By Sheri De Tomasi, 5G New Radio Solutions Lead, Keysight Technologies, Inc.
Fact or Fiction:
What’s Real in 5G New Radio
Uncovering implications for your device development.
The initial 5G New Radio (NR) specification was released by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project
(3GPP) standards committee in December 2017. 5G
chipsets have started to appear, so as a result, the race
to trial infrastructure and devices will accelerate. What
does this mean for those designing 5G devices? 5G
NR will support limited use cases in the beginning.
This article focuses on 5G NR release R15, uncovers
some misconceptions, and describes the boundaries and
implications for device designs.
5G NR holds many promises for consumers—extreme
download rates to view ultra-high-definition videos,
low-latency applications like mission-critical drones, and
devices talking to other devices without going through the
network. These are well defined in the IMT for 2020 and
beyond vision. According to the November 2017 Ericsson
Mobility Report, total mobile data traffic is expected to
raise at a compounded annual growth rate of 42 percent.
This will put huge demands on the wireless network, and
new technologies are needed to achieve these goals.
a house, the
first step is a
to support the
capabilities in the
initial release will
use cases, while
support for other use cases in massive machine-type
communications (mMTC), which is primarily for Io T
applications, will be defined later in 2019. 5G NR
standards are still under development, and will be rolled
out over the next several years. How much of the 5G
vision can be made real by what’s been released so far?
Let’s explore what can be realized with initial R15 and
implications for your designs.
Fact or Fiction?
5G NR is a replacement for 4G networks.
False: 4G LTE is continuing to evolve and, in fact, will
play a major role in the success of 5G. When devices are
connected to the network, 4G and 5G will coexist to
provide broader coverage and facilitate the use of new
technologies on the network. Developments in 4G LTE-Advanced Pro are already seeing gigabit throughput rates
by using higher order modulation, more multiple-input,
multiple-output (MIMO) streams, and aggregating both
licensed and unlicensed spectrum using techniques like
LTE Licensed Assisted Access (LAA). There will be
integration between 4G and 5G, and the initial release
of 5G NR will be in non-standalone mode (NSA)
where the 5G network will rely on the 4G network
for scheduling and control of the signal. The final state
of R15 will support standalone (SA) mode, but the
expectation is that 4G, 5G, and even the convergence of
WiFi will all continue to work in conjunction to deliver
a diverse set of services. What it comes down to is that
4G is not disappearing anytime soon. Device designers
will need to consider coexistence of 5G NR, 4G LTE,
and WiFi on the same carrier with the possibility of
RF interference, as well as network collisions when
scheduling three different protocols.
5G will utilize flexible numerology to address diverse spectrum
True: 5G NR introduces a flexible numerology to enable
a wide range of frequencies, and the scheduling of diverse
services that can be high throughput, low or even high
latency for Io T types of applications. The subcarrier
spacing is no longer fixed to 15 kHz. Instead, the carrier
spacing scales by 2µ x 15 kHz as the frequency increases.
This enables scalable slot duration so that some slots can
run in less time. To support future low-latency, mission-critical applications, a mini-slot is shorter in duration than
a standard slot and can start at any time without waiting
for the start of a slot boundary.
With the introduction of flexible numerology in 5G
NR, the number of test cases has exploded and device
designers will need to create and analyze waveforms in