5G Technology

5G architecture diagram. Source: Devopedia, 2018.
5G architecture diagram. Source: Devopedia, 2018.

5G is next big evolution of telecom network from it's previous technologies of LTE, UMTS, and GSM. 5G is named as 5G unlike 4G aka LTE, or 2G aka GSM. 5G claims to offer high throughput with low latency and increased number of connected devices.

Millimeter Wave, Small Cell, Massive MIMO, Beamforming, and Fullduplex are the foundations for 5G. Major changes seen in 5G architecture is with network elements, signal processing, interfaces between network elements and protocol stack.

5G network is divided into two sections:

  • NG-RAN: NG-RAN is Next Generation Radio Access Network. This consists of gNB and ng-ENB.
  • 5G Core: 5G Core (5GC) part consists of AMF (Access and Mobility Management Function), UPF (User Plane Function), SMF (Session Management Function).


  • Which are the standard bodies working towards 5G?
    • 3GPP : The 3GPP is developing the 5G NR specification for 5G communications. It also defines standard User Equipment (UE) and 5G Core Network.
    • IETF : IETF is contributing towards routing-related work, traffic engineering, abstractions, network management, deterministic networking, and a new transport protocol name QUIC.
    • ITU : ITU has a rich history in the development of radio interface standards for mobile communications. The framework of standards for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), encompassing IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced, spans the 3G and 4G industry perspectives and will continue to evolve as 5G with IMT-2020.
  • What are the Key features of 5G?
    5G promises 100x faster downloads. Source: Shankland, 2015.
    5G promises 100x faster downloads. Source: Shankland, 2015.

    Among the key features are the following:

    • Up to 10 Gbps data rate, which is 10-100x improvement over 4G and 4.5G networks
    • 1 millisecond latency
    • 1000x bandwidth per unit area
    • Up to 100x number of connected devices per unit area (compared to 4G LTE)
    • 99.999% availability
    • 100% coverage
    • 90% reduction in network energy usage
    • Up to 10-year battery life for low power IoT devices
  • When we can see 5G working?
    5G development timeline. Source: Huawei, 2013, fig. 3.
    5G development timeline. Source: Huawei, 2013, fig. 3.

    According to projected timeline, the 5G project will possibly be executed in four stages: Research and Prototype, Defining Standard, Developing Product, Deployment.

  • What are the main techniques of 5G?
    • Millimeter Wave : New 5G technologies are making spectrum bands above 24 GHz, loosely known as mmWave, available for mobile broadband communications for the first time. The abundant spectrum available at these high frequencies is capable of delivering extreme data speeds and capacity that will reshape the mobile experience.
    • Massive MiMO : Massive MIMO is the currently most compelling sub-6 GHz physical-layer technology for future wireless access. The main concept is to use large antenna arrays at base stations to simultaneously serve many autonomous terminals. The rich and unique propagation signatures of the terminals are exploited with smart processing at the array to achieve superior capacity.
    • Beamforming : Beamforming is a type of RF management in which an access point uses multiple antennas to send out the same signal.
    • Full Duplex : This allow us to transmit and receive on same channel. Benefits include more spectrum efficiency, symmetric fading characteristics, better filtering, novel relay solutions and enhanced interference coordination.
    • Small Cell : Small cells are low-power mobile base stations. They operate in licensed or unlicensed spectrum, based on cellular technologies or Wi-Fi. Small cells can help 5G to achieve 1000x throughput.
  • What are the new network elements of 5G?

    The new network elements of NG-RAN are gNB and ng-ENB. It's key functions are Intercell Radio Resource Management, Resource Block Control, Radio Admission Control, Connection Mobility Control, Dynamic Resource Allocation (Scheduler), and Measurement Configuration and Provisioning.

    The new network elements of 5G Core section are Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF), User Plane Function (UPF), and Session Management Function (SMF). The important functions of AMF are NAS Security and Idle State Mobility Handling. The important functions of UPF are Mobility Anchoring and PDU Handling. The important functions of SPF are UE IP Address Allocation and PDU Session Control.

