5G Implementation & Deployment: Why, What & How

September 30, 2022

Why Do We Need 5G?

Fifth-generation communication networks,”5G”, combined with Big Data Analytics and the Internet of things (#IoT) are poised to become foundational to the digital economy. Over the last 40 years, we have experienced four generations of mobile networks. First-generation mobile networks (“1G”) now seem ancient to us. But 2G, 3G and 4G networks are still being operated. Moreover, certain elements inherited from 3G and 4G infrastructure will organically be integrated into #5G mobile networks.

The first generation of mobile technologies - 1G - enabled mobile phones to become a mass market product. With the advent of 2G, SMS (short message service) was introduced (GPRS, Edge). The transition into 3G provided us with high-speed data transfer services (HSPA) and mobile access to the Internet MBB (Mobile BroadBand) bringing the world wide web to the plams of our hands. Finally, 4G technology with MBB access based on LTE, LTE-A and the transfer of voice brought mobile internet speeds to the level necessary for transmitting videos with minimal buffering!

5G networks significantly expands the functionality of mobile networks of previous generations and is a major jump in comparison with its predecessor - 4G. 5G boasts a  download speed of 20 Gbit/s, which is about 20 times faster than 4G. Additionally, it can handle a much higher cell density (connected devices per square km) making it an IoT enabler.

The 5G network platform provides operators with significant advantages, expressed primarily in expanding the functionality and characteristics of the network (performance) and increasing user satisfaction (User Experience). The figure below shows the main parameters of the IMT-2020 (5G) network, compared with the IMT-Advanced (4G) indicators.

5G networks open a plethora of use-cases which require high speeds and latency. Graphically rich games, immersive virtual reality (#VR)/Augmented reality (#AR), fixed wireless broadband communication, remote healthcare, large-scale use of IOT, automated factories, autonomous vehicles and even delivery drones. It’s an exciting time to be a Telecom!

Which innovative applications of 5G should we expect in the future?

1. Industrial Automation and the Enterprise of the Future

5G networks, combined with IIoT (Industrial Internet of things) industrial sensors, enables industries to reach an unprecedented level of monitoring/observability. When used in tandem with AI, this can significantly increase the degree of production automation.

With a 5G wireless network, enterprises can  improve reliability, reduce latency, and increase production efficiency. In a world where humans and robots coexist and work together, seamless  telecommunication capabilities are a must!

2. Smart City

The concept of Smart Cities will make our lives more convenient, safer, and our work more productive and efficient. The Internet of Things combined with 5G brings a new level of control over urban infrastructure and is a pre-requisite for the creation of a Safe City: e-Government, e-Health, e-Education, e-Bank, Smart Meters, Smart Grid, etc.

Also, a whole range of different IoT services will be available for Smart Home, Smart Building, Smart Port solutions.

3. 4K/8K Video Services

Building a 5G-based infrastructure for 4K/8K UHD streaming requires high upload/download speeds. Gone are the days where you need to buffer/pre-download videos onto your phone. With 5G, you can stream UHD videos straight to your device without interruption. Just make sure you have an unlimited GB contract if you want to avoid buying an MB top up since the MBs burn away on this one!

4. Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR)

VR/AR applications require low network latencies and real-time response, which was previously not possible without a fixed connection. With the introduction of 5G, these services will serve not only for entertainment, games and virtual communication from the comfort of your home, but also, for example, will significantly improve the learning and work process on the field where there is no fixed connectivity.

5. Mission Critical Applications

These applications may include e-Health, Mission Critical Communication, Tactile Internet, among others. For instance, 5G opens up the possibility of delivering high-quality medical care in rural areas, for example, by enabling remote patient monitoring through wearable biosensors that record vital signs and transmit information to a cloud-based diagnostic data center.

6. Driverless Vehicles

The introduction of completely unmanned vehicles is within reach. This includes not only driverless cars, but also Smart Agriculture unmanned tractors, unmanned trains for metro and railways, and other modes of transport. Fast moving vehicles need a strong connection so they can interact with each other and operate as an intelligent fleet rather than separate entities. 5G has the capacity to improve safety and efficiency!

5G  challenges

While it’s exciting to imagine all what’s possible with 5G, we still have a long way ahead of us before its operating at full capacity. Let's take a look at a few of the major challenges companies face when implementing 5G.

1. Investments

One of the challenges for operators around the world is the investment needed to modernise infrastructure. The addition of 5G network infrastructure components means more hardware and supporting software is needed. For example, a microcell installation costs about $200,000, while small cells cost about $10,000 each. According to GSMA The Mobile Economy 2022 report, between 2022 and 2025, companies will invest $620 billion in their networks, of which 85% will be in 5G, and by the end of 2022, the number of global 5G connections will reach one billion.

2. Complexity and Infrastructure Update

The deployment of 5G networks began in 2019. 5G networks are growing at an unprecedented pace around the world, and with the rapid development of the wireless communications industry, the deployment of 5G creates additional infrastructure challenges, as 5G networks are more complex than previous generation mobile networks. 5G is fundamentally different from 4G and will need to build an entirely new type of network in the future to unlock its full potential, with most 5G deployments currently building on existing 4G infrastructure. 5G network infrastructure requirements include mmWave frequencies, which can only cover a short distance, meaning more masts and equipment are needed in more locations.

