5G – New Radio (NR)

5G NR is the new radio access technology developed by 3GPP for 5G mobile networks. Just like GSM for 2G, UMTS for 3G, LTE for 4G, NR is designated to be the global standard for air interface in 5G.

5G NR is supposed to deliver not just faster mobile data speeds but it is also developed to provide significant enhancements in terms of flexibility, scalability and efficiency. There are several features of the new radio used in 5G NR.

New radio spectrum: As explained in the previous post, 5G will not just be limited to mobile devices, but it will also accelerate the growth of several applications like IoT, connected cars, smart homes etc. Whilst improvements will be made in efficiency of existing spectrum in 5G, in order to accommodate and handle all these connected devices, more spectrum will be needed. 5G NR will allow the use of higher frequencies > 24 GHz upto 100 GHz. These radio waves with higher frequencies are also called as ‘millimeter waves’ (mmWaves). Perhaps, the early 5G deployments will be based using radio waves of sub-6 GHz spectrum.

As we add more devices to sub-6 GHz spectrum currently used by GSM, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and several other radio technologies, this part of spectrum is becoming crowded and it sometimes leads to congestion. So, 5G NR will mostly utilize millimeter wave spectrum for higher speeds. The advantage of higher bandwidths is that they will allow significantly higher bandwidth to support much higher data throughput rates. The disadvantage is that they are having much shorter range due to atmospheric attenuation. However, it will also more frequency re-use.

Frequency ranges used by 5G NR are as follow:

  1. Frequency Range 1 (FR1) – includes sub-6 GHz frequency bands
  2. Frequency Range 2 (FR2) – includes frequency bands in mmWave range (24-100 GHz)

Massive MIMO: MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) has been a key factor which enhances performance of existing technologies like 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi. 5G is going to take full advantage of MIMO by implementing Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO). MIMO is the efficient use of multiple antennas at transmitter and receiver for higher throughput.

Beamforming: Beamforming offers to provide significant advantages to 5G. It enables the beam from the base station to be directed towards the specific User Equipment (UE). The use of higher frequencies also allow the use of smaller antennas. These smaller antennas are able to accurately direct the beam to the receiver.

Small cells: As higher frequency radio waves are subject to attenuation and hence having the shorter range, network densification is required by installing several base stations every few meters. This is how small cells come into the picture. One area will have multiple small cells which will collectively enhance the network throughput and performance while still promising the availability.

This is the basic information about 5G NR. In coming posts, I will cover more about the same.

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