We have seen a lot of development in the mobile network infrastructure. We have seen 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G networks. We are now in the moment to embrace 5G. We can call all these generations an enhancement to the previous generation. And if we generalise, we can call 5G an enhancement too, but in a larger scale. If we come to the speed analysis, 5G will be way faster than 4G.
Not limited to speed only, 5G service has other aspects to it. If we look into the previous mobile tower infrastructure, it was not necessary to have tower sites within a close range. But when we upgraded to the newer generations, it was necessary to increase the cell site numbers. Because the frequency that we are using now, is higher, and higher frequencies require close ranged cell sites to provide better service to the users.
The 5G technology received enhancements in two levels; the radio level and protocol level. A compromise in the speed would result in covering a wider range. For example, if we are happy with 100Mbps speed—enough in user perspective, and use lower-end frequencies like 800/900MHz, it is possible to cover more range through a single cell site. This would definitively smoothen the user's experience. But if we use higher frequencies like 2.5 or 3.5GHz, it is possible to upgrade the speed up to 1Gbps. If the frequency is even higher, it is possible to obtain 10Gbps speed.
But there is a challenge to obtain the 10Gbps mark. Because, in order to do that, cell sites would be needed almost within 150 metres. That is why it is necessary to set the purpose first before deploying the programme. If a faster speed is the requirement, that can be done by using lower frequencies.
But if we want to deploy modern services like factory and industry automation, the driverless car, remote surgical process, and miscellaneous purposes, then it will require very low latency service, along with a good bandwidth and higher frequencies. As a result, it will be necessary to increase the cell site numbers. On the other hand, for IoT based developments, for example collecting agricultural data, it is suggested to use lower-end frequencies.
It is possible to launch 5G network services in Bangladesh with the existing network infrastructure system. In that case, we will have a slower speed which will still be faster than the current speed of 4G. It is a major change and a huge uplift.
Eventually we will have to embrace the new technology. But how faster we can deploy the technology depends entirely on the investment capacity of mobile operators and the government guideline. The different services of 5G do not depend on the mobile operators only, but also on the other related industries. If we can merge the investment and interests of those industries with the mobile operators, it will become a really successful module.
5G requires heavy investment and that is why every country must initially decide their purpose of using 5G technology. Bangladesh needs to do the same. Here we have a different scenario than the rest of the countries of the world. If we start imitating them, it will not bring any success. Thus, our strategy needs to be different from them, and appropriate for us. We need a strong roadmap to gradually provide all the benefits of 5G to the users.
Sumon Ahmed Sabir is the Chief Technology Officer of Fiber@home Limited