In the past few years, mobile service subscribers have become well-acquainted with the term 5G – but companies in the mobile telecom space are already developing the next evolution in 5G technology called 5G-Advanced.
5G-Advanced will encompass a long list of technology enhancements aimed at enabling or improving a variety of use cases – all while making mobile networks more efficient and intelligent.
One example of the ways in which 5G-Advanced will differ from 5G is in its uplink connections. 5G promised faster download speeds for mobile users. 5G-Advanced focuses more on the uplink – how fast users can upload data. That’s important because there are a lot of use cases that need faster uplink — for example, consumer applications like live video streaming on handheld devices. Also, enterprise applications like video surveillance for security can make use of more centralized video processing capabilities by uploading the video to the network. 5G-Advanced will also strengthen support for augmented reality and virtual reality, which have both consumer and business use cases.
5G-Advanced is the next level
With this next step in 5G evolution mobile networks will become more energy-efficient through several means, one of which is increased use of artificial intelligence. 5G networks use AI and machine learning in some ways today. But Advanced will bring this use to a new level by fostering collaboration between the AI processes happening in the network and those happening in devices like smartphones, which have mostly been operating separately so far.
5G-Advanced will also help empower devices beyond just smartphones. It has features that allow Internet-of-Things devices to work in a very low-power mode to save battery power and then trigger a wake-up mode for more communication with the network when that’s needed. These are just a small sample of the many changes ahead.
Upgrade depends on uniformity
Mobile service providers don’t have the option of upgrading their networks to 5G-Advanced just yet. That’s because the industry standards for 5G-Advanced that define these technologies and their common attributes – to have uniformity across different companies and products – haven’t been finalized yet. The first standards defining 5G-Advanced, 3GPP Release 18, could be completed later this year. That would allow networking equipment suppliers to start offer the technology next year, with deployments and service offerings in the 2025 timeframe and beyond. The process is already underway. In February, semiconductor giant Qualcomm announced its first chipsets based on 5G-Advanced, which should start shipping later this year.
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How quickly will mobile operators deploy 5G-Advanced? That depends on a range of factors, including competitive pressures, the breadth of device support and their degree of confidence that the business case for 5G-Advanced will allow them to monetize their investments more profitably than 5G did.