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RFID & Wireless IoT Global, Issue 03/2022 - Publication date: September 14th, 2022
5G & 6G

On the Way to the Metaverse with 5G & 6G

5G is the Data Transmission Standard for Virtual Solutions

METAVERSE

The advancement of mobile communication standards enables production sites populated with robots, meetings with colleagues in a virtual meeting room instead of a zoom call, and evening concert visits somewhere in the world with the help of data glasses and avatars. This world is the metaverse.

From 2024, analysts expect more and more applications in the metaverse. The basis for this will be fast, reliable and very powerful data transmission technologies.

5G is the cellular standard that enterprises are counting on as they move toward the metaverse.

Digital Worlds with 5G

Digital Worlds with 5G

 
A Glimpse at the Metaverse

Virtual reality devices like data gloves and smart glasses can merge the real and virtual worlds thanks to fast data transmission.

A Glimpse at the Metaverse

From Digital Twin to Metaverse

Digital twins have been used in digitally networked production since the 2010s. They are digital images of real components or machines and all their connections. They are used to simulate and track processes. A digital production plant behaves according to the programmed parameters of all captured elements. If it detects deviations in real production, it can communicate independently or through human support with the real existing machines and influence production, depending on the configuration of the plant.

The metaverse is also a simulation of real existing circumstances – and more. The programmers of the metaverse are millions of users around the world. They create themselves as avatars in the metaverse and entire worlds in which they operate. The worlds are virtual because they appear real in the way the creator desires, opening up new spaces of possibilities.

An indispensable prerequisite for this is a high-performance mobile communications infrastructure. With 4G/LTE, this has been created globally. The maximum 4G network expansion in Germany will be reached in 2022; worldwide, experts expect maximum penetration in 2030. But 5G is the mobile communications standard that will make virtual worlds possible.

Technological Innovations from 4G to 6G

 

Facts

The standardization body 3GPP began work on 5G in 2016. Release 15 (R15) of 3GPP is the first dedicated 5G release; work on it was completed in 2019.

In July 2020, R16 completed work on 5G's air interface. R17 has been completed and R18 for 5G Advanced is in progress.

However, due to the ongoing semiconductor shortage, the benefits of R16 have not yet fully reached the industry. For the most part, automation engineers in campus networks are currently still working with devices and chips based on R15.

The evolution from 4G to 5G to 6G

The evolution from 4G to 5G to 6G is characterized by profound innovations in industry and everyday life.

The 4G/LTE standard is based on Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM). This is a type of digital modulation in which a signal is split into several narrowband channels at different frequencies and transmitted more quickly. With 4G LTE, data transmission speeds of up to 150 Mbit/s can be achieved. The average download speed of an LTE connection is 20.83 Mbit/s, the upload speed is 1.48 Mbit/s and the average response time is 54.17 ms.

The 5G network has been under construction in Germany since 2019.

With 5G, peak data rates of 20 Gbit/s will nominally be possible with a latency of 1ms. The technological innovation with 5G lies firstly in the antenna. To be able to serve more end users per radio mast, many additional antennas are installed at the radio mast, enabling Massive Multiple Input, Multiple Output (Massive MIMO).

Secondly, telecommunications providers use different frequency bands: those with long wavelengths and greater range in the GHz range in rural areas, where a single radio mast can cover a larger region, and those with shorter wavelengths for urban areas, where the number of users per unit area is greater.

This is why more 5G antennas or smaller transceivers the size of a pizza box are installed in cities. [1] Third, the performance of a 5G network is based on network slicing. "Slices" are virtual networks within the overall network that utilize bandwidth in a resource-efficient manner.

Fourth, 5G devices can communicate directly with each other via sidelinking without an antenna or a transceiver. 6G is expected to be available in 2030. Transmission rates of up to 400 Gbit/s and latency times of less than 100 microseconds are expected.

The New 5G Standard

 

The aim of the development of 5G was to extend the KPIs of 4G in such a way that ultra-low latency times of 1 ms, more terminals per square kilometer and almost uninterrupted availability of communications services of 99.9 % became possible. This is needed above all in industrial automation. Only with 5G will the so-called 'handover' from one WLAN access point to another be possible with no disruption, because with 5G, a new connection is always established first before the existing one is terminated. AGVs and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can be deployed in large numbers without collisions in environments with 5G networks.

Peak data rates of 20 Gbit/s are expected with 5G. These will only be achieved under certain conditions. Experts have measured 100 Mbit/s in upload and 1,500 Mbit/s in download [2] among 5G end users in Germany; higher speeds are recorded overall in Austria and Switzerland. [3] The difference between the performance indicators is related to the infrastructure. Both core network and access network would have to be designed for 5G.

The core network – the fiber-optic network that ensures bandwidth, bridging of distances and area coverage – corresponds to the 4G/LTE standard in Germany (as of July 2022). Most 5G networks use a 5G access network with its own cell towers, radio technology and connectivity, which establishes the connection with each subscriber's terminal device. Essentially, they are non-stand-alone add-ons on top of the existing 4G/LTE core network.

The rate of "non-stand-alone" network rollout (5G/ NSA) was 53 % at the end of 2021. In the resulting technology mix, the performance indicators advertised by 5G providers cannot yet be achieved.

