5G and Beyond

With 5G, the performance of mobile communications has been significantly increased and taken to a new level. The new generation not only offers higher data rates, but also enters completely new areas, paving the way for applications that were previously unthinkable. Particularly for industrial and vehicle communication as well as the Internet of Things (IoT), the intelligent connecting of objects offers the opportunity to further develop products, systems and processes in innovative ways.

As an application-oriented research institute, we close the gaps between standardization and application by combining research, standardization work and testing in practical applications. This means we are involved in all phases of establishing 5G and are actively shaping the mobile communications standard. We also support and advise the industry in the development and implementation of new and future 5G technologies.

Communicative multitasker with a high level of performance

5G triangle
© Fraunhofer IIS

Ultra-short latency of less than one millisecond, exceptional transmission rates of over 10 Gbit/s and globally available wireless connections: These strengths make 5G a true multitasker. Compared to its predecessors, the mobile communications standard offers a significantly higher degree of flexibility and therefore always remains adaptable in practice. From applications that require extremely high bandwidths, to time-critical processes that depend on real-time capable radio, to IoT products that rely on a massive number of connected devices: 5G has the appropriate and tailored solution in its repertoire for every requirement.

The global 5G network is currently still in the developmental stage. However, the mobile communications standard already offers a large pool of solutions that can be used to address a wide variety of application needs.

5G technologies for diverse applications

5G requires completely new transmission and network concepts. We want to use the flexibility of the 5G standard to develop customized solutions that are tailored to the individual needs and conditions of the industry. That’s why we have specialized our expertise in wireless communication and localization in specific application areas.

Non-Terrestrial Networks

With the establishment of 5G, satellites are for the first time being consistently considered as an integral part of the communication infrastructure. Terrestrial and satellite-based systems merge into hybrid networks. These are intended to help expand global coverage and maintain mobile communications even under difficult conditions. One option is to connect terrestrial base via satellite to the core network (backhauling). Another way of intelligent networking is 5G Direct Access. Here, 5G-capable smartphones or vehicles can directly communicate with satellites. With new on-board processors - such as the Fraunhofer On-Board Processor (FOBP) - satellites can also be configured in such a way that they function as 5G mobile base stations providing broadband internet to remote regions, aircraft and ships.

To drive the integration of satellites into the 5G generation, we have developed a simulator for Non-Terrestrial Networks. This enables satellite manufacturers and operators to virtually reproduce the trajectories that can be expected in hybrid networks and thus predict the expected performance. The forecast parameters include, for example, the coverage area or maximum throughput. If, on the other hand, applications need to be tested directly in the field and at an early stage, our demonstration platform is used, which is suitable for both GEO and LEO satellite transmission tests.

Network Energy Saving

The more novel use cases 5G creates, the larger the volume of data that needs to be transmitted, processed and stored. Even though energy efficiency has already been significantly improved with 5G compared to previous generations of mobile communications, base stations in particular are increasing the carbon footprint with their high power consumption. In addition, energy costs are constantly rising. For network operators, there is not only a desire for greater sustainability but also a financial incentive to develop new concepts that enable energy-efficient and resource-friendly operation of mobile networks. For example, base stations can be put into an optimally adapted "sleep mode" as soon as they are underutilized due to a low number of 5G users (e.g. at night).

We want to support network operators on their path to climate-neutral mobile communications. Therefore, we provide companies with advice based on our active standardization work to optimize their concepts. Additionally, we are developing a tool for Network Energy Saving that can be used to simulate the latest methods and measures designed to save energy. This enables a detailed examination of whether the desired efficiency effects are actually achieved. For deployment in real mobile networks, we are working on the project "5G-ECONET".

Industrial communication

With 5G, mobile communications are also finding their way into production halls. Examples of this include real-time control of robots or precise positioning of goods. As digitization transforms industrial production, it becomes more flexible and almost self-organizing. Autonomous objects, wireless communication and real-time sensors allow new forms of decentralized control and ad-hoc design of processes. With their high bandwidth and low latency, 5G technologies offer an optimal solution that meets the requirements of industrial communication and can therefore significantly increase its performance. Moreover, mobile communications become a decisive factor for the “Industrial Metaverse”, which shifts production halls into virtual immersive worlds in order to optimize industrial processes. Wireless 5G connectivity is essential for reproducing a wide range of interactions and interdependencies between humans and machines in real time.

In our testbed "Industry 4.0", companies have the opportunity to put their applications to the test under realistic and controlled conditions. In this way the use of industrial 5G features can be carefully prepared. Another advantage is that we have equipped our testbed with Open RAN equipment. Consequently, companies are no longer dependent on a single provider, but can diversify their equipment and adapt it to individual context factors. For organizations that don't want to come to Nuremberg but still want to access the 5G test infrastructure, we have another solution: our mobile campus network, which enables local and customized 5G network testing directly on site.

V2X communication

For connected mobility to become a reality, it is not enough for vehicles to only send their data via available base stations. Rather, the vehicle must evolve into a communication center on wheels that can directly interact with other traffic elements even in places without cellular coverage. These vehicles communicate with each other (vehicle-to-vehicle), for example, to warn of hazards, with the road infrastructure (vehicle-to-everything – V2X) to receive information on the current speed limit, or with the Internet, which reports the traffic jam situation along the rest of the route.

The use of Sidelink is ideal for enabling direct vehicle communication. However, manufacturers of automotive applications, on-board units or vehicle electronics face the challenge of having to test their products even though no Sidelink-capable end devices are yet available in vehicles. That’s why we have developed our C-V2XSim, which makes it possible to virtually replicate road traffic including vehicle movements, distribute base stations in specific areas and simulate the communication capabilities of the individual elements. Taking it a step further, we have our Automotive test bed in Rosenheim and our demonstration platform for Sidelink. Here, the corresponding 5G applications can be tested under realistic conditions.  

Benefit from our 5G skill set

The introduction of 5G technologies requires a well-founded approach due to the complexity of the topic and the numerous influencing factors. With our expertise from research into wireless communication systems and our activities in ongoing standardization, we help companies find the optimal 5G strategy. Additionally, we are at your side when it comes to the actual implementation by adapting your technologies to specific solutions and developing suitable prototypes.

Knowledge and
consulting

  • Training and workshops
  • Technical audits/reports and feasibility studies
  • Engineering consulting services focused on 5G standardization

Planning and
project support

  • Design: We develop use case scenarios and plan rollouts
  • Technology selection: We run simulations to assess and compare different radio technologies’ performance
  • We prepare spectrum plans and support you in applying for frequencies
  • We coordinate technical tasks during 5G projects’ implementation

Research and
development

  • Technology development
  • Prototyping
  • Validation and laboratory/field tests

Our path to 6G

 

Is it time to start thinking about 6G?

Bernhard Niemann, Head of Broadband and Broadcast Department, explains why Fraunhofer IIS is conducting research into 6G and what challenges it will bring.

6G SENTINEL

Fraunhofer lighthouse project for 6G technologies

 

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