In addition to the fact that it is necessary to update the infrastructure, the amount of data that will need to be processed is growing exponentially and it will be impossible for network operators to manually track them, process and proactively respond to emerging problems and failures.

3. Delays in deployment and use of frequencies (example)

The deployment of 5G networks in Europe has been slow compared to the US and South Korea. The ETNO Association (European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association) Digital Communications Status Report 2022 shows that 5G adoption in Europe accounts for just 2.8% of total mobile connections compared to 13.4% in the US and 29.3% in South Korea.

In addition to the technical challenges of deploying telecoms, there are also organisational challenges, as can be seen from the current situation in the Netherlands. A 3.5GHz frequency is needed for 5G deployment in the country, but due to market conditions, mobile operators and businesses need to be patient and wait longer than it might be. 300 MHz in the middle band of the spectrum should be allocated to mobile operators for 5G services, but at the moment this frequency is used by intelligence services and satellite operator Inmarsat uses part of the 3.5 GHz frequencies to provide satellite security services. As a result, it is not possible to deploy 3.5 GHz 5G in the northern part of the Netherlands until the current frequency usage is resolved.

4. 5G Security Issues

The universal connectivity of 5G will increase threats to cybersecurity and data privacy. Historically, the mobile industry has done a good job at deterring cyberattacks, but a new combination of factors - 5G virtual core, private network slicing, IoT connections - will bring new threats. Each new device, is a new threat vector that could be exploited by hackers.

To protect 5G networks from hacking, cybersecurity technologies need to be significantly improved. Some problems are related to the network itself, others are related to the devices connected to it. Both can be a source of risk for consumers, commercial and government organizations.

More routing points are needed for dynamic 5G software-based systems. To ensure security, each of them must be constantly checked. Also, high throughput requires a review of protection methods. The speed and performance of modern networks are limited, which actually makes it easier for providers to monitor the level of network security in real time. Therefore, the benefits of the extended range of the 5G network can simultaneously compromise its security.

Many IoT devices are not secure. The lack of encryption when establishing a connection opens up access to information about the device, which malicious actors can use to target such a device through an IoT connection. Attacks on the 5G security protocol can also cause network segments to fail and launch denial-of-service attacks. Telecoms must proceed carefully!

5. Remote Locations

Primarily, 5G deployment is more focused on urban areas, as at this stage, deployment in rural and remote areas is not a priority and may even be considered unprofitable, even though 5G can be widely applied in agriculture and mining, where remote access is required.

Near future: 5G spread, infrastructure automation & managing complexity

According to the GSMA, in 2021, the number of mobile Internet subscribers worldwide reached 4.2 billion, while the adoption of 5G continues to grow rapidly, and the total number of connections is expected to reach 1 billion by 2022. The GSMA notes that 5G adoption rates are the fastest in the mobile industry, with 5G accounting for about a quarter of all mobile connections by the end of 2025, more than three times the 2021 figure (8%). The spread of 5G will result in 4G networks accounting for only 55% of total connections by 2025, compared to a peak of 58% in 2021. According to GSMA forecasts, by 2025 the number of subscribers will grow to 5.7 billion (70% of the world population), 5 billion will have access to mobile Internet.

Delays in infrastructure expansion, as well as the slow deployment of 5G networks continue to be a major problem for Telecoms. To prepare the infrastructure for the full launch of 5G services, telcos continue to connect towers, strengthen their fiber and backhaul infrastructure. However, the manually driven  processes and rule-based alarming that mobile operators use in previous generations of cellular communications cannot support this complex new ecosystem. The rapid growth of network complexity is generating an explosion of data that needs to be processed locally for monitoring purposes. Therefore, companies must invest not only in infrastructure, but also in automation and managing complexity.

More frequent and more complex outages will impact Telecom’s business continuity massively until a more resilient infrastructure is built to meet the growing demand for bandwidth, and automated monitoring of increasingly complex network processes and growing “data oceans” is in place.

Automation is not only a necessity, but also a commercial benefit for companies. According to the ETNO Association report, ETNO members lag behind their peers in other regions of the world in terms of income generated per worker. There are significant differences between hyper-scale companies and telecom operators, but a higher degree of automation is known to increase revenue per employee.

The use of data-driven solutions in the form of artificial intelligence or related analytics tools is a critical element in improving operational efficiency, improving service quality, and support increasingly complex new 5G use cases. European Operators are also investing in Big Data, analytics and more advanced AI solutions to move from a reactive to a proactive form of Network Operations.

With the full-scale launch of 5G, Operators must not only be able to automate the management of a rapidly growing volume of data, but also analyse complexity, detect anomalies proactively, cluster them and make informed decisions in real time before there is any service impact.

To ensure the continuity of critical IT infrastructures and unlocks superhuman abilities for Ops teams, OPT/NET BV created OptOSS AI - the most complete AI driven Ops platform for managing critical networks.

Watch our video, where we will introduce you the functionality and capabilities of OptOSS AI by looking inside the platform and see how we are doing our part in supporting Telecoms in their journey to capitalise on 5G.  

Send us an email to if you’d like to request a personal Live Demo where we will show you even more features of OptOSS AI 6.6.0 applicable to your business and answer all your questions.