5G Development – News from Standardization Field
5G is a continually developing story. The first phase 5G deployments are based on a combination of 4G core and 5G radio networks offering evolved mobile broadband services whereas the second phase will start providing us with the evolved 5G performance and more capabilities addressing a variety of user groups such as highly advanced virtual reality applications. The standardization of the second phase, aka 3GPP Release 16, is expected to be completed in a few months, and the respective, first set of equipment and networks will be ready soon after. The Release 16 is especially important as it is meant to comply with the ITU IMT-2020 vision for the connected society, and is the reference requirements for the global, fully capable 5G system.
More information on the current 3GPP Release 16 schedule: https://www.3gpp.org/release-16
5G in Telemedicine
The new generation of mobile communications, 5G, is designed to serve better a variety of verticals such as automotive, telematics, critical communications and many more user types. Thanks to the virtualization of the network architecture, 5G can use optimally adjusted Network Slices, “networks over networks”, which use the essential instances of the virtualized resources without wasting capacity. As a result, each network slice can offer a good balance of the required performance and the resource utilization whereas previous networks offer merely a uniform service level for all the users. One of the verticals that can greatly benefit from the network slicing is the telemedicine. As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shows, it is highly challenging for medical professionals to diagnose all the patients physically. While 5G coverage and the fuller set of capabilities are developing, they can start providing additional means to perform some of the essential tasks such as follow-up appointments remotely via fast transmission of high-resolution photos and video. This saves time and increases personal safety of the people. While waiting for the 5G to evolve, even the current, initial 5G can already greatly benefit in offering additional capacity with the other wireless and wired communications systems. As indicated by the report of AT&T (1), hospitals are already using a variety of secure telecommunications technologies to advance telehealth. Also Verizon, among other US companies, investigates how especially 5G can transform healthcare (2). These investigations indicate that 5G wireless networks will be, in fact, essential base for new solutions in preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic care.