What Is 5G?
5G is the 5th generation mobile network. It is a new global wireless standard after 4G networks. 5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.
5G wireless technology is meant to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and agility. These have the potential to deliver new user experiences and connects new industries.
5G vs. 4G
The high reliability and ultra-fast speed of 5G networks enhance the current capabilities of 4G networks, which themselves built on 3G’s application and data technology. However, there are significant differences between 5G and 4G, including:
- 5G technology capabilities: 5G technology offers a massive step forward in terms of mobile technology capabilities. Current 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology can only use lower frequency bands, which operate up to 6 GHz. However, 5G’s radio bands are able to handle between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. This high frequency enables 5G to offer significant speed increases, support huge data transfers, and free up bandwidth.
- Significant speed: The key difference between 5G vs. 4G is the significant additional speed that 5G networks offer. 4G networks have a peak speed of around 1 GB per second, while 5G can offer 20x that level. That means much faster mobile downloads without having to connect to Wi-Fi.
- Greater capacity: 4G networks struggle to handle multiple devices connecting in the same location, such as at busy concerts or sports events. 5G solves this problem by providing high-precision transmissions to each individual device, which allows it to handle up to 1 million devices in a square kilometer. That precision is crucial as mobile device usage continues to increase exponentially.
- Innovative mobile traffic usage: 4G networks’ radio waves can carry limited amounts of information, which is problematic because Ericsson's Mobility Report shows data traffic growing by 60% every year. 5G enables more people to use networks. It meets the demand for increased usage of social media, online gaming, and video streaming. It also enables crucial data-intensive use cases in the healthcare and industrial sectors, such as ambulance teams streaming an incident response directly to a hospital.
- More than a mobile network: The processing power of 5G takes it far beyond current network capabilities. It can become a distributed data center that performs processing tasks and brings edge computing closer to users. This allows the network to handle processing-intense tasks, such as games and augmented reality filters, instead of users’ phones, which improves performance and saves phone batteries. This could result in new innovations such as lightweight AR glasses and fleets of delivery drones.
How Does 5G Work?
Explaining 5G relies on understanding the following core components of the technology:
- 5G New Radio (NR) which defines the air interface upon which user, machines, and devices connect and send and receive data. 5G NR includes several low and mid-frequency bands in the sub-7 GHz range, defined as FR1, as well as higher frequency bands above 24 GHz, defined as FR2/mmWave. 5G frequency includes all previous cellular spectrum and additional spectrum in the sub-7 GHz frequency range and beyond. A key reason that additional spectrum is being made available is to overcome the physical limitations associated with throughput and bandwidth.
- 5G Next Generation Core (5G NGC) is the “brain” of the 5G network, providing control and management for the network, its services, and the connected devices. The new 5G core, as defined by 3GPP, utilizes cloud-aligned, service-based architecture (SBA) that spans across all 5G functions and interactions, including authentication, security, session management and aggregation of traffic from end devices. The 5G core further emphasizes Network Function Virtualization (NFV) as an integral design concept with virtualized software functions capable of being deployed in an agile and distributed manner.
- Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) is one of the key pillars for meeting the demanding KPIs of 5G, especially as far as low latency and bandwidth efficiency are concerned. MEC is also expected to play an essential role in the transformation of mobile networks into versatile service platforms for industry and other specific customer segments.
- IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) delivers IP based multimedia services, enabling mobile operators to offer a new generation of rich multimedia services. IMS offers access to IP based services independent of the access network.
What Does 5G Mean for Networking?
5G delivers the following main enhanced and new capabilities:
- Enhanced Mobile Broadband Communications (eMBB) that delivers up to Gbps speeds.
- Massive Machine to Machine Communications (mMMC) that supports high density (up to 1 million devices per square kilometer) and unique IoT requirements.
- Ultra-high Reliability and Low Latency Communications (uRLLC) enables the high reliability and very low latency that are critical for many industrial use cases.
- Network Slicing allows the delivery of isolated and customized “network slices” to meet specific traffic requirements and use cases. These may include KPIs such as QoS, capacity, latency, and security.
5G is the most secure commercial mobile generation and wireless technology, with enhanced authentication, encryption, and overall integrity. 5G is a critical enabler for enterprises' real objectives, which is the deployment and enablement of a great number of use cases that bring value and innovation in products, services, operations, safety, and agility. These may include such things as closed-loop process automation, real-time logistic management, augmented reality, predictive maintenance, and more. Delivery of such use cases requires the creation, deployment, and management of an interconnected 5G industrial ecosystem, including all related OT/IIoT devices and vendors, industrial applications and tools—both on-site and on public/partner clouds, and the 5G network itself.
Therefore, the 5G native security capabilities are only part of the story. The 5G ecosystem that interlocks enterprises, providers, and the partners serving their unique business interests creates a distributed attack surface that 5G on its own is unable to defend. The rise of the sophisticated attacks—ranging from Advanced Swarm-Attacks that will leverage 5G-enabled devices to overwhelm defenses, to increasingly sophisticated IoT/IIoT and API-based attacks that can leverage AI to speed delivery and outwit traditional and isolated security systems—warrants a defense-in-depth approach to security. One that builds on the foundation of native 5G security with additional security layers to protect the entire 5G ecosystem end-to-end to deliver business-critical enterprise use cases.
How Fortinet Can Help
Security is a condition for true and meaningful 5G adoption as a platform for innovation and transformation. Fortinet’s diverse portfolio and in-depth security experience across enterprises (IT), mobile network operators, operational technologies (OT), and IIoT/IoT has resulted in a uniform, practical, and flexible platform framework that is ideal for implementing security for the 5G ecosystem
The Fortinet Security Fabric is a flexible, adaptable, broad, intelligent and automated security platform. Its solutions are integrated into a unified, cohesive, and end-to-end security platform offering actionable threat intelligence and AI-based security automation tools. And because it can be deployed anywhere, in any form factor, it provides the security visibility, automation, and control required to seamlessly span the public and private 5G networks and services employed throughout the 5G industrial ecosystem.
Unlike any other solution, the Fortinet Security Fabric enables the building and deploying of a comprehensive shared security responsibility model that supports both 5G providers and their enterprise customers over the entire ecosystem and across all use cases. It provides the security foundations upon which a trusted 5G ecosystem can be implemented and put to work so 5G-enabled innovation can be securely delivered to enterprises across all verticals.
Why is 5G so important?
5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.
How does 5G work?
5G is composed from the following main components: 5G New Radio (NR), 5G Next-Generation Core (5G NGC), Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC), and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS).