Industrial leaders believe that in the medium term, 4G will be the layer of choice for global mobile communications, while 5G will mainly be used in more industrial communications.
The latest report from GSA shows, by the end of May 2020, 386 operators globally had announced they were investing in 5G, among which 81 operators in 42 countries or territories. The operators in the countries launched 5G commercial services, including the most recent MTN 5G launch in South Africa.
5G, the fifth generation of mobile networks, will enable enhanced mobile broadband, mission-critical communications, and massive Internet of Things (IoT) communications between equipment.
But 4G or LTE networks remains the main goal of increasing digital communications.
The same LTE is also the foundation that informs the move to 5G.
Emmanuel Coelho Alves, Senior Marketing Director at Huawei said there is a need to redouble their effort for more digital transmission and inclusion to support United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and bring the excluded 3.9 billion of world’s population online. “It won’t be easy, but with cross-sector efforts from government and partners in the private sector, academia and civil society … we can achieve that,” he noted.
Alves was speaking at the recent online LTE Summit 2020 held by the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA).
Alves said that there had been progress in expanding global mobile broadband coverage, with almost 66 per cent of areas now covered. Of these, 90 per cent had access to high-quality networks such as 3G and 4G.
The GSMA report also noted that 80 per cent of the world’s population now has mobile coverage. Of these, half of connections are already on 4G.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, there are 456 million unique mobile subscribers, representing 44 per cent of people, with this proportion expected to grow to half by 2025.
The GSMA report predicts that Africa will be the fastest-growing global region, with a compound annual growth rate of 4.6 per cent. However, mobile broadband subscriber numbers remain significantly lower, with 239 million subscribers and a penetration rate of just 23 per cent.
Bringing Africa’s people into the mobile economy will require ongoing expansion of mobile broadband services such as 4G, with penetration expected to reach 39 per cent by 2025.
“4G provides an extremely good asset when you go later to 5G. It has been deployed widely in the past years. 4G is the capacity layer in city, leveraging massive MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) in hot spots with significant traffic,” Alves said.
By applying a standard known as ENDC (E-UTRAN New Radio – Dual Connectivity), network operators are able to use both 4G and 5G schedulers together.
It is also possible to use a technology known as DSS (dynamic spectrum sharing) to allow for real-time allocation of spectrum resources between 4G and 5G, depending on network traffic. This can be achieved with millisecond accuracy.
He added that currently, 4G is the main mobile broadband layer, and what is replacing 3G.
However, 4G networks already have the capabilities to guarantee an optimal user experience for 5G users, including services such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and cloud gaming.