  • What are the new interfaces added in 5G?

    17 New interfaces (N1 to N16 and N22) are added to 5G Network.

  • What are the new protocols or layers does 5G add to the protocol stack?

    Two protocols are added:

    • SDAP : Service Data Adaptation Protocol sublayer offers to 5GC QoS flows. The main services and functions of SDAP are mapping between a QoS flow and a data radio bearer, and marking QoS flow ID (QFI) in both DL and UL packets.
    • NGAP : The NG Application Protocol supports the functions of the NG interface by signalling procedures.
  • What is 5G New Radio or 5G NR?

    5G NR is a new air interface being developed for 5G. An air interface is the radio frequency portion of the circuit between the mobile device and the active base station.station. 5G NR is being designed to significantly improve the performance, flexibility, scalability and efficiency of current mobile networks, and to get the most out of the available spectrum. It may licensed, shared or unlicensed, across a wide variety of spectrum bands.

  • What is Service-Based Architecture (SBA)?

    The goal is to migrate from telecom-style protocol interfaces to web-based APIs. The 5G core network will have a web-based interface unlike legacy telecom-style protocol interface. This is named as Service-Based Architecture (SBA).

    SBA uses service-based interfaces between control-plane functions, while user-plane functions connect over point-to-point links. The service-based interfaces will use HTTP/2 over TCP in the initial release, with QUIC transport being considered for later releases.

  • What are applications of 5G?

    Here are some 5G applications:

    • Online gaming and Virtual Reality
    • IoT and Industrial IoT
    • Cloud and video streaming (4K/8K, 3D)
    • Autonomous driving
    • Healthcare
    • Mission critical applications
  • Can you give some use cases of 5G?

    Below we characterize some use cases based on their performance attributes:

    • enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) : These use cases generally have requirements for higher data rates and better coverage
    • Massive Internet of Things (MIoT) : These use cases generally have requirements to support a very large number of devices in a small area, and therefore a very large device density
    • Critical Communications : These use cases have very strict requirements on latency and reliability, and are also referred to as Ultra Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC)
    • Fixed Wireless Access: These are early 5G deployments
  • What hardware/software upgrades are needed to support 5G?

    Hardware of ng-RAN network elements needs upgrades to support the following:

    • UWB (Ultra Wide Band) networks with higher BW at low energy levels
    • Smart antenna
    • CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access)

    Network elements of 5G Core needs software and hardware upgrades to support the following:

    • Unified IP & seamless combination of broadband
    • Software defined radio, encryption, flexibility
  • Who are the key players developing 5G products?

    Samsung, Intel, Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson and ZTE are involved in developing 5G products.

  • Can you explain how 5G technology is able to promise 1000x data throughput?
    What makes 5G promise 1000x data throughput. Source: Björnson, 2017.

    In general, capacity is composed of three parts: cell density, spectral efficiency and available spectrum. 5G improves capacity by improving each of these parts. Cell density can be increased provided interference is managed. Spectral efficiency can be improved by using an array of antennas so that all users in a cell can be sending/receiving at the same time using narrowly focused beams. This is what Massive MIMO is all about. Finally, more spectrum can be obtained if we go to millimeter waves, usually in the range of 30-300 GHz. However, this requires new hardware and signal propagation is limited.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of 5G?

    Advantages include these:

    • Increased number of connections
    • Low Latency
    • High Throughput

    Disadvantages include these:

    • Many of the old user devices would be incompetent to work under 5G
    • Developing infrastructure has high cost
    • Security and privacy must be ensured



Huawei introduces the concept of "Beyond LTE".


DoCoMo confirms 10 Gbps data rate transmission and reception at 11 GHz, 400 MHz BW.


Ericsson achieves 5 Gbps over 5G network.


The FCC set to promote 5 blocks of high-band spectrum at upcoming WRC event.


