Flexible Solutions for 5G Technology
April 22, 2021
- Industry Trends and Solutions
Server Technology’s Marc Cram has released a new white paper on 5G technology, an update to the 2019 whitepaper “The Internet of Things in our Lives” which addressed the role of distribution in the power-dense land of smart sensors and the Internet of things. In this next installment of the series titled “Updates on 5G Wireless,” Server Technology delivers what it promises—a concise recap of the current state of affairs of the new 5G mobile network technology. Spoiler Alert: all is not as advertised, hoped for, or promised in the developing world of 5G.
Facing the Challenges of 5G
Over time, the flexibility that comes from 5G wireless connectivity will allow more sensors generating more data to operate in more places, greatly expanding the need for local processing and storage for edge computing. Edge computing will also be the enabler for the promised latency and functionality of 5G wireless, forever putting to rest the question of “the last mile, or the only mile.” For now, however, there are seemingly more challenges than solutions associated with the new technology.
5G is currently overcoming challenges on multiple fronts:
- Significantly reduced signal penetration in buildings means new techniques, such as dynamic spectrum-sharing and directional beamforming, are required to deliver bandwidth.
- Development of handsets that utilize 5G technology are in short supply as industry leaders continue to work through licensing, patent, and spectrum-allocation issues.
- Other challenges—such as new technology, complexity and automation, and the cost to the consumer versus its benefits—are standing in the way of full deployment. For example, as Cram points out, the effective distance for new 5G frequency cells when compared on a watt-by-watt basis to 4G is significantly reduced, rivaling today’s Wi-Fi access points for usable coverage.
The implication here is that providing full coverage for a metro area could require an order of magnitude —more hardware and site locations—to provide 5G coverage that rivals 4G. More locations and hardware mean more cost.
Overlay Versus New
Initial deployments of 5G infrastructure have already proven to be an overlay to existing 4G hardware, not a replacement, causing growth in the total power consumed by the networks. New edge deployments require new 5G hardware that is smaller and consumes more power than its predecessors, generating new demand for power distribution, intelligent rack PDUs, cabinets, and two-post racks.