The Future Of 5G Innovation Needs Infrastructure
The growing need for solid network infrastructure in the private and industrial sectors is a challenge for network operators and municipalities. There is agreement that 5G can compensate for the changing demands. However, the expansion requires an adapted infrastructure. In today’s digital world, Internet access is part of critical infrastructures, such as electricity and water. Great hopes are placed in 5G technology, which can connect more devices faster and more reliably. However, one must not forget that this connectivity also requires an underlying (physical) infrastructure.
More Devices And Access Points
The digital transformation is bringing more and more end devices and access points into our networks. There are currently around 5.3 billion mobile phone users worldwide. In addition, there are an estimated 30 billion IoT devices (Internet of Things, sensors, machines) worldwide today, with an expected 75 billion by 2025. At the same time, access to the Internet has changed drastically, a mix of 4G and 5G cellular networks with additional private networks using 5G and Wi-Fi. It is hoped that this technology mix will enable wireless connectivity even in remote regions of the world.
The connection of network access points with cloud infrastructures in data centers will gain importance in the future. To do this, the underlying infrastructure must be expanded. The integration of 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and 6E plays an essential role to cover a wide range of use cases. For example, municipalities want to introduce applications for dynamic parking, people counting, traffic management, waste management, security, and facial recognition. However, there are many siled applications with different data requirements and different security needs. If multiple applications are running on a single access point and that device fails, multiple services for consumers, government agencies, and businesses will fail at the same time.
Establishment Of A Connection Network
Typically, a top-down application design model is used to develop, for example, an intelligent parking or traffic control application, secure it, and then connect it to access points and terminals. This creates silos instead of relying on an integrated approach. A counter-proposal would be to build a basic connection network according to the bottom-up principle, which ensures redundancy, security, and power supply and is therefore the basis for many different applications. The ecological aspect is also particularly important: Hybrid fiber optic cables can not only provide high broadband connections but also supply access points with electricity, which can then be better protected against power failures and consume less electricity.
Challenge Increased Costs And Increasing Energy Demand
At the same time, the conversion to 5G is accompanied by more antennas and a higher number of fiber optic connections and access points that are attached to light poles, for example. This is also a security risk: it is quite easy to gain access to these installations. However, there are now integrated, intelligent light towers that hide wireless network components such as antennas, cables, and radio technology in a visually appealing design, provide appropriate security, and combine multiple network operators in one location to minimize the visual impact on our cities. Ideally, multiple network operators work together with a neutral host provider to simultaneously reduce space requirements and costs and minimize power consumption.
High costs due to increasing energy requirements play a role in particular with mMIMO technologies (Massive Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) because this wireless technology consumes 2.5 to 3 times more energy than current systems. This means that the millions of radio cells in the 5G network will require more energy than their LTE predecessors in the foreseeable future. Passive antennas require little energy to operate and are resource-saving in production, but operators will have to think more about their energy consumption in the future due to the increasing volume of traffic, especially if they expand their networks with mMIMO antennas.
Convergence Indoor And Outdoor Wireless Networks
Meanwhile, the convergence of networks is helping operators build intelligent networks. A Fiber Distribution Hub (FDH) can provide a high-density fiber-optic connection in a compact, weatherproof enclosure at poles, kiosks, bus shelters, and indoors or underground as a hub for onward distribution. Thanks to this plug-and-play device, network operators do not have to dig up the road every two years to lay the new infrastructure for expanded applications.
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