The evolution of mobile telephony can be described in the form of "cellular generations", with one generation each identifying a particular technology. The fifth generation (5G), which is currently being introduced, features New Radio (NR) as the successor to the highly successful 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard. NR should enable higher data rates, lower delay and higher efficiency (ie lower power consumption) compared to LTE. New technologies, such as Massive MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) in which multiple antennas are used for transmission, enable higher efficiency. The network functions rely on virtualization, NR also allows for specialization, such as higher robustness. The radio bandwidth has been increased from 20 MHz at LTE in the NR (in the frequency range used today for mobile radio) to 100 MHz.
Below is an overview of the mobile radio generations from 2G to 5G.
Basically, the use of 5G technology is not limited to a specific frequency range. Accordingly, the spectrum for mobile communications has been assigned "technology-neutral" for some time, i.e. it is the responsibility of the license holder to determine which technology is used in the relevant frequency band.
Nevertheless, for various technical and economic reasons, it makes sense to identify uniform frequency ranges for use with 5G. In Europe, there has been a political agreement on three so-called "pioneer bands", which are made available by the EU member states for 5G.
The underlying considerations of the European Commission are summarized in a fact sheet.
The beginnings of 5G standardization date back to 2015, when a basic ITU document on basic 5G design criteria set the cornerstones of the new technology. The focus has been placed on the following applications for 5G.
- Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB)
- Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC)
- Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (uRLLC)
This means that 5G will be designed and optimized to support, in particular, faster mobile broadband (eMBB), IoT and M2M (mMTC) applications, and critical communication with high availability and latency requirements (uRLLC).
The expectations associated with 5G are high: after all, the new technology should become the backbone of future applications, even if they are still futuristic from today's perspective. Whether self-driving cars, virtual and augmented reality, robot-assisted remote operations or the "Smartification" of modern society, everything seems to rely on the potential of 5G. The extent to which the new technology can actually meet these expectations will be shown. What is certain is that both today's and future applications will result in further traffic growth and therefore require powerful technology. For example, the Ericsson Mobility Report predicts an annual growth rate of 30% for the global data volume for the 2018-2024 period. according to the authors, 5G is apt to be the answer to these requirements.
However, one thing is already foreseeable: Work on a successor technology for 5G has already begun in the university sector and in standardization.
Regarding the security and integrity of networks and services in Austria, the regulatory authority has a special responsibility set out in the TKG 2003. As part of these tasks, the Authority not only acts as a Notification Office for incidents reporting with significant impact on the availability of communication networks or services, but also performs its role in measures to ensure the security and integrity of networks and services.
Regarding the security of 5G networks, the regulatory authority, at the request of the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology in 2019, re-evaluated the sector risk analysis completed in 2018 with the sector with respect to the risks of 5G.
The introduction of 5G is in some places associated with fears and uncertainties of possible adverse health effects of electromagnetic waves. It should be noted that this topic is being monitored both at international level (eg by the World Health Organization WHO) and at national level (Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism, BMLRT). In this connection, reference should be made to an information page of the BMLRT as well as to the Scientific Advisory Board for Radio (Wissenschaftlicher Beirat Funk, WBF), which is based there and is staffed by experts.
In April 2019, the Advisory Council for Technology Assessment of the Austrian Parliament (Beirat der Technikfolgenabschätzung des österreichischen Parlaments) commissioned the preparation of a study on the subject of "5G and health". The focus of the study, which is expected to be available by January 2020, is to prepare the current state of knowledge.
The precautionary approach, which requires that any risks posed by new technologies to the health and safety of citizens, be adequately balanced and appropriate action taken is also taken into account at European level in all initiatives of the European Commission, including those on 5G. To do so, the European Commission also relies on the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER). Below you will find further information on the subject.
The international standardization of 5G is being driven by the global standardization bodies ITU (International Telecommunications Union), 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) and ETSI (European Telecommunications Standardization Institute). While the design criteria have been set by the ITU, the concrete specification by the 3GPP will be developed in a variety of working groups and globally agreed. Below is an overview of the content and schedule of the main development steps of 5G.