5G trends for 2019

Here is my collection of relevant trend for 5G networks for 2019:

The most newsworthy stories in wireless today are all about 5G. In 2019, we enter a cautious, early-adoption phase of this next generation of wireless technology. 2019 will be the year when we see the first commercial networks turning on and first handsets arriving in the market. Only a small number of users will get a first taste of 5G in specific geographic locations, using specific applications, none of which are ubiquitous or cost-optimized.

5G promises a paradigm shift in throughput, latency, and scalability.We are not here yet, and may not reach those all those promises in 2019 because we might have to wait to 2020 to get a good selection of devices that can use 5G networks.The initial 5G market in 2019 might not be yet very big. The real business could start in 2020.

It is expected that by 2025, the emerging wireless 5G market is expected to reach a total value of $250B1. 5G is projected to be 100 times faster than 4G LTE. Ericsson over 1 billion 5G subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband by the end of 2023, accounting for around 12% of all mobile subscriptions. By end of 2023, close to 50% of all mobile subscriptions in North America are forecast to be for 5G. For Western Europe 5G penetration is expected to be at 21%.

Plenty of publications are going to claim 2019 as “The Year of 5G,” but we are just seeing the first wave which could be seen as not meeting the 5G hype. 5G will arrive into this world as a marketing gimmick. When it does fully roll out, 5G has the potential to be a great but is in a risk that it is already oversold (like what happened to 3G initially). Sure, widespread use is still a few years away, but before handset manufacturers, embedded devices for industrial applications, connected cars, and the like begin to take hold, some infrastructure needs to be in place.

There will be exciting 5G applications coming in 2019. All of the hype and irrational exuberance of a few years ago are turning into initial pilot deployments. 5G is just now getting close to emerging into real wireless networks. Despite the hype, there’s still plenty of work to do and improvements to make.  And there will be failed attempts to build those new networks and applications.

The main features of the 5G are high capacity, short delay and the ability to connect a massive number of IoT sensors to the network. 5G network can be used to implement customized network services that are suitable for different needs. The capacity of the 5G network serves to exponentially increase the amount of data.The short delay is important in many different industries. Delay is of great importance in the remote control of self-propelled vehicles and other machines and equipment. It is also seen as useful for AI applications.

Networks start up

Next year, it will be interesting, for example, when the first commercial 5G networks start up.

What is true 5G will be asked often. One question to consider is if these deployed networks will be “true 5G.” It will depend on how 5G is defined. An accepted definition of a 5G subscriber is a device supporting the New Radio (NR) protocol connected to an NR base station. This is independent of which spectrum band the network utilizes. We will see NR deployed across the entire spectrum range depending on what assets operators have available to support their strategy. For the sub-6-GHz infrastructure, Release 15 radio standards specifications are comprehensive. For mmWave the technology has not been defined so clearly yet.5G deployments have begun. Carriers have promised to begin rolling out the technology in the States early 2019. Most initial deployments may be on sub-6-GHz bands, but there will be some fixed wireless use cases using millimeter-wave (mmWave) technologies.

Initially, 5G will provide the ability to deliver mobile broadband at lower cost to operators, but as full NR capability emerges, there are some exciting applications and use cases forthcoming. Industrial automation is one of the promising use cases that may leverage the low latency and high reliability provided by future 5G networks. If you recall the original IMT2020 KPIs set out by the ITU, there are several requirements that will certainly be met, but don’t expect all of the KPIs to be achieved by any operator on Day 1.

We will see NR deployed across the entire spectrum range depending on what assets operators have available to support their strategy.

Based on recent announcements from key industry players (i.e., Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile), the first 5G commercial deployments will likely commence during the second half of 2019, with a target to have 5G commercial service available in 2020.
One question to consider is if these networks will be “true 5G.” It will depend on how 5G is defined. AT&T’s 5G network goes live in 12 cities — but you can’t use it yet because 5G device sales don’t start until next year.

