Here’s What Programmers Need To Know About 5G

4 min read

Ciao there! From the day homo sapiens discovered the power of fire, we have never stopped inventing and discovering new concepts, right? This curious nature of human beings is what sets us apart from the rest, and oh boy, our lives are so much more different from what it was a few hundred years back! We all can’t live with (Yes, I am talking about what all the mommies out there will blame) -The Internet! 

This unseen digital beam of information has changed our lives drastically. From the very basic 2G speed to the ultrafast fibre, the world is up for an even bigger and better change. Yes, I am talking about 5G! We all have heard this term, but do you quite know what modules are used to make this super-fast internet accessible to you? Let’s dig deep and understand a teensy bit about that. 

So, what is 5G?

After four generations of mobile networks, the Fifth Generation for cellular networks, or in short 5G, is the next big thing for the cellular companies and us as well. The deployment of this technology started in the year 2019 and is set to take over the connectivity world soon. Owing to 5G’s lower latency and bigger channels, it has the ability to connect to multiple smart devices at the same time. Unlike its predecessors, 5G makes use of radio, a telecom core, and operating systems. The 5G technology can be implemented in three bands: low-band, mid-band, and high-band millimetre wave, where mmWave ranging from 24 GHz to 100 GHz can be used. 

How is 5G better than 4G?

Before we read more about 5G and how it is different and much faster than the rest, we will look at how the communication networks evolved over the decades. 

1G technology marked the first mobile phones and mobile voice calls. Soon after a decade, in 1991, the 2G technology was available to the public, marking the beginning of the mobile phone era. People could make phone calls and SMS with 2G. The mobile phones weren’t exactly compact before the 3G was introduced. Compared to 2G, 3G was almost eight times faster, and you could do the basic mobile web browsing with this. And finally, in the year 2009, 4G was available, which most of us currently use. With 4G technology (ten times faster than 3G), we all could stream high-quality videos and download files at a much faster data speed. 

Now that 5G is here, it will change how much we can do with our mobile phones. With the decrease in latency (as low as 1ms) and increase in channels, 5G will weave its magic and transform the connectivity across the globe. Since 5G uses adaptive modulation and coding schemes, the error rate also will be very low. With the 5G transformation, more services will shift to cloud-based services, improving the data processing and storage facility. 

How is 5G going to affect Software Development?

IoT For The Win

With the 5G technology being introduced, the IoT will be one of the biggest winners. With the low latency feature of 5G, almost everything, right from supply chains, tracking individual items at warehouses to driverless vehicles and traffic systems, can be powered and automated. Drones can be controlled remotely and used for the supply of retail goods and essential medicines. By using smarter electricity grids, carbon emissions can be reduced drastically.

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Revolution In Mobile Apps

With the very high transfer speed and low latency, mobile application developers will seamlessly introduce and test new features. Various technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality will soon be available in your pocket devices. Remote consultations, more effective digital teaching for millions, high-quality video conferencing are just a few of the many changes to transform the global economy. 

Enhanced Digital Banking

Last year we saw a massive boom in the digital banking sector, and it’s going to grow even more, not because of the pandemic but 5G. With almost zero latency in the transactions and much faster and simpler payment options, digital banking will be of more appeal to merchants and enterprises. The primary issue that we all are concerned about is the security levels. With fraudulent transactions happening every day, the need for more security also has increased. With 5G technology, banks can collect and process data, consult multiple data instances in real-time, and customer geolocation, banks can make informed decisions effectively. 

What are the important modules for 5G?

Now that we know how 5G will transform the world, let’s look at the critical modules and concepts programmed to make this technology stand out. 

Massive MIMO

This technology is one of the crucial technologies used to achieve the desired efficiency. Multiple Input Multiple Output, also known as MIMO, is a radio technology where multiple antennas are deployed at both the transmitter and receiver sides to increase quality and capacity. Due to a large number of antennas stationed, more smart devices can access the same frequency and resources compared to the current day 4G system. MIMO technology uses various techniques known as spatial Diversity and multiplexing to stream the massive amount of encoded data.

In the communication field, one of the most used tools is Matlab. Massive MIMO is programmed using high-level programming languages such as C or C++. You can also learn and understand MIMO by using an open-source Python package. Matlab is originally a closed source software, and all the codes written in Matlab can easily be ported to Python by simple commands such as NumPy and Matplotlib.

NOMA

Currently, for 3G and 4G, orthogonal multiple access or OMA techniques such as TDMA, FDMA, etc., are used. However, none of these will meet the requirements of the 5G; hence a new concept known as non-orthogonal multiple access or NOMA is introduced. In NOMA, multiple users can utilize non-orthogonal resources concurrently by yielding a high spectral efficiency and such that the successive interference cancellation (SIC) receiver can separate the users both in the uplink and in the downlink channels.

To evaluate the performance of the NOMA systems, software-defined radio (SDR) is used. Using the concept of SDR, we can implement and prototype the software itself instead of resorting to hardware. To implement SDR for the NOMA system, several signal processing techniques are developed and implemented. GNU Radio Project is one of the widely used signal processing frameworks. These blocks are written in C and C++, while the visualization tools are mainly constructed using Python. 

Beamforming

Beamforming is another technology that is used with Massive MIMO to increase network throughput and capacity. The signal is directed in a specific direction using beamforming instead of sending it to a broader area. With a large number of antennas in Massive MIMO, both horizontal and vertical beams can be broadcasted towards the users, thereby increasing the data rates as well. This is particularly useful in urban areas where there are tall buildings. There exists two types of beamforming: digital and analog, and both are used in 5G. Digital beamforming improves the cell capacity, whereas analog beamforming is used to improve the coverage. 

Well, that was some jam-packed information, phew! The 5G revolution has already started, and now you know how exactly you are going to get this super-fast technology in your smart devices. 

Until next time, adios mate!

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