What is 5G and how will it affect our everyday lives and society? Here is a summary of what we know today.

5G in numbers:

  • 5G can deliver data rates between 1 and 10GB/second, which is 10 to 100 times faster than 4G networks
  • Extremely short delay; about a millisecond
  • Can support up to 100 times as many connected devices
  • 9% availability, which makes 5G much more stable than, for example, LAN or Wifi
  • 90% reduced energy consumption in the network
  • Up to 10 years of battery life for power-efficient IoT devices

Network slicing
5G’s core network will have a different structure than 4G, among other things because of so-called network slicing; where you divide up the same geographic network into diverse segments that have different speeds, security statuses and areas of application – and connect different types of networks around the world with similar properties. These networks can be customised to meet the specific needs of applications, services, devices, customers or operators.

Base stations and antennas
Concentration is a logical consequence of 5G. Higher capacity requires smaller cells. This means that more base stations will be needed but they become smaller, more precise and broadcast signal strengths will be weaker. A large number of these base stations will need to be connected to ensure a future-proof fiber-based network.

Development of 5G

The world is becoming more connected and in completely new ways – which will have effects that we can only imagine today. 5G is expected to revolutionize our culture in the same way that the mobile internet did when smartphones became part of people’s everyday lives. According to strategic analysis company Gartner, 20.8 billion devices are predicted to be connected by 2020, while others claim this figure will rise even higher over the next few years. So how do we meet this rapid development; where public services, businesses, entire industries and markets and not least our own behaviours and experiences are set to fundamentally change?

Infinite Potential
The success of 5G will be dependent on society’s ability to see it as something more than just a faster network. There is still a lot of uncertainty as to what 5G architecture will look like in the end but it will definitely be different from its predecessors and will enable a wide range of services that are impossible to offer on the networks that exist today. We need to understand this potential and not only learn how the technology will work but also how to manage, develop and invest in 5G to get the best possible experience for users.

Technology testing and working methods
5G technology is not yet fully developed. Work to establish specifications and standards is ongoing in Sweden, Europe and around the world. The possibilities are almost limitless with 5G, but like any other development it will take time before the technology is validated and investigations are fully conducted into which areas of use are possible and those that should be prioritized at the early stages of implementation. It is vital to test the technical potential, develop new ways of working and find new business models for how the expansion and use of 5G can be realised.

Business models and regulations

In order to further the development of 5G, operators and other participants need to be able to monitor, automate, analyze and earn money from 5G services. How can you pay, for example, for services and devices that are used in completely new ways that might challenge today’s system? Innovative business models and new regulatory systems will need to be developed to meet the changing technology landscape, including stakeholders that get new roles in the digital ecosystem. These new models and regulatory systems can create new ways of looking at, measuring and distributing value – both economic value as well as benefits to individuals and society.

In December 2017 Bloomberg estimated that the 5G industry will cost $200 billion a year from 2020. The industry needs to generate enough value to justify that cost. 5G is not just a digital development issue but a socio-economic one that needs to be solved in order to achieve long-term sustainability.

Umeå 5G will create a Business Model Lab to explore and discover new solutions for value and business models within digital transformation.

IoT and its connection to 5G

IoT means ‘Internet of Things’, or ‘Things of the Internet’ and is used to describe the things – such as devices and machines – that are expected to be connected to the internet in the future. Also known as ‘connected devices’, IoT is growing at a phenomenal rate. But in order for all these ‘things’ to be used on a much larger scale a new generation of wireless technology is required with real-time communication via a comprehensive, fast, stable and flexible bandwidth. 5G is the only solution that can deliver these conditions and is therefore intrinsically linked to the development of IoT.

IoT is already found in various branches of industries, such as the ‘Internet of Medical Things’ for medical devices. The next step is There is talk in the future of so-called IoE, the ‘Internet of Everything’ and the ‘Tactile Internet’ – where fast-paced, advanced networks will enables you to not only see and hear but also feel.

The future for European and Swedish 5G testing

The EU Commission has developed a 5G action plan to coordinate a common European timetable and standardization. This plan requires, among other things, that every EU country should have a 5G city online by 2020.

In Sweden the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) promotes work for 5G development by participating in international planning work as well as clarifying and creating opportunities for 5G development nationally. PTS has developed a spectrum plan for 5G tests, with the aim of establishing Sweden as one of the leading 5G nations in Europe. The spectrum plan enables large-scale testing operations until the end of December 2019. By 2020 the commercial 5G network will begin to be expanded throughout Sweden. PTS has done a preliminary study and recently started work on a 5G allocation project; 3.4-3.8 GHz has been identified as a pioneer band for 5G by the EU. This allocation is expected to take place by the end of 2019 and the start of commercial expansion is estimated to begin by 2020.

Umeå will be pronounced the first 5G city in Sweden and will have access to 200 MHz in the 3400 – 3600 MHz band during the 2018 – 2019 test period. This is the first large-scale test bed, both in terms of area and frequency, in a Swedish city. The only other comparable tests are conducted at AstaZero’s facility outside Borås, where 5G for autonomous cars is tested.