ASM Fellows' Lecture
Road Towards 5G Mobile Communication: Evolution or Revolution
by Prof Dr Tharek Abd Rahman FASc
Newly-elected under the Information Technology & Computer Sciences Discipline Group, ASM Fellow Professor Dr Tharek Abd Rahman FASc delivered his Fellows’ Lecture titled Road Towards 5G Mobile Communication: Evolution or Revolution.
Held on 15 November 2018, the ASM Fellows’ Lecture was attended by representatives from government agencies, universities and industry. Among notable attendees include ASM Vice President YM Academician Datuk Dr Tengku Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen FASc.
Emeritus Professor Dato' Dr Tengku Mohd Tengku Sembok FASc was invited to introduce the speaker and moderate the lecture.
What is 5G?
According to Professor Tharek, the foundation of mobile telephony began in the 1980s with the advent of 1G connectivity; this expanded into the 2G connectivity in the 1990s, and the arrival of the Internet spurred the development of mobile telephony into the 4G connectivity that we have today, which enabled mobile broadband to be accessible for everyone.
5G is the next iteration of mobile connectivity, which enables mobile broadband for everyone and everything, enabling the establishment of a network society.
He went on the elaborate on the future scenarios of the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT), which brings three features: Enhanced Mobile Broadband, Ultra-reliable and Low Latency Communications as well as Massive Machine Type Communications.
Future IMT enables many new applications as well as brings immense improvements to existing products and services: high-speed connectivity enables high-intensity media playback such as 3D video and ultra-high display (UHD) screens; its ability to deliver ultra-reliable and low latency communications also enable various applications in industry applications, as well as mission-critical applications e.g. e-health.
Furthermore, the application of 5G enables users to build smart home or smart building systems, which could be expanded towards creating a smart city, realising the role of 5G towards creating a network society.
The 5G Vision entails three features: firstly, it is an enhanced mobile broadband with data rates in the multi-Gigabits per second (Gbps) that possesses uniformity and extreme capacity.
Secondly, 5G’s ultra-low latency, high availability, high reliability and strong security features enables it to be utilised in mission-critical services in the automotive, robotics and health sectors.
Thirdly, 5G’s low cost, ultra-low energy capabilities could be advantageous towards expanding the Internet of Things (IoT), which includes wearables, smart homes and smart cities.
5G Standardisation and Spectrum
Professor Tharek continued by talking about IMT development and deployment, including the processes involved in building up IMT 2020.
To address diversified requirements from the envisioned 5G usage scenarios, 5G needs access to high, medium and low frequencies, which ranges between 2-6 GHz.
Lower bands have higher a higher coverage and low latency, making it suitable for moderate capacity usage, as well as wide-area and outside-in coverage; a high capacity hotspot or dense urban areas would benefit from the high capacity, ultra-low latency capabilities of higher bands.
Furthermore, Professor Tharek elaborated on the various bandwidths used by countries such as China, the European Union, Japan, South Korea and the United States. He highlighted that the 5G network trials have been carried out in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. These locations were chosen for the trials because they had fibre-ready networks.
Professor Tharek introduced the audience to the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP). The NFCP was developed in response to the urgent need to improve broadband quality and coverage, reduce broadband prices, enable Internet access for all, and expand existing fiber networks. Infrastructures for communication must be able to support the needs of the country in this digital era, and enable the nation to harness the vast opportunities offered by new technologies and innovations. The NFCP is intended to provide clarity in terms of strategic direction for the implementation policies/initiatives that support the digital economy, whilst creating a healthy environment to facilitate adoption of future technologies.
Malaysian Initiatives towards 5G: IMT and Future Network
The Malaysian Technical Standards Forum Bhd (MTSFB) is a company that was incorporated on 8 June 2004 that was designated as the Technical Standards Forum (TSF) by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on 27 October 2004, under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA 1998).
The primary roles of MTSFB are to develop, recommend, modify and update the Technical Codes for registration by MCMC as well as relevant Malaysian Standards for gazettal by DSM through SIRIM for both fixed and wireless network providers and other stakeholders in the country.
Members from the manufacturers, vendors, distributors, Standards Development Organisations (SDOs), academicians, service profiders and other interested parties make up the working groups (WGs) on focused subject matters.
Professor Tharek is the Chairman of the second Working Group, which focuses on Future Networks (proposed to be changed to IMT & Future Networks).
By working with the various stakeholders under MTSFB, Professor Tharek aims to leverage on what everyone can bring to the table in order to come up with two main deliverables: the Technical Codes for IM-2020 System and Specifications as well as the Technical Codes for 5G Technology and Human Exposure to RF EMF.
Innovations for 5G (IC5G)
The Innovation Centre for 5G (IC5G) was launched in 16 December 2016 in collaboration with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Ericsson.
IC5G features 5G innovations, a 5G research lab and learning space in UTM Kuala Lumpur (KL) campus, which is expected to benefit around 2,000 students from institutions and industries in Malaysia.
Besides 5G base stations and user equipment, the centre also features various 5G applications, such as smart building, smart parking, smart meters and connected water that make up Massive IoT.
As the Lecture came to a close, Professor Tharek explained on the research directions in 5G: Massive MIMO (multiple input-multiple output)& Beamforming; Higher Bandwidth at mmWave; Advanced Multiple Access; and Modulation and Coding.You may download Professor Tharek's presentation slides here.