3GPP - 5G Workshop. 3GPP - Start Channel Model.


At the 3GPP - RAN1 meeting, proposals for 5G Radio are discussed.


3GPP - First 5G Release (starting Rel 15).


First 5G specs is approved, for Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR).


Technical Specification released as v15.x.x (38.211, 38.212, 38.214, 38.321, 38.322, 38.331).


  1. 3GPP. 2017a. "TS 37.324 - Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access (E-UTRA) and NR; Service Data Adaptation Protocol (SDAP) specification." June 20. Accessed 2018-02-20.
  2. 3GPP. 2017b. "TS 38.413 - Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access (E-UTRA) and NR; Service Data Adaptation Protocol (SDAP) specification." April 19. Accessed 2018-02-20.
  3. 3GPP. 2018a. "3GPP Specification 38 series." Accessed 2018-02-20.
  4. Alleven, Monica. 2017. "3GPP declares first 5G NR spec complete." FierceWireless. December 20. Accessed 2018-02-20.
  5. Bertenyi, Balazs. 2018. "3GPP system standards heading into the 5G era." 3GPP. Accessed 2018-02-20.
  6. Björnson, Emil. 2017. "How will wireless 5G technology handle 1000 times more data?" Linköping University, Sweden, on YouTube. October 27. Accessed 2018-02-20.
  7. Brown, Gabriel. 2017. "5G Core & the Service-Based Architecture." Light Reading. November 23. Accessed 2018-02-18.
  8. Cooper, Alissa. 2017. "Working Together with 3GPP on 5G." June 12. Accessed 2018-02-18.
  9. Gemalto. 2018. "Introducing 5G networks – Characteristics and usages." Accessed 2018-02-20
  10. Huawei. 2013. "5G: A Technology Vision". Technical Paper. Accessed 2018-02-20.
  11. ITU. 2018. "ITU towards 'IMT for 2020 and beyond'." Accessed 2018-02-20.
  12. Kavanagh, Sacha. 2018a. "What is 5G New Radio (5G NR)." Accessed 2018-02-18.
  13. Kavanagh, Sacha. 2018b. "Guide to Small Cells, HetNets and 5G." 5G.co.uk. Accessed 2018-02-22.
  14. Larsson, Erik G. 2017. "Massive MIMO for 5G." IEEE 5G Tech Focus, vol. 1, no. 1, March. Accessed 2018-02-18.
  15. Poole, Ian. 2018. "5G Full Duplex". Radio-Electronics. Accessed 2018-02-22.
  16. Qualcomm. 2017. "5G mmWave: the next frontier in mobile broadband." September 22. Accessed 2018-02-20.
  17. Rajiv. 2018. "Applications of 5G technology." RF Page. February 10. Accessed 2018-02-17.
  18. Rouse, Margaret. 2009. "Beamforming." TechTarget. Updated October. Accessed 2018-02-18.
  19. Shankland, Stephen. 2015. "How 5G will push a supercharged network to your phone, home, car." CNET. March 2. Accessed 2018-02-20.
  20. Sharetechnote. 2018. " 5G - Time Table." Accessed 2018-02-22.
  21. TutorialsPoint. 2018. "5G - Advantages & Disadvantages." Accessed 2018-02-20.

Further Reading

  1. Sutton, Andy. 2018. "5G Network Architecture, Design and Optimization." January 24. Accessed 2018-02-20.
  2. IEEE Spectrum. 2017. "Everything You Need to Know About 5G." YouTube. February 6. Accessed 2018-02-20.
  3. ETSI. 2018. "5G." Accessed 2018-02-20.

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Devopedia. 2020. "5G Technology." Version 30, January 6. Accessed 2020-11-24. https://devopedia.org/5g-technology
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Last updated on
2020-01-06 12:50:45

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  • Millimeter Wave
  • 5G Service-Based Architecture
  • Network Functions Virtualization
  • Software-Defined Networking
  • Network Slicing
  • Multiple Input Multiple Output

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