What will 5G mean for spectrum management and operations?
Posted on: January 28, 2019

The introduction of 5G has the potential to revolutionize a number of industries by providing ultra-reliable, high-throughput, low-latency communication links. This will support a diverse set of applications, from autonomous vehicles to IoT network traffic.

In order to fulfill this vision, the 5G network will have to be very dynamic. Multiple deployment paradigms will be supported, including licensed spectrum, shared spectrum, and unlicensed spectrum. Sharing and aggregation will be done both within the same band, as well as between bands having very different propagation characteristics, such as sub-6GHz and mmWave.

In 5G networking, the concepts pioneered in LTE, such as heterogeneous networks and inter-cell interference coordination, highly directional links, and the anticipated sharing between access and backhaul will allow LTE deployment to reach full potential. Taken together these advanced 4G features, and their evolution into 5G, will create new and unique spectrum management challenges.

During 5G network operation, not only will RF carriers be set up and torn down quickly, but the transmission formats used on those carriers will change rapidly in order to optimize waveforms to meet the needs of the application. This will require adaptive algorithms that can sense the spectrum and share it appropriately.

To boost network capacity, 5G will also have to make extensive use of multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) techniques to send and receive multiple data signals over the same channel, simultaneously. This will make sensing the network’s spectrum use more challenging, due to the high directivity of MIMO signals. Sensing the network in one location may not reveal potential interference in another location.

5G will also support very short (<1 millisecond) transmission intervals and fast switching between uplink and downlink transmissions, which will make sensing the network even more challenging. Traditional survey methods will be insufficient with 5G. Instead, a network of sensors will have to be utilized that continuously monitor the network in order to gain a thorough understanding of spectrum usage.

Based on LGS CEO Kevin Kelly interview with ‘Microwaves & RF’ magazine

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