No one is asking “how far is 5G from us” anymore because we are already in it. According to the “2021 China Mobile Economic Development Report” released by the GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications Association), as of January 2021, there are 144 5G commercial networks in 57 countries around the world, and the number of 5G connections has reached about 235 million.

In China, which is a leader in the construction and deployment of 5G networks, the number of 5G connections exceeds 200 million, accounting for 87% of the total number of 5G connections in the world. A more important signal is that China’s 4G penetration rate declined for the first time in 2020, which indicates that more and more consumers are more interested in switching to 5G services.

5G applications have broad prospects

Today’s 5G is like a train, moving forward with an unquestionable attitude on the established track.

In 2020, China will add about 580,000 5G base stations, build 330,000 shared 5G base stations, and build a total of 718,000 5G base stations. According to the timetable given by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 2020 to 2024 is the 5G network scale construction period; 2025 to 2028 will be the 5G network construction and perfection period; 2029 will start to consider the introduction of 6G. So the next 7-8 years should be the golden years of 5G.

In terms of 5G terminals, the penetration rate of 5G mobile phones is also very fast. According to the “Analysis Report on the Operation of the Domestic Mobile Phone Market in March 2021” released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, the 5G mobile phone shipments in China’s domestic market in March this year were 27.498 million units. It has accounted for 76.2% of the mobile phone shipments in the same period; from January to March, the cumulative shipment of 5G mobile phones in the domestic market was 69.846 million units, and 64 new models were launched. The proportion of 5G mobile phones was 71.3% and 52.5% respectively. Moreover, 5G mobile phones below 1,000 yuan have appeared, which will undoubtedly provide a greater acceleration for the growth of the proportion of 5G mobile phones.

The traditional mobile communication with mobile phones as the carrier is only one of the many application scenarios that 5G is involved in. When 5G fully penetrates into all aspects of life and realizes the interconnection of everything, its value can truly be revealed. In this regard, analysts have given optimistic forecasts. Acumen Research and Consulting’s latest “5G Service Market – Global Industry Analysis, Market Size, Opportunities and Forecasts, 2020-2027” report predicts that from 2020 to 2027, the global 5G service market is expected to grow by about 29.7% annually The compound growth rate will increase, and the market size will exceed 250.3 billion US dollars by 2027; the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology also predicted the direct contribution of 5G to China’s social development in the “5G Economic and Social Impact White Paper”: the total output that 5G will drive by 2030 6.3 trillion yuan, boosting the economic added value of 2.9 trillion yuan and providing 8 million job opportunities; and in terms of indirect contribution, it is even greater.

Who are the applications in the 5G era?

However, when we look back from the exciting data above, we also find that we are still a long way from these grand visions. A very important reason is that 5G is obviously a “technology-driven” market. In such a market, technology is often the first step to build the infrastructure, and the real demand grows with a lag. And which applications that really belong to the 5G era can finally take root and bear fruit, is the key to whether 5G’s “proud Haikou” can be realized.

Recall that 3G and 4G quickly consumed their network bandwidth and capabilities because of the rise of the mobile Internet. So where are the killer apps in the 5G era? To be honest, this is an unanswerable question today, but various explorations around it have begun.

For example, since the second half of last year, “5G message”, which has been talked about by various operators, is an information service system based on the GSMA RCS UP standard. Interactive, that is to say, using the portal of native SMS, based on the high bandwidth of 5G, 5G messages can send richer multimedia content including text, pictures, audio and video, geographic location, applet, service interaction and consumer transactions. For commercial companies, this obviously provides a more direct, eye-catching and controllable business promotion channel, and its imagination is undoubtedly huge. From the user’s point of view, it is naturally more convenient to swipe short videos in text messages without opening a specific app, or to open more multimedia information experiences. Some people have already shouted “Move Douyin into SMS”. slogan to start commercial operations.

In the mobile Internet era, WeChat and other social apps have moved the “cheese” of mobile operators’ text messages. In the 5G era, whether operators can make a comeback with “5G messages”, people are waiting to see. However, no matter whether the 5G news will eventually become popular, its emergence is more important to people’s enlightenment – how to deeply understand the technical architecture of 5G, and reconstruct the business logic and business model adapted to the 5G era, Whoever runs fast and does well in this regard will have the opportunity to find their own stable position in the 5G value chain.

