5G, the fifth-generation wireless network, made its global commercial debut at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. This year’s Games were a huge showcase for the technology across a range of applications: driverless buses transporting attendees around Olympic sites using 5G links to navigate roads, while beaming live streams of event coverage to interior video screens. 5G-linked cameras were attached to bobsleds to deliver live footage from the pilots’ point of view, while videos of figure-skating events allowed viewers to stop the action and see 360-degree views of every twist and turn on the ice.
The technology even protected farmland adjacent to the Winter Olympics sites against native wild boars which threatened crops and the safety of tourists. Setup to replace an existing 4G-powered network that proved inadequate at tracking the boars’ movements and keeping them away from fields of cash crops, the 5G-connected system highlighted the huge range of applications and use cases that 5G supports.
The showcase was engineered by South Korean telecom carrier KT Corp. using technology from Intel, Ericsson AB and Samsung Electronics Co. The technology is being brought offline after the event to enable developers to analyze data from the deployment and identify any issues to improve the service. This, before South Korea’s wireless carriers start a full commercial roll out of 5G in 2019. But even so, the Olympic 5G showcase has been billed as a success, and a major milestone for 5G – enabling reliable, high-capacity, low latency networks, and giving gigabit-speed connectivity.
Even though the Olympics has shown how 5G can be deployed at scale, there’s still some way to go before the technology can be rolled out at a national, or international level. These large-scale services will go beyond the provision of faster mobile broadband – they include wireless connections replacing fixed connections, and improvements in other existing technologies. And these new services will require new network architectures that are not only capable of supporting much greater data volumes than ever before, but are also secure, flexible enough to support billions of devices, and adaptable to different applications.
To ensure that 5G can deliver on its promises, these emerging infrastructures will need rigorous testing. And building test architectures capable of doing that will be challenging, because the use cases are hugely diverse. Endpoints will appear and disappear rapidly, cell-site complexity will grow with network sharing, and even the bandwidth required for the visibility traffic itself will require new ways of thinking – all while supporting data volumes that are orders of magnitude greater than those of today.
To meet these challenges, Keysight is leading the way in delivering first-to-market, next-generation 5G test solutions that will help both operators and their equipment suppliers validate their configurations and underlying hardware and software, ensuring that they perform as expected, and that they’re on the right track to 5G success.
We recently published a detailed white paper that describes the 5G technology roadmap, the implications of 5G for test architectures, and how the major 5G use cases can be tested – which can be downloaded here. Keysight is also exhibiting at the giant Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, from 26 February to 1 March: find out more about our presence at the show here.