be an evolved LTE (eLTE) RAN that can handle the new 5GC signalling. However, this option might not be adopted as most benefits will come from migrating to a 5G NR network.
Standalone 5G NR, EPC Connected
Standalone 5G NR, EPC connected is a deployment that is suitable in situations where the radio network has completely shifted to 5G NR. The original EPC signalling interfaces (S1-U, S1-C) are used between the EPC and 5G NR, which means the 5G NR must support the legacy core network signalling.
Non-standalone, LTE Assisted, 5GC Connected
These non-standalone deployments are where the next-generation core (5GC) will be used with a mixture of LTE and 5G NR radio. The core network signalling interface between the 5GC and the radio network infrastructure will be the next-gen signalling (i.e., NG-U, NG-C) but it will be routed via the LTE RAN.