In fact, in addition to innovative applications in the consumer market, the application prospects of 5G technology in the enterprise market will be broader.

With the continuous transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing industry to automation and intelligence, more and more “black light factories” have emerged in China, which is also one of the major applications of 5G-enabled industrial Internet of Things. For example, in the intelligent unmanned factory that produces Xiaomi mobile phones, all the work is done by robots. From production management, mechanical processing to packaging, storage and transportation, the whole process is automated and unmanned black light production. In the workshop of the unmanned chemical factory, the industrial mobile robot – automatic guided vehicle (AGV) completes the work of handling and loading and unloading. It can travel according to the set guidance path, and travel between the material storage place and the destination according to the route, and automatically carry out material transportation. The robot arm can complete loading and unloading and various fine operations. At the same time, the quality inspection is also completed by the machine vision system, and the whole process does not require manual participation.

The Industrial Internet of Things adopts a time-sensitive network and requires precise synchronization of control. Therefore, for the manufacturing industry, 5G not only brings the convenience of wireless connection, but also provides low-latency and ultra-reliable services suitable for the requirements of the Industrial Internet of Things. . The AGV solution provided by Avnet integrates various sensors and path planning algorithms such as machine vision and ToF obstacle avoidance. Through the 5G network connection, the cloud high-performance computer AI algorithm can easily realize real-time path planning and motion control, and many more. devices work together seamlessly. In addition, according to business needs, the operation process can be adjusted in real time to achieve flexible production.

Avnet: 5G roars, will open up unlimited business opportunities

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) designed by Avnet

5G Power Consumption: A Growing Pain

With the expansion of the scale of 5G network deployment, a topic will be mentioned more frequently from 2020, which is “5G energy consumption”, and some people even think that this will be a stumbling block in future 5G commercial use.

Compared with 4G technology, 5G will indeed be more “power-consuming” because:

From the perspective of the radio frequency system, the 4G base station uses an 8-antenna RRU antenna matrix to achieve 2D MIMO, and the 5G base station uses a 64-antenna AAU antenna matrix to achieve 3D MIMO. After comprehensive evaluation, under the same efficiency, 5G radio frequency The power consumption of the system is twice that of 4G.

From the perspective of base station deployment, because 5G uses a higher frequency band – to meet the requirements of high bandwidth and Massive MIMO – the coverage area of ​​a single base station will be smaller than that of 4G, which means covering the same range, In theory, the number of 5G base stations required is 1.2 to 1.4 times that of 4G.

According to estimates, the above two factors are superimposed, and the energy consumption of 5G network will be 2.4~2.8 times that of 4G network. Converted to electricity bills, taking China’s three major operators as an example, the total annual electricity bill will increase from 50.5 billion yuan to 120 billion to 140 billion yuan after the adoption of 5G networks. This expenditure is a “sweet burden” that operators must bear before 5G is commercialized on a large scale, which also makes players in the 5G ecosystem must accelerate the pace of energy conservation, emission reduction and large-scale commercialization.

But in any case, this is a “growing pain” that will eventually be resolved over time.

Development decision: 4G or 5G?

On the road to 5G, in addition to operators, there are also “annoyances” for users, who must make the right decision on whether to switch from 4G to 5G, and when to switch. For the average end-consumer user, this is just a change in the number on the bill. For a business user who is developing a cellular connection application, it will be related to the entire product life cycle, and it really needs careful consideration.

The good news, though, is that in the upgrade from 4G LTE to 5G, standard setters and technology developers have taken this into account. By adopting Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) technology, operators can share the same spectrum for 4G LTE and 5G without having to split the spectrum, and can flexibly allocate spectrum resources according to usage. This flexibility also means that 4G LTE and 5G will be able to coexist harmoniously for a long time to come, which also allows developers to not have to worry too much about this important technology transition – for those who are willing to experiment and can pay high prices. Premium-priced applications can use 5G connectivity, while applications that are more sensitive to cost and technical robustness can still use 4G LTE.

All in all, on the road to 5G, people are removing all kinds of hesitations in various ways, making the most important technological generational change in the history of wireless communication more “smooth” and making more of practitioners can find their new value in this new technology. Before we know it, we are already on the same path as 5G.

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