So what is 5G?

Issue 1 2020 IT infrastructure

Wikipedia describes 5G as “the fifth generation wireless technology for digital cellular networks that began wide deployment in 2019. As with previous standards, the covered areas are divided into regions called ‘cells’, serviced by individual antennas. … The frequency spectrum of 5G is divided into millimetre waves, mid-band and low-band. Low-band uses a similar frequency range as the predecessor, 4G.”

Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked Nokia’s Deon Geyser for more on this new technology that has created enormous expectations.

What is 5G and why is it getting so much attention?

5G transformation is much more than a radio network upgrade challenge. While 5G New Radio is clearly important to the network buildout, 5G requires a much more comprehensive approach. 5G involves E2E technology (radio, core, cloud, high bandwidth and programmable transport, management, automation, BSS, security, and more), business and people capabilities. Nokia as the industry leader can help on all these fronts, so that operators deliver the extraordinary potential of 5G to their customers and their stakeholders.

5G will change the game for everyone. It will transform business models and create new revenue streams for enterprises. It will revolutionise the way consumers interact with the world around them and create opportunities for mobile operators to deliver extraordinary experiences.

There are several use cases for 5G, ranging from video surveillance and analytics, machine remote control, assisted and autonomous vehicles, and cloud robotics and process automation to name a few.

There is talk of health risks associated with 5G, are these valid?

For Nokia, product safety is a key consideration. All Nokia products, including 5G, comply with established international exposure standards and regulations. Those exposure limits are based on extensive reviews of research publications covering the radio spectrum used for 5G.

What benefits will we see from a 5G rollout? What challenges will there be?

5G technology has enormous potential to transform the way people live and work as well as transform multiple sectors. 5G will provide ultra-high bandwidth and low-latency services, as well as new applications in areas such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Energy, healthcare, education, transport, and entertainment sectors will benefit from various IoT use cases enabled by 5G. These use cases will enhance operational efficiencies and user experiences.

Africa is as capable of embracing the huge potential of this technology as the rest of the world, even within the limitations of existing infrastructure and complex connectivity challenges. Industries have adopted 2G, 3G and 4G in incremental steps as these technologies have evolved within the constraints of legacy technologies and capabilities. Now, 5G is introducing an opportunity for the industry to embrace growth and innovation. But only if it is done with a clear focus on what 5G can realistically deliver and a clear eye on the future.

As far as challenges are concerned, to capitalise on 5G, the industry has to re-architecture the networks because new services will not only be about high bandwidth but also about low latency. The future is about ensuring that systems and solutions are ‘always on’ and intelligent, providing industry verticals with the ability to fully recognise the capabilities of automation.

It has become clear that great 5G runs on top of great 4G. In non-standalone architectures, the 5G control information goes through the LTE eNodeBs and the throughput can tap the resources of 5G and 4G through dual connectivity. This means that if you have the best performing 4G network, you are already ahead of the game in 5G.

What about the security of 5G?

The challenging nature of 5G networks to support unique and diverse business requirements of various sectors has rendered current network security less than adequate. In 5G networks, reliability does not only refer to the network infrastructure but also to ensuring high connectivity, infinite capacity and coverage (and other promised 5G features) anytime and anywhere. This implies a security makeover of how confidentiality, integrity, and availability will be maintained and managed in 5G networks. Furthermore, the complexity of securing a network has increased due to the introduction of SDN and NFV in 5G networks.

Nokia’s end-to-end security solutions help mitigate these security risks in a three-step process. We collaborate with 3GPP and other specification bodies to influence the security requirements, which are then implemented into all our products by our DFSEC (Design For Security Process).

Lastly, we have a wide range of network security solutions and services that help operators to automate and orchestrate the security requirements by consolidating network security requirements into a single operations view via our SOAR (security, orchestration, analytics, and response) approach. It leverages our best-in-class global threat intelligence repository and automated workflow management to help CISOs and CIOs develop end-to-end visibility and control of their security operations which will become far more critical as the adoption of 5G accelerates.

Will the security market (intrusion monitoring, surveillance, etc.) benefit from 5G communications?

Yes, it will. For example, wireless video surveillance is a cost-effective way to enhance safety and security in industrial sites, campuses and public spaces. It’s also increasingly popular.

Wireless broadband makes it possible to mount cameras on drones and land-based vehicles, or in places that are difficult to reach with fixed cables. These cameras can provide footage that enhances situational awareness and decision making for a variety of industries. For example, drone-mounted cameras can help first responders address fires or natural disasters more effectively. They can enable terminal operators to inspect container ships before they reach the port. Or allow wind farm operators to detect problems before they cause costly turbine outages.

The addition of video analytics creates more valuable applications. In factory environments, video analytics can enhance quality, security and efficiency by enabling automatic fault detection, intrusion detection and control of robots.

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