Article | February 11, 2020
5G and its potential applications are an exciting technology for a number of reasons, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced an auction for wireless spectrum that could speed the deployment of this technology. A faster auction will allow for the benefits of faster connectivity to reach consumers more quickly. 5G is exciting not just for its potential to provide faster service and more connectivity on wireless networks, but also as the potential backbone for many emerging connected technologies such as various smart home devices and autonomous vehicles. Already consumers can see benefits of this new technology, such as improving safety and connectivity at the Super Bowl, and wireless companies such as AT&T and Verizon are planning to offer 5G nationwide by the end of year.
Article | May 19, 2021
The RAN (Radio Access Network) architecture for mobile networks includes a remote radio unit (RRU) located at the top of a cell tower, which communicates with a baseband unit (BBU) at the base of the tower. The hardware and communication interfaces are owned by a specific vendor, and its software-driven functionality is tightly coupled within the hardware.
Traditionally, this has worked well for mobile network operators (MNOs). However, there are several drawbacks to consider – for instance, upgrading or changing the wireless network demands physical hardware replacements throughout the network, which is cost-inefficient, labor-intensive, and time-consuming. Furthermore, the equipment and interfaces that connect the hardware are owned by the vendors that originally supplied them, which locks MNOs into existing relationships with them.
Article | August 9, 2021
Since my last blog post warning about those who were predicting a "new paradigm" of shortage in the semiconductor industry, the media have been shouting about the "chip crisis" alongside the typical daily news diet of disaster and calamity that we have come to expect in the time of COVID. The chip shortage coverage helped create a sense of national anxiety that we were all too reliant on China for semiconductors and, in general, that semiconductor supply was dwindling. The predictable response from governments around the world was to announce plans to stimulate their respective domestic semiconductor manufacturers into expanding chip production capacity.
Fast forward a few months, and we are now finally seeing some light at the end of the chip shortage tunnel. Yet, in the wake of all the proclamations and commitments about investing in new chip capacity, we also now see manufacturers going forward with actually starting to build new plants that won't come online for another couple of years. The result, as I said in my last post: overcapacity.
Article | February 2, 2021
Telecommunications conglomerate Verizon has partnered with 3D development platform Unity to create entertainment applications and enterprise toolkits that can render 3D environments almost instantaneously, without the need for expensive hardware.
In a press release, Verizon said products from this collaboration will address the demand for instantaneous content in industries such as gaming, retail, and sports, where emphasis is placed on real-time digital immersion.
“We are entering an era of technology-led disruption where 5G and MEC will not only transform the full enterprise lifecycle, it will change the way consumers experience gaming and entertainment,” said Verizon Chief Executive Officer Tami Erwin.
These products will utilise 5G and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) technology, taking the best of both worlds to enhance the digital experience for consumers.
The concept of edge computing has actually been around for roughly three decades, but it wasn't until recently that we've been able to apply it to Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Edge architecture reduces latency by moving computer services closer to the source — the "edges" — of the data. This not only decongests the centralised cloud of information, but also decreases the distance the data needs to cover to reach user terminals.
Meanwhile, 5G is the highly anticipated next generation broadband network that promises to deliver high speeds with just millisecond latencies. Despite the pandemic, its rollout hasn’t slowed down at all, with countries like China, South Korea, and the US getting a first taste of the technology.
The promise of lightning-fast connections, however, comes at a steep cost: 5G stations consume plenty of energy to work.
Though much of 5G's advantages come from its streamlined digital routing capabilities, it's also underpinned by a powerful network of hardware components — more precisely, printed circuit boards (PCBs). To answer the demand for more energy, engineers use ties to meet PCB requirements for solving the challenges that come with powering a standard board. These include considerations like signal paths and planar delays, among others. Placing the net ties at the right junctions distributes energy more evenly, thus providing efficient power delivery to 5G networks.
Despite all the touted capabilities of 5G, experts have flagged cybersecurity as one major concern. As a new innovation, 5G is still fairly unregulated, leaving loopholes and security gaps that cyber criminals can exploit. For instance, the expansion of bandwidth coverage actually opens up vulnerabilities and additional avenues for cyber attacks. Furthermore, the hyper connected nature of IoT devices makes it easier for hackers to gain access to different networks, both private and public; and unwitting users can potentially expose their contacts to virtual attackers.
Because of these threats, experts urge telecom companies to lay down a solid bedrock for 5G security before finalising the pivot towards it. For now, it remains to be seen how legislators and regulators will implement standards to guide the public in its use of 5G.
Amid this concern, Verizon and Unity are hopeful that their collaboration — and the marriage of 5G and MEC technology — will be a game changer in the gaming, retail, and entertainment industries.
“We know the world is demanding high-speed, AAA content, whether it’s an educational augmented reality application or a robot running a simulation of a digital twin,” Unity Vice President for Solutions Ryan Peterson said.
“5G is the key piece for us to facilitate these real-time 3D experiences broadly and to better meet the demands of the real-time economy.”