The Future of Telecommunications
Mobile users want fast network speeds with a reliable service which 4G is currently proving to be satisfactory to the majority of mobile users, the next step for faster data speeds and a more reliable service is 5G. 5G is currently still in its early development stage as industry groups and companies are working together to produce this mobile network enhancement, but they all agree that as the number of mobile traffic increases, the base stations are going to have to be upgraded to handle the increased traffic and deliver this new 5G capability.
Currently today's 4G base stations have 12 ports for antennas that deal with all cellular traffic, eight ports for transmitters and four ports for receivers. 5G base stations have the ability to support a hundred ports which means more antennas can fit on a single array. This allows a base station to send and receive signals from a greater amount of traffic.
This technology is called massive MIMO. MIMO stands for multiple-input multiple-output and is currently in some 4G base stations, massive MIMO has so far only been tested in labs and a few field trials. During early tests massive MIMO set new records for spectrum efficiency. Spectrum efficiency is the measure of how many pieces of data can be transmitted to number of users per second with the fewest transmission errors.
Massive MIMO looks to be pushing the future of cellular data in the right direction, however installing a vast amount of antennas to handle a larger amount of cellular traffic will cause more interference if those signals cross. This is why 5G stations are looking into producing new technologies such as small cells, full duplex, millimeter waves and beamforming to prevent this.
Engineers are hoping these new 5G technologies will be the answer to a wireless network that will support the future of smartphones, autonomous cars and other wireless electronic devices that rely on cellular network data every day. Researchers and companies have high expectations for 5G and hope to have the ultrafast and reliable service rolled out to consumers within the next five years.