The roll-out of complete, so-called "standalone" 5G networks (5G/SA) is necessary. Frankfurt am Main has had a complete 5G network since 2021, with Munich and Berlin planning to follow suit in 2022. Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) has overtaken the Asia Pacific region, including Greater China (APAC), to become the region with the most 5G cities, at 839.

The Asia Pacific region (APAC) has 689 cities and the Americas have 419 that rely on 5G. [4] Thus, the promise of 5G will be realized first in cities – or with 5G Advanced. Lower load on the power grid, better bandwidth utilization, better support for mobile end users by optimizing Massive MIMO, and more accurate positioning to less than 20 cm are among the features of 5G Advanced. Implementation is expected to begin in 2025.

After Seoul, Oslo
is the capital city
with the fastest
average 5G data
transmission speed.

5G rollout is more likely to take place in major cities than in rural regions. After Seoul, Oslo is the capital city with the fastest average 5G data transmission speed.

5G in Practice

 
5G in Practice

With 5G, significantly more subscribers per area can be active in the network. Larger quantities of active RFID tags could transmit status data in the warehouse.

Campus Networks Show What 5G Can Do

Geographically narrowly defined private 5G networks in municipalities and at institutions are referred to as campus networks. The 5G use cases listed have all been carried out in campus networks. Since campus networks are independent networks (5G/SA), significantly higher data transmission rates and bandwidth are achieved.

Use Cases for 5G

Autonomous Driving

5G test tracks are being built for research into autonomous driving. These will be equipped with sensors for efficient monitoring of the vehicle and the situation around it. The vehicles themselves transmit images with high-resolution vehicle cameras. This will provide insights into driver assistance systems. Where? DENSO Global R&D Center in Tokyo, Haneda

Maintenance & Development

Augmented Reality (AR) glasses are used in the maintenance of aircraft turbines and in the design of aircraft interiors. 3D design data of the planned cabin interior is virtually visualized in empty aircraft fuselages for this purpose.

Using live data transmission, the technicians on-site then have the opportunity to check the current position of all planned components and additionally coordinate necessary changes with the developers via collaborative video functions. Where? Lufthansa Technik, Hamburg

Port Logistics

With 5G, all processes in the port can be automated. The lifting capacity of cranes is increased, which reduces the berthing time of ships. AGVs can be used in greater numbers. With 4G, only 300 to 400 AGVs can be operated in a network; with 5G, the number is 2000. Where? Tuas Megaport, Singapore

Tele-Surgery

Tele-Surgery:
Using data goggles and a precision joystick, the surgeon controls the distant surgical robot.

Autonomous Driving

Autonomous Driving: From level 3, highly automated driving, reading or computer work will be possible while driving.

The Future with 6G

6G Fulfills the Promise of 5G

For 5G, the expected peak of global availability is in 2040. Research on 6G is currently already underway. 3GPP is expected to start work on 6G in 2025. Specifications include expanding cellular to transmission rates of over 10 and up to 400 Gbps, the strengthening of direct communications V2X, the advancement of wireless networks (air interface & IoT), and latencies of less than 100 microseconds. Field testing is expected to start in 2025, and deployment in 2030. A data transmission rate of 206.25 Gbit/s could be achieved in a test setting in China in January 2022.[5]

Technological Requirements for 6G

Since research for the implementation of the 6G specifications is in its early stages, not much can be said about the technological implementation yet. The D-band is to be used in the terahertz range from 0.11 THz to 0.17 THz, which is unusual for mobile communications. Previous applications in the terahertz range include airport body scanners. It is expected that data transmission will work partly via visible light (Visible Light Communication).

Multi-Robot Systems and Industry 4.0

Reliable, delay-free communication and control in real time will actually only be possible with 6G. Both aspects are of great importance for Industry 4.0 with regard to mobile robotics. The smart factory of the future will need collaborative robots to implement intelligent industrial systems and form a complex robot ecosystem with dynamic movements and AI control.[6] Production robots and transportation robots (AGVs) can then perform manufacturing efficiently and respond to changes in real time.

The number of use cases for 6G will increase as the rollout of the technology draws closer.

Tele-Surgery

The healthcare sector would also increasingly rely on digital processes with M2M communication, if this were possible. The field of telemedicine could be set up with 6G in such a way that surgeons control surgical robots far away from patients. Ultra-high-resolution images and the surgeon's commands to the robot would have to be transmitted with a latency well below 1 ms.[7] This can only be achieved with 6G.

Automated and Autonomous Driving

Automated and autonomous driving is again being discussed more frequently in connection with 6G. Cars in automation expansion stages 4 (fully automated driving) and 5 (autonomous driving) should be able to communicate with other cars, communicate distances to other road users in real time, and visually record the surroundings accurately.

Since the volumes of data generated in automated and autonomous driving are enormous, 5G would require a very large number of antennas to be installed to ensure low latency. However, the maximum 20 Gbit/s achievable with 5G would still not be enough to transmit the data fast enough.[8] With 6G automated and autonomous driving can be taken out of confined testing grounds or port facilities and onto the road.

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