For example, the 5G services soon launched by the Finnish operators are based on Non-Standalone (NSA) standard standard, where the data stream runs along the 5G radio path, but the control and control data of the connection passes through the LTE channel.

5G networks will be more or less cloud based. Mobile Operator DNA introduces Nokia’s cloud platforms in its upcoming 5G networks. With the new features, the degree of automation, capacity and programmability of today’s networks can be raised to a new level, according to DNA.

What is the indoor coverage of a 5G network compared to a 4G network? The 3.5 gigahertz frequency used by Telia behaves very similarly to the frequencies used so far, and the 3.5 gigahertz 5G networks are built on the same base stations as the 4G networks.

Once 5G uses mmWave signals, there will still be a lower-frequency (sub 6 GHz) “anchor” to handle data when there’s no mmWave service available. mmWave service will likely be used only when available and needed. Connectivity will be constant in sub 6 GHz bands. For example in Finland majority of first 5G activity will be at 3.5 GHz.We will need both mmWave and lower frequencies to provide what was promised. The very high frequency mmWave is needed to get enough bandwidth to fast data rates.

It seems that many network operators will be retaining all their 4G infrastructure for quite long time. When 5G wireless phone subscribers who don’t enable Wi-Fi end up in 5G dead spots, they’ll be connected via 4G instead. So the bright 5G future for an awful lot of mobile phone use will actually be Wi-Fi and 4G.


There will be many new mobile chips coming.Release 15 has provided SoC makers such as Qualcomm and Intel with what they need to get baseband processors out the door.

Qualcomm has unveiled the next generation of its Snapdragon family of processors, the 855 – the first chip optimized for bringing 5G connectivity to mobile devices. The 855 is manufactured with a 7-nanometer process. The Snapdragon 855, along with its X50 modem, position the company to dominate the first wave of 5G devices. Samsung and Verizon will partner to release a 5G smartphone using Qualcomm processors in the first half of 2019. AT&T says it’s getting that 5G Samsung phone, too. Currently, at least 18 major companies — including Samsung, Nokia / HMD, Sony, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, HTC, LG, Asus, ZTE, Sharp, Fujitsu, and OnePlus — are working with Qualcomm and its Snapdragon X50 5G NR modems.

Intel is putting bets on its new XMM 8160 5G modem. The XMM 8160 modem is set to be released to manufacturers sometime in the second half of 2019, with the first devices using the chip coming in early 2020. Intel says that the modem will support both millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum as well as lower-band parts of the spectrum. This Intel’s new 5G modem might power Apple’s first 5G iPhones because the company recently switched to using Intel modems exclusively for its 2018 iPhone XS and XR phones.

Huawei and Samsung are both also working on their own in-house 5G modems, too.

5G smartphones

At the moment, the expectation is that equipment manufacturers will bring the first 5G devices to consumers in the market in 2019.

Telia expects that the first devices will be routers, and tablets. It seems that in the first phase, 5G connections will be available to consumers in the form of broadband routers. Inseego has showed a mobile 5G hotspot it will launch at CES for Verizon’s network.

We’re going to see the first wave of 5G handsets appearing in 2019. At least OnePlus, Samsung, and Huawei will compete for the title of the first 5G smartphone.Huawei has promised 5G smart phone before summer. OnePlus and LG have committed to a handset and Samsung, being Samsung, has since committed to two. There will be possibly also other handsets available. It is expected that “flagship” high-end handsets will be the first to integrate some form of 5G radio. Apple is not expected to release a 5G handset until 2020.

There has been already some test 5G smart phones showed on tech shows. Samsung has showed an early version of its first 5G smartphone streaming 4K video to a large-screen TV. Motorola has demoed a 5G upgrade module that attached to its LTE smartphone.

Will you be holding a 5G smartphone in your hands in 2019? If you pay attention to the news, there’s a good chance of that happening. Will You Own a 5G Smartphone in 2019? For most people maybe not. The first 5G service plan prices will be expensive and the speeds will be considerably slower than maximums. In the beginning your 5G handset will likely spend a lot more time using 4G for quite many years. It means that until 5G becomes more ubiquitous, you’re going to be paying a hefty premium for a feature you barely use

What’s the status of 5G standards?

