As 5G begins to roll out, the promise of faster speeds, lower latency and increased spectrum efficiency is becoming real. However, the upgrade path from a 4G router to a 5G router involves much more than just swapping out the 4G modem of an existing router in order to reap the full benefits of 5G NR (New Radio).
The reason migrating from 4G to 5G is not simple is due to the major changes implemented in 5G NR networks to deliver all its new capabilities. Delivering on those new features and capabilities requires properly addressing the new demands on hardware and software when making the transition to 5G NR networks. These new demands have a pervasive effect on the hardware and software required to be able to fully take advantage of 5G NR capabilities.
One of the most significant changes with 5G NR deals with new timing constraints. These timing constraints now result in an extension of timing control beyond the just RF interface, and back into a device’s processor and software. This effect on processors and software is due to the requirements of timing intervals becoming more precise and deterministic, often requiring a move to hardware specific timing circuitry or the use of real-time operating systems (RTOS).
Those RTOSs and scheduler software pieces, coupled with 5G NR’s ability to provide for faster data rates, result in the need for a significant increase in the processing speed of most devices. But it’s not only sheer processing speed. Hardware interfaces that move data between processing elements will also need to be changed. For example, in an existing 4G device, a serial port or standard USB interface used to connect to a modem will be woefully insufficient to handle the data rates needed for 5G speeds. There are several other considerations (such as a greater need for parallel processing to obtain throughput levels), but I think you get the gist.
As a result of the above, there are several key considerations channel partners should address when upgrading to 5G so customers can experience the full benefits of 5G NR.
Key Considerations for Channel Partners Considering 5G
When your customers are considering investing in 5G, they need to ensure that every aspect of the system can deliver the necessary performance.
Here are six key subsystems that enable true 5G operation:
1. Software: Upgradability
With the new changes and requirements from the physical layer (PHY) on up, the ability to reliably support incremental software update becomes critical as 5G NR networks are deployed and evolve.
2. Antennas: 4×4 6GHZ Antenna and Cables
4G LTE antenna modules typically have at most three cellular antenna elements for connectivity, using a 3×3 configuration with 5GHz cables. To achieve the full potential of 5G, a 4×4 antenna configuration with low-loss 6GHz cables is needed.
3. Processing speed: 2 to 4x
Higher data rates, tighter timing and other demands mean a 5G router’s processor may need as much as 2 to 4x the processing speed compared to a typical 4G LTE router. As a result, a 5G router requires a highly capable, high-speed processor that may not be present in that old 4G router.
4. Power: Double the Power
Faster processors and greater software load mean a 5G router may need as much as twice the power compared to a typical 4G LTE router. As a result, a 5G router requires a higher-capacity internal power supply as well as a higher-wattage power cable, and the installation location needs to take that into account.
5. Chassis: Effective Heat Dissipation
With increased power use comes the need to passively dissipate more heat. Reconfiguring the existing device or the installation location may not be possible. Thus, your partners should look for chassis and installation optimizations, such as a massive passive heat sink, to help ensure the overall system remains cool despite the higher level of performance.
6. System Interfaces: High-Speed Ethernet
To take advantage of 5G’s very high data rates, all of the router’s data paths need to be able to handle the increase in data rates. To achieve 5G system throughput at least one 5Gbps Ethernet port will be needed. To support 5G data rates over Wi-Fi, the system needs the next generation of Wi-Fi, known as Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax). Full Wi-Fi 6 performance that matches 5G performance requires a 4×4 antenna configuration. Reconfiguring an existing device to support Wi-Fi 6 and the additional antennas may not be possible. However, a 5G router designed for such performance will provide the 5G cellular and Wi-Fi 6 antennas in a small, highly integrated package.
Why Start with Sierra for 5G?
Sierra Wireless’s approach to 5G routers has meant a complete redesign from the bottom up. After evaluating the relevant technologies, Sierra built a 5G-optimized AirLink router that delivers end-to-end 5G performance. As part of the 5G redesign, Sierra addressed all the necessary subsystems, including antenna systems, the power subsystem, passive heat dissipation, high-speed Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6. What’s more, Sierra’s 5G routers are supported by their network management systems to deliver added insights for 5G reporting and analytics.
Sierra’s thoughtful and thorough approach to the 5G AirLink solution will effectively deliver accelerated mobile computing and the multi-Gbps performance that the standard is designed to support.
Why Partner with GetWireless and Sierra Wireless?
Together with Sierra Wireless, GetWireless offers a global channel ecosystem designed to help our resale partners drive incremental revenue by offering leading IoT products, a robust partner program, and an easy partnership that provides tools to grow your business. Our channel program fuels collaborative growth, together with our partners. Our services comprise decades of experience working exclusively with channel partners in the IoT, mobility, in-building connectivity, fleet tracking and many wireless markets.
Available services include:
- Pre- and post-sales support from certified sales and technical teams, as well as training opportunities to enable your sales and technical teams
- Deal registration and sales collaboration to generate margin, protect the price and drive effective sales cycles
- Collaborative demand creation and marketing services in addition to a wide selection of professional services
- Comprehensive inventory with strong logistics management for market-leading IoT solutions consisting of hardware, software, and device management
- Sample and demonstration programs
GetWireless offers the solutions, tools and support to enable you and your customers to succeed with 5G. Contact us to learn more or to speak to one of our IoT experts today.
About The Author
VP of IoT Solutions
Dave Smith is the Vice President of IoT solutions with responsibility for technical advisement and thought leadership around products, solutions, and services; both inside and outside of the GetWireless portfolio. Dave is a tenured information technology professional skilled in LPWAN, IoT, Wireless Technologies, Telecommunications, Software Development, Testing, and Embedded Systems. David began his career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and prior to joining GetWireless served as CTO and Director for two Innovative IT and IoT hardware manufacturer’s in the Twin Cities area.