The next stage in the evolution of mobile communication: 5G. The new standard will open up completely new potential applications. What will tomorrow’s mobile communication look like? And how will chips from Infineon help make life easier, safer and greener? Here’s a look into the near future.
The meeting with her sales colleagues lasted until late in the evening. Isabel Grainger is driving home through the city at night, thinking all the time: “Thank goodness there are no more traffic jams at this time of day like during the rush hour.” The journey from the north of the city to her suburban home in the south can easily take more than an hour in the early evening.
The drawback in finishing work late, however, is that there’s hardly anywhere to park in the streets. But Isabel’s not worried about that. The area she lives in is part of a pilot project. The streetlights are fitted with radar sensors and radio frequency identification (RFID) chips. They detect whether there’s an empty parking space nearby and pass this information to a central server via the mobile network.
A corresponding app is installed in Isabel’s car. It shows her on the navigation system where there are places to park under which streetlights. In fact, Isabel doesn’t need to look for long. She can park just around 150 yards from her home. “That makes things so much easier,” thinks Isabel as she parks. “It saves time and fuel. And you don’t get on the neighbors’ nerves driving along their street for the third time.”
5G stands for “fifth generation,” the name of the next standard in mobile communication. This standard will replace the current LTE standard (4G). Earlier standards were UMTS (3G) and GSM (2G). 5G will offer greater bandwidths of up to 10 gigabits per second and extremely low response times. That enables a much faster transmission rate and meets growing communication requirements in an increasingly networked society. 5G will require considerably less power for data transmission: Compared to the previous standard, 5G needs only a thousandth of the power for each transmitted bit.
The mobile standard 5G will offer a transmission rate that is around 100 times faster than that of LTE with data rate of up to 10 gigabits per second. Even videos in 4K format can be loaded at lightning speed. Downloading the content of a DVD takes less than five seconds. Delays, such as are commonplace in video telephony, will be a thing of the past. Telemedicine applications will thus be possible, in which a surgeon carries out operations over the internet. At the same time, the new 5G network will permit greater bandwidths, thus allowing a large number of users to be supplied faster simultaneously and receive higher quality. That means 5G will be far more stable and reliable.
John Spencer is also maneuvering his car into an empty space. He leased it just a few months ago and is still enthusiastic about all its new features. It drives completely autonomously in a traffic jam. “A computer on wheels,” he thought when the dealer explained all the functions to him.
When he switches off the engine, a message appears on the display: The car manufacturer is offering him a new software update with a raft of new functions to make driving even safer and more convenient. He doesn’t even need to take his car to the workshop for it. Just like with his mobile phone, he can download the update via the car’s mobile interface – the so-called telematics unit. Security chips help that only authorized service providers can access the car.
Thanks to the high-speed 5G network, the new software version should take no longer than 20 minutes to load and install. Since John doesn’t need the car until the next morning, he confirms the update. He gets out and locks the car while the update is already being loaded. The updated user guide will be automatically sent straight to his smartphone in a few seconds. That means he can learn more about the new functions right away. Early next morning, he can then use his car’s enhanced functionality.
More and more devices will communicate directly with each other over the internet in the coming years. The trend is toward the Internet of Things (IoT). Experts estimate that up to 50 billion devices will be connected over the web in 2020 – most of them mobile. 5G lays the foundation for coping with the growing volume of data and enables emerging applications such as networked production (Industry 4.0).
Dr. Stefan Hofschen on the chances and risks arise from the increasing interconnection of cars
A key prerequisite for the next mobile standard is the expansion of the infrastructure. Existing base stations need to be upgraded, while many other small antenna arrays – termed small cells – need to be set up from scratch. Infineon supplies the required high-frequency components. Infineon’s chips enable data transmission with frequencies of up to 90 gigahertz that are needed in particular for 5G’s high bandwidths.
Growing connectivity increases the need for data security. Smart homes, connected cars and Industry 4.0 will only become established if they are protected against unauthorized access and users can rely on the security of data and processes. Infineon offers a broad range of semiconductor solutions to counter the growing number of security threats.
The pass to the free center forward is delivered with perfect precision. He takes it and shoots right away. Goal! More than 70,000 spectators cheer. Gregory West and his son are in the soccer stadium. As usual, Julian has his smartphone in his hand. He watches what’s happening on the pitch, but keeps checking the display. A major national TV station is broadcasting the game live on the internet.
Julian can follow the game on the pitch in front of them, but also at the same time on his mobile phone, which shows the action from different camera angles. And with as good as no delay thanks to the high-speed 5G network. Julian even has a small wireless loudspeaker in his ear so he can listen to the station’s commentary simultaneously.
Gregory prefers to soak up the mood in the stadium. He looks around. A lot of spectators are using their smartphone to watch the game both ways. In the meantime, it’s become a real trend at big events. “Pretty remarkable,” he thinks to himself. “Several thousand people can access the mobile internet at the same time without any bottlenecks.”
Establishing a new mobile infrastructure involves huge technical and financial challenges. Initial solutions are expected to be ready for the 2018 Olympic Games in Korea. A number of network equipment providers in the U.S. are also planning to offer a special service at 28 gigahertz (fixed wireless access) as a replacement for wireline solutions. The new standard will be available from around 2020. Japan intends to get such an infrastructure up and running for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. However, it will take a few more years after that for there to be a sufficient number of devices and applications and for people to be able to make use of the full scope of 5G on a wide scale.