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is defining the 5G standard, which needs to meet the following technical requirements, as defined by the International Telecommunication Union:

>10-Gb/s peak data rates for the enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB)
>1 M/km2 connections for massive machine-type communications (MMTC)
<1-ms latency for ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC).

The 5G standard will be defined in two subsequent releases – Release 15 and Release 16.

The Non-Stand-Alone spec came out in 2017 with the stand-alone spec released in June 2018. 3GPP Release 15 is almost done. Updates will include dual connectivity, the ability to simultaneously support LTE and 5G New Radio (5G NR). Download links will likely have both LTE and NR, possibly in the same frequency band but upload could stick to using only one connection. For the sub-6-GHz infrastructure, Release 15 radio standards specifications are comprehensive. Release 15 has provided SoC makers such as Qualcomm and Intel with what they need to get baseband processors out the door. Most of the forward-looking features reside in the baseband and generally will be implemented in software. Release 15 laid down the foundation to enable initial SoCs to be defined and subsequent first user devices to be available in 2019. For mmWave, we are still early in the game.

Work for Release 16 will start with mobile V2x communications. IoT is another aspect of Release 16. We will have to wait for it to become ready.


Lower latency, on the order of 1 ms, is an expected feature of 5G. It will be needed for industrial control applications and even more so in V2X communications needed for connected cars. This is the promise, but I expect that the first 5G networks might not be able to fulfill this 1 ms promise.

5G will also drive radio channel counts, whether it be for macro, massive MIMO, small-cell, or mmWave form factors. Macro base stations in the low bands will expand MIMO channel counts from 2T2R to 4T4R and possibly higher. Massive MIMO radios will have increased radio density per system ranging from 16T16R to 64T64R, and mmWave radios will have up to 256 RF channels in the analog beamformers.

Much of the work is still focused on infrastructure: the radios and networks that will carry all that data. There’s still plenty of R&D activity going on modems, antenna arrays, amplifiers, data converters, etc. Power amplifiers (PAs) are a critical component of 5G base stations and user equipment. Because 5G’s emphasis on power savings, engineers are designing PAs using GaN power transistors with some using the Doherty amplifier architecture. We need to continue to reduce size, weight, and power (SWaP) consumption while supporting wider bandwidths and higher operating frequencies.

5G systems claim to be more open than older telecom systems and they use open source components. The mobile industry’s equivalent of open source is Open RAN, which will enable a service creation environment that can help realize the more advanced 5G use cases.

There are hurdles that need to be cleared before full 5G deployment can be achieved. First, we need new spectrum. This is well underway globally with many countries allocating spectrum for 5G. Ideal spectrum allocations for 5G are on the order of 50 MHz or more of contiguous spectrum to take full advantage of NR.

Test equipment is showing signs of use outside the engineering lab as equipment manufacturers and network installers need 5G test equipment. If you design devices that will connect to 5G networks, you’ll probably need also simulations

With 5G moving out of the lab and onto the street, we will see lots of announcements regarding collaborations the bring 5G design and test products to market. Anritsu and Qualcomm succeeded in testing the 5G-SA connection (Standalone) with the MT8000A testing system and the Qualcomm 5G terminal with 5G NR modem (Snapdragon X50). The commercial offering of these “genuine” 5G connections will begin in China next year.

New interface ODI could be important for 5G testing. Six companies along with the AXIe Consortium and the VITA trade industry group have endorsed a new standard called Optical Data Interface (ODI). ODI is a high-speed interface for instrumentation and embedded systems, supporting speeds up to 80 GBytes/s. ODI is now positioned to address difficult challenges in 5G communications, mil/aero systems, and high-speed data acquisition.

