• 5G to deliver 10Gbps throughput and 1 millisecond latency
  • Du is proposing cost per byte to be merely 1 per cent of current fee
  • Green energy will be tapped

Local telcoms firm Du plans to be among the first telecoms companies in the world to commercially deploy 5G, the fifth-generation mobile network system.

It wants to have its 5G network available for customers by 2021, provided the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has approved the system.

Compared with the current 4G network, the latest variant of which is called the LTE-A (long-term evolution – advanced), 5G is expected to deliver up to 100 times greater throughput (download) speeds, at 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) and 30 times latency (response time) at 1 millisecond (1ms).

Conceptually, 5G will be able to accommodate 1 million connected devices a square kilometre, compared to the current 10,000. It will accommodate a rail speed of up to 500 kilometres per hour (km/h) compared to 4G’s supported speed of 350km/h, so that if travelling by train, the communication cells can bounce the signal from one to another faster to ensure that customers can still access mobile data.

Du is part of the ITU 5G Study Group, which will work on the standardisation and prototyping of 5G. This process is expected to take two years, starting in 2016, followed by field trials, which are expected to take place between 2018 to 2020. If everything goes to plan, the ITU will endorse the commercial deployment of 5G starting in 2021.

“If a prototype that follows the agreed standards is ready by 2020, then we will be among the first [telecoms companies] to deploy it,” says Saleem AlBlooshi, Du’s executive vice-president of Network Development and Operations. “We will do whatever it takes to make 5G commercially viable at the quickest possible time and at the most feasible price point.”

To date, Du’s planned input into the study group includes cost metrics. Its team is proposing that the cost per byte of data transmitted over a 5G network be equivalent to 1 per cent of the current cost when using 4G. Du is proposing that 5G’s planned incremental increase in speed should not be accompanied by an increase in cost.

The telcoms firm says it will also support the adoption of green energy, which could come in the form of low-power network devices or improvements in their heat dissipation. AlBlooshi said green measures will allow Du to reduce power-related operational costs.

Why 5G

5G is widely held as the most suitable response to the incremental shift in data and capacity consumption as the number of Internet-connected devices continues to accelerate, leading to the so-called internet of things (IoT). 5G will use air as radio access network (RAN), compared with the code division multiple access (CDMA) used in 3G networks. 5G would allow high-order multi-input, multi-output (MIMO) technology where “an array of antennae is installed in a device and multiple radio connections are established between a device and a cell”.

Some applications that 5G can support if it is able to deliver the promised speed and latency rates include remote medical procedures such as surgeries, superior entertainment experience like resource-intensive internet or web games all the way to wearable technologies.

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