Your 5G guide: the technical terms explained

Read our easy guide to 5G Terminology so your business can understand this new technology.

Expected to know all about 5G and related technologies as part of your role? No problem. Read our guide, learn the key terms and get handy examples. You’ll be explaining massive-MIMO technology to your colleagues in no time.

If you’d like a refresher on what 5G is and the core benefits – namely lower latency, greater speed and bandwidth – take a look at the FAQs at the bottom of our 5G Business hub first.

Cloud computing

In a nutshell, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over the internet – here referred to as ‘the cloud’. Made up of a huge, interconnected network of powerful servers, the cloud can be public or private, and is safe and secure.

Crucially, 5G is the missing link that a lot of businesses need to unlock more complex technology through cloud computing. With access to 5G there is no need for the big physical servers which currently put cloud computing out of reach for smaller businesses.

Let’s look at an example of this.

Explore Transport is a specialist provider of transport and plant hire, with a fleet of 150 vehicles and 300 staff around the UK.

The challenge

Constant communication between office-based co-ordinators and drivers on the road is vital to the efficient running of Explore Transport. They needed both a telematics solution to track deliveries, monitor empty mileage and track revenue-per-vehicle; and the ability for staff to answer calls at any time, anywhere.

The solution

Using Vodafone One Net, a secure cloud-based phone system, Explore Transport can now operate 24 hours a day. Vodafone Cloud and Hosting has been paired with their telematics solution which can easily track their vehicles and monitor equipment in real-time, enabling informed decision-making and greater control.

“Having all of those people joined up and communicating is absolutely key to running the business and enabling us to grow.”

This is just one example of how cloud computing can play a key role in digital transformation, putting data at the centre of your business.

Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC)

Multi-Access Edge Computing reduces congestion on mobile networks by managing online traffic in a more intelligent way. With the number of connected devices, such as smart cameras, estimated to reach 100 billion by 2025, Multi-Access Edge Computing is going to be essential.

The emerging technology shifts the data load of cloud computing closer to the end user, using purpose-built Edge Technology Centres (ETC). These reduce the distance the signal has to travel, and play a big part in further reducing lag time (improving latency) with 5G.

Thanks to those shorter signal distances, MEC can enable many applications that rely on real-time data processing. This includes autonomous cars, where real-time car-to-infrastructure communication is critical for rapid decision making, as well as improvements in the quality of VR/AR experiences and gaming.

New spectrum

Spectrum is what we call the range of frequencies contained in 3G, 4G and 5G signal. The higher the spectrum, the larger the bandwidth, and the more you can get done, faster.

As you might expect, 5G operates on a wider spectrum and bandwidth than 4G – which means we can deliver faster speeds and greater capacity to your business more quickly.

Massive-MIMO technology

This is a new form of radio antenna that can provide multiple beams of signal and direct them where needed. This is much more effective than a single broad signal and results in less interference, making it a core component of 5G.

With older multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) technology, several antennas at a base station send and receive different signals simultaneously. With Massive-MIMO, this arrangement of two or four antennas is increased to more than one hundred, which means more signal paths for sending data faster.

This technological advancement is playing a big part in the speed and reliability of 5G. Algorithms can automatically plot the best transmission route through the air to each user. In this way, many more users and devices can connect to 5G simultaneously without loss of speed or consistency – great news next time you’re at a crowded conference or busy festival.

Vodafone was the first European network to deploy Massive MIMO after upgrading some of our sites in June 2017. Find out more about this key enabler of 5G here.

Network slicing

With 5G, network slicing will make it possible for operators to offer specific services to different customers with virtual ‘network slices’ or allocations over the same physical network. This means you can request the network characteristics you need for your specific use case.

For example, IoT applications usually require a large number of connections but with low throughput (rate of processing). Mobile Broadband solutions (such as our GigaCube – a plug in and play portable WiFi box) require a small number of connections but a large bandwidth. Network slicing could enable operators to offer customers the service that is best suited to their needs.

Network slicing is expected to become particularly popular in the manufacturing industry because it can provide dedicated connectivity to the machines and devices that keep production going smoothly. To bring this to life, take a look at our manufacturing and IoT infographic.

Mobile Private Network (MPN)

Network slicing technology can also be combined with a 5G connection to set up a virtual Mobile Private Network (MPN, also known as a PMN). An MPN allows you to use your voice services on mobile handsets over a private network, giving you increased security.

Although hybrid or standalone MPNs are already available to customers, network slicing through 5G will enable us to virtualise this technology – allowing for set up of virtual or segregated MPNs without being on-site.

The key benefits of an MPN include:

  • Control over your own private 5G network, precisely set up according to your specific business needs, to enable better real-time performance

  • Greater security, with built-in encryption and on-premise data

Software-Defined Networking (SDN)

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) allows you to manage your network centrally, giving you more agility, more control and more bandwidth when you need it. It takes full advantage of 5G’s increased capabilities and potential for network slicing (allocating requested bandwidth) to deliver a secure, flexible connection for business without disruption.

With 5G and SDN on your side, you can enjoy a central point of control and new levels of reliable connectivity where they just weren’t possible before. Find out how you can enable a network with greater speed, bandwidth and lower latency with more information on our SDN hub.

Your future-ready business. Our 5G network.

We hope you found our 5G terminology round up useful. Feel free to share it with your colleagues and peers – 5G is here to stay.

Vodafone’s 5G network is supported by several emerging new technologies that, together, are helping to unlock the potential of businesses across the country. To discover more 5G applications and the latest trends as they happen, keep an eye on our 5G for business hub.

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