Changes to core network

Core networks need to evolve. Because 5G is expected to reduce latency and increase reliability over LTE, core networks will evolve into software-defined networks (SDNs) that will treat data differently depending on use case. The radio-access networks (RANs) will be modified first to handle 5G NR, but the data packets will route to the 4G core network. Over time, a 5G network core will roll out.

Deploying 5G will require distinct indoor and outdoor strategies. 5G base stations will have to be spaced more closely, necessitating more of them, especially in densely populated areas compared to 3G or 4G. Dual-mode operation (4G/5G + WiFi)  is a blessing for operators evolving their networks to 5G. Indoor reception problems are guaranteed with 5G; higher-frequency millimeter wave signals in particular will not penetrate walls.

We will need both mmWave and lower frequencies to provide what was promised. The very high frequency mmWave is needed to get enough bandwidth to fast data rates. But the higher the frequency of a wireless signal, the less well it propagates and the less able it is to penetrate obstacles. Water vapor will cause signal loss at 24 GHz. Oxygen is an impediment at 60 GHz. Verizon and Samsung recently announced a successful data transmission using 800 MHz of bandwidth at 28 GHz, resulting in a maximum throughput of almost 4 Gb/s. A lot of traditional players now talk about how active antennas will become prevalent in mmWave.

There will be need for very many small 5G base stations. Maybe not in 2019, but some years later on urban networks. The strategy has been a combination of small cells with massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antennas to increase coverage. Wireless network operators have been considering small cells for more than 15 years, but if small cells were the best solution for anything we’d have them already. Maybe it is necessity for mmWave based 5G networks. Previous estimates have been that the average distance between 5G base stations might be 250m to 300m. But now most equipment designers are targeting 150 meters to 200 meters apart everywhere, simply to get adequate coverage.

Wireless operators are going to have to install more 5G base stations than they did to support 4G, they’re going to have to install more 5G base stations than they originally estimated. We need lots of new 5G base stations and innovation how to install them to our environment.There will be many different approaches. Manhole cover can server as antennas. 5G base stations will be integrated to street lights, bus stops and advertisement displays.

IoT and autonomous cars

The standards for 5G will be defined in large part by the direct integration of Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial IoT (IIoT) devices into global networks and devices. There is not yet ready 5G standards for those applications. So for 2019 IoT and IIoT will need to be pretty much stick to 4G technologies like NB-IoT and LTE-M. For 5G to shape industrial computing application in larger scale than just some small tests we will have to wait till 2020. Researchers seeking to impact 5G technologies are focused on how to properly introduce this new species of computing into the mobile networking ecosystem.

Work for Release 16 will start with mobile V2x communications. IoT is another aspect of Release 16, which should make IoT communications more efficient, reliable and lower the latency.

It is believed that 5G’s “big data pipe” will make vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) technologies even more powerful than originally planned. Having a high-data-rate pipe is essential to allowing vehicles to exchange information with each other. Future safety technologies could get bigger with the advent of 5G cellular communications. 5G offers data rates measured in Gigabits per second, whereas the dedicated short-range communication system (DSRC) originally intended for V2X is measured in Megabits per second. More bandwidth could translate into more information and greater safety. There’s also a new evaluation methodology being defined for V2X use cases including vehicle platooning, advanced driving to enable semi-autonomous or fully-autonomous driving, and remote driving.

The 5G technology is first utilized in the industrial sector, where it has promised to have many applications. Addressing the issues behind Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices is important. Qualcomm, the largest supplier of modem chips used in smartphones, has introduced the X50 modem to give IIoT devices the ability to communicate over 5G networks.


Is 5G Technology a Blessing or a Curse for Security? The answer depends who you ask it. There are conflicting schools of thought about 5G security. Ericsson asserts that security has been built into 5G from the ground upInverse report warns that 5G’s inevitable internet of things (IoT) wave could create massive security headaches. I think the technology is new and it is inevitable that there will be many security issues until most of them get sorted out.

Trade war hits 5G

The USA vs China trade war will have some effect on the 5G development. USA has claimed that Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE can use their telecom gear to spy on users. The Chinese telecommunications company Huawei is under scrutiny around the globe over concerns that its close ties with the Chinese government present national security threats to the U.S., Europe and allied countries.

Chinese Huawei has been subjected to a number of countries’ teeth when its network devices are not approved for 5G operators.

Countries like the United States, Australia and Japan have blocked Huawei from building their next-generation, super-fast 5G internet networks. Over the summer, Australia barred Huawei from providing 5G technology for wireless networks over espionage fears. In New Zeland GCSB bans Spark from using Huawei gear for its 5G mobile upgrade. In UK BT plans to remove the Chinese firm’s gear from the core of its networks. Germany’s IT watchdog has expressed scepticism about calls for a boycott of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. German security authority BSI (Das Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik) had not found any evidence that Huawe’s equipment would in any way be less secure than its competitors.

The current situation has caused annoyance, even despair in Huawei’s leadership. Will there be any effect for 5G development of this? SoftBank Corp sees no tech impact from not using Huawei gear.


Due to the fast-growing 4K/8K ultra-HD video applications and the ever increasing use of AR and VR applications, 5G is needed to supplement the capacity of 4G networks.

Social Automation with 5G: About 20 percent of smart phone users believe that 5G will make it easier to connect to different IoT devices, such as home appliances and many home appliances. I think that those believes are not to be realized by 5G in 2019, because making connections to IoT devices easier is not about 5G, but IoT systems development in general. Adding 5G to the IoT communications jungle had potential to first make configuring the devices harder (more networking options means more complicated settings on device).

Operators have claimed many different applications that 5G would make it possible. In many cases those could be made without 5G and even might have already done before 5G networks become live. Here are some examples:

Remote surgery: Ahmedabad Doctor Claims World’s First Telerobotic Heart Surgery on Patient 32 KM Away article tells that Dr Tejas Patel, an internationally renowned cardiologist, claims to have performed the world’s first cardiovascular stent surgeryoperating from a remote area. I did not seem any mention of 5G used there. I expect that this was performed using fixed network connections that are available now and are more reliable than wireless systems like 5G.

Self driving cars: They are already being tested without 5G. 5G could help here. For Self driving cars have multitude of challenges to get them run properly, and 5G will help to solve only few of them. We will need to wait for Release 16 standard to be implemented to network to see the benefits to autonomous traffic.

Artificial intelligence: We are already doing that without 5G. The current trends seems to be that the AI is made both at the edge device and in the cloud. Using this architecture 5G does not seem to do very much at the moment to help AI solutions.

Industrial applications: The short delay is said to be important in many different industries. And the 5G will be important for industrial applications. I am still waiting for real applications to appear. One question for critical industrial applications will be how reliable the 5G network will be. In the beginning there will always be issues in keeping the network reliable in changing wireless conditions and when the brand new devices have software bug in them. For industrial applications we need to find niches where benefits out-weight the potential risks that network might not be very reliable.

Be warned of “fake 5G”

5G will arrive into this world as a marketing gimmick. We will see lots of “fake 5G” marketing in 2019.

I expect we will see many first commercial 5G network press releases. Many marketers will try to frame their 5G offering to form in which they can claim it to be he “the first commercial 5G”. I expect that many of those news releases will be publishes in magazines as news that claim that 5G just started for real now.Was this really the first commercial 5g networks? Hard to say for sure and depends on criteria what is considered to be be “commercial 5G network”.

This can also mean that something that is not really still only 4G is rebranded as being 5G solution. Verge reports that AT&T customers will start to see a 5G logo appear in the corner of their smartphone next year — not because they’re using a 5G phone connected to a 5G network, but because AT&T is going to start pretending its most advanced 4G LTE tech is 5G.

Another example Forum Virium 5G test project in Helsinki Finland will use 4G LTE based NB-IOT and LTE-M technologies for IoT communications because 5G IoT standards are not ready yet and claims that those 4G solutions are 5G compatible (whatever it means). I think those are confusing and borderline deceptive moves designed to win the coming advertising wars around 5G.

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