5G Technology in Digital Transformation
The 5G era is upon us, and with it comes a wave of new opportunities for businesses, which promises to transform enterprise connectivity by providing high-speed, low-latency and secure wireless networks. For example, NTT and Cisco, are collaborating to build up private 5G networks for enterprise customers and accelerate digital transformation. Deploying an excellent 5G network is not an easy task, as it requires several vital technology enablers. In this blog, we will explore each of these enablers in depth and discuss how they can fulfil 5G infrastructure requirements and help businesses take advantage of 5G's massive potential.
Top 5 Technology Enablers for 5G Networks
5G technology enablers are the technologies that make 5G network runs smoothly and faster and digitally transform their operations through automation and connectivity.
1). Flexible Backhaul architecture
Every year, newer devices and apps hit the market and consumers expect to get a smoother and faster experience immediately. Few realise that there are huge infrastructure requirements in building a network that can continuously support these technological advancements. The faster 5G connection on a consumer's devices requires significant investments in the underlying infrastructure, particularly in the backhaul and transport layers that connect base stations into the public communications network.
With this in mind, it's easy to understand why backhaul options such as optical fibre and IAB are considered game-changing 5G technology enablers. Optical fibre allows a network to meet the infrastructure requirements to transport significant bandwidth without worrying about weather conditions and multi-path propagation quality. In areas where fibre cannot be laid down, wireless solutions like IAB (Integrated Access Backhaul) and microwave X-haul also come in handy with their short deployment time, although bandwidth might be restrained. These options not only give users enormous flexibility in choosing their backhaul technology, but also enable them to build 5G networks with high-cost effectiveness while meeting strenuous infrastructure requirements.
2). Automatic Management and Control
As the first real converged network, 5G infrastructure comes with a whole new set of requirements where a static best-effort approach is no longer enough. While 5G technology allows networks to support increasingly diverse service scenarios, it also means that network management will also become exponentially more complex and costly. Existing models of management are simply not suitable for an age where a high degree of personalisation and modification for all services has become a prerequisite. The successful implementation of 5G networks will inevitably require newer forms of management.
For this , the adoption of an automatic management system will be a massive enabler for 5G technology. In fact, automation on multiple levels and, eventually, every level of the 5G ecosystem is the only way to deal with the enormous scope, complexity, and scale of a 5G network. It will not only allow the full benefits of virtualisation, cloud, and edge computing to be realised, but also allow companies to request and negotiate preferences flexibly and achieve service customisation. The dynamicity and diverse requirements of 5G infrastructure mean the network must be managed in an autonomic model. Modern adaptive policy-based management will prove to be a key enabler for the technology.
3). Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning
Unlike 4G technology which utilises sector-based coverage, 5G utilises beam-based cell coverage and is deployed via mm-wave. A 5G setup constantly searches for the best beam with the highest signal strength, and a higher number of activated beams is usually preferred. For this purpose, the machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to become important enablers for 5G technology, as they can be used to select the best beams and assist the 5G cell site in finding the optimal beams through a machine-learned algorithm.
In addition, AI and machine learning can also help users overcome various network planning and deployment challenges. 5G networks are often extremely complex due to their multiple access channels, frequency bands, and cells that overlap in coverage areas. This means they can be very difficult for operators to plan and organise. Machine learning and AI can help to quickly analyse data and understand geographic and engineering constraints and eliminate any coverage holes. They can also help forecast peak traffic, re-allocate resources, and measure and fine tune network parameters with extreme precision.
4). Advanced Manufacturing
Consumers don't just want faster and better products, they also want them to be smaller and more flexible. However, fitting newer and more complicated technology into a smaller body can be a real challenge even for the best engineers. One way to solve this dilemma is through the help of Advanced Manufacturing, which enables 5G technology to fit into tiny spaces and realise the design visions of 5G engineers.
The rapid development of engineering techniques has been an important enabler for 5G technology. Techniques like MID/LDS1 (Moulded Interconnect Device/ Laser Direct Structuring) allow 5G engineers to integrate complex 3D electrical and mechanical structures into tiny devices and achieve performance that existing 2D technologies are simply not capable of. With the help of advanced manufacturing, device manufacturers could finally incorporate high-density applications that meet 5G device guidelines into smaller devices without compromising on performance and functionality.
5). Radio Access Network Optimisation
The radio access network (RAN) is the part of a mobile or cellular telephone network that provides the connection to a massive number of users. For 5G networks to be successful, the RAN must be optimised for low latency, high speed, and increased capacity. It's not enough just to increase bandwidths; optimisation efforts are needed on multiple fronts to create an optimal 5G experience.
Enhanced C-RAN (Cloud-Radio Access Network) architectures have been developed as enablers for 5G technology by providing better coverage and higher degrees of flexibility. This allows operators to make better use of resources and increase efficiency even with limited spectrum availability. Through C-RAN's distributed architecture with its centralised control, operators can offload the processing requirements from Edge and Core networks to improve connectivity performance. Partnering 5G RANs with Machine learning algorithms can perform a deeper network usage data analysis, which helps reduce latency and increase capacity.
Why should enterprise invest in 5G network?
A powerful and stable 5G network can offer enterprises numerous strategic advantages, such as the ability to deploy customised indoor or outdoor wireless environments, even in areas without stable 5G coverage. Businesses that require a reliable wireless network will finally get to extend their operations beyond the coverage, speed, and security capabilities of Wi-Fi and other existing network technology. Early adopters in the 5G digital transformation can also increase control over their network and reduce the risk surrounding third-party involvement in the provision and management of their IT infrastructure.
Thanks to their various advantages, building a 5G network will be an important business strategy and trend for enterprises undergoing digital transformation. As technology enablers and talent support for 5G networks continue to improve, the cost for enterprises to build and maintain private infrastructure is gradually reducing.
Unleash 5G potential with HKT
Wireless connectivity is lifting the productivity of our workforce to unprecedented heights. Businesses that adopt and take advantage of 5G broadband early can gain a decisive edge in an increasingly digital economy and stay ahead of their competition.
HKT fully overs Hong Kong’s main business districts and all MTR lines, and currently offers one of the most comprehensive 5G services in the city. This will be second to none in providing your enterprise with the most tailored 5G broadband solution. Our 5G ensures high penetration and excellent reception in urban areas with densely packed high-rise buildings, while our wide area coverage extends services to the New Territories and remote areas. No matter if you are looking for superior speed, security, and network management for an office, or a safe and reliable connection for your team outside of the workplace, HKT's enterprise 5G broadband solution can elevate your connections and take your business to the next level. Get in touch with HKT's 5G specialists and learn more about what we can achieve for your enterprise today.