Introduction to 5G Infrastructure

Introduction to 5G Infrastructure

By Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence White Papers

1. Introduction

5G has become a facilitator of smarter and novel ways of working. With the advancement in technology, the rise in the number of smartphones, and the surge in internet connectivity, 5G deployment has been accelerating worldwide at a significant rate. According to the data given by Huawei, over 150K 5G base stations were deployed in 2019, and the number has been growing significantly. The deployment of 5G had been accelerating the 1 Gbit/s in average speed, with significant peak rates of 10 Gbit/s. The deployment of 5G has been enhancing and supporting a wide range of industries, such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), high-definition video surveillance, telemedicine, and others.

A clearer and affirmative identification of 5G players and stakeholders support the development, evolution, and creation of the new and advanced 5G ecosystems by characterizing the potential role of every actor involved in the 5G ecosystem. The stakeholder group includes a wide range of players, such as vertical sector companies, R&D institutes, and organizations, as well as other players involved in the overall value chain. Furthermore, standard institutes and organizations, policy developers, and makers constitute a significant part of the 5G ecosystem. The increasing involvement of governmental agencies at different levels, such as regional, national and global, are also projected to support a significant part of the industry value chain.

Real Estate Infrastructure constitutes an imperative part of the 5G ecosystem. It includes the involvement of tower manufacturers and service providers, small cells, and DAS solutions providers. 5G towers are known as telecommunications sites that are competent in transmitting and generating 5G novel radio signals for wide coverage areas. An exponential surge in 5G device purchases has been driving the demand for 5G real estate infrastructure worldwide. The involvement of mobile network operators and tower owners, with several partnerships or collaborations with telecom tower manufacturing firms, has been projected to surge the installation of novel 5G cell towers to improve or modify their existing 4G cell sites with new and advanced 5G equipment.

2. Overview

The deployment of 4G had been a revolution in the telecommunications industry. However, with the introduction of 5G, the global telecommunications sector has been projected for further enhancement. 5G has been featuring and offering massive connections, ultra-broadband, and infinite opportunities for consumers, worldwide. Operators have been enhancing and upgrading towers and other 5G-related infrastructure with new and advanced resources and equipment that show compatibility with the novel spectrum. Equipment manufacturers, such as Nokia, Huawei, and Ericsson, have been working to offer 5G radio gear, several support functions, and wider standards. The 5G real-estate infrastructure has been segmented between:

5G real-estate infrastructure

The vendors offering these solutions and services have played an imperative role in the market growth. 5G's coverage and speed capabilities heavily rely on advanced network densification, which requires the inclusion and addition of small cells and towers to the new or existing network. The 5G benchmark and standards offer lesser spectral provisional and efficiency gains and benefits than earlier generations of network infrastructure and technology. Instead, enhanced capacity and speed are derived from the operator's ability to utilize and use substantial blocks of higher frequencies and contagious spectrum. This requires adding around 3 to 10 times the number of given and existing sites to their respective networks. Most of the additional network and infrastructure will be built and developed with sets of small cells and other solutions using utility phones, lamp posts, and other similar-sized structures.

Several countries have been making an extensive impact in the 5G real estate infrastructure development. For instance, China has been constructing and building network sites and infrastructure significantly. China Tower, one of the major telecom firms in China, had stated that it had owned around 96% of small cells, DAS sites, and macro towers in China in 2019. The company had also stated that it had invested over US$17 billion in the capital since 2015. The United States, South Korea, and Japan have also made a substantial impact on 5G real estate development. Europe has also invested considerable resources in R&D and technology development of 5G real-estate networks and solutions through the 5G Private-Public-Partnership. Based on these developments, the 5G real estate infrastructure network will become a major and essential part of the ecosystem.

3. 5G PPP Target Stakeholders

In this section, we have provided an overview of the 5G public-private partnership stakeholders. These actors have been instrumental in the development and enhancement of 5G technology worldwide. The 5G PPP Target model is given below:

FIGURE 1:     Overview of 5G Public-Private-Partnership Ecosystem

5G public-private-partnership ecosystem

Source: Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence

  1. 5G Industry & R&D:
    1. Connectivity Providers: Small cell operators, tower manufacturers, mobile network operators, DAS solution providers, hotspot providers, and others.
    2. Technology Developers and providers: Equipment providers, chipset and component manufacturers, and others.
  2. 5G Financing Bodies & Policy Makers:
    1. Policy Makers: CEPT, ECC, CISA, TRAI, NITI AYOG, and others.
    2. Financing Bodies: National, regional, local agencies, private firms.
  3. Standards and Open Source Organisations:
    1. Standardization Organisation: 3GPP, ASTM, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and others.
    2. Open-Source Organisation: Cloudify, OpenRoadM, free5GC, open5Gcore, and others.
  4. Industry Verticals:
    1. Automotive: Vehicle Manufacturers, technology providers, and others.
    2. Farming and Agriculture
    3. Energy: utility, power consumption, smart grid operators, and others.
    4. Healthcare: health firms, insurance firms, supply chain partners, and others.
    5. Smart Cities
    6. Transport & Logistics: rail, maritime, road operators, and others.
    7. Other industries

As 5G technology evolves, these groups and associations have been continuously identifying and finding new parties for association in the new 5G evolution. The above diagram shows the actors and the roles they play in the 5G market. Furthermore, with the increase in several measures, such as regulations, scrutiny, and global technology rivalry and challenges, the number of actors involved in the 5G ecosystem has surged significantly. In the above diagram, there are four components. First, the players involved in the 5G industry and R&D provide connectivity solutions and other related equipment. These companies are also involved in research and development and explore new opportunities through collaborations, partnerships, and joint ventures. Second, policy builders and financing bodies are the ones that have been defining the new 5G working and eco-system. The governments worldwide have been playing an instrumental role in setting these policies and also providing financial assistance and investment to the stakeholders involved. Third, standard organizations have played an instrumental role in the 5G ecosystem. These organizations have complied with the new technologies and offer standard procedures regarding those aspects. Fourth, industry verticals, such as healthcare and manufacturing, have played an imperative role in the 5G ecosystem. Moreover, the role of stakeholders, ranging from small to large, is further projected to advance the telecom revolution in the coming years.

4. 5G Real Estate Architecture

4.1. 5G Network Architecture

Operators worldwide have been integrating new and advanced 5G networks with the existing and available 4G networks to offer a streamlined and continuous connection to their users. 5G network architecture has illustrated and showed 4G and 5G working together, with the local, regional and central servers offering content faster for low latency and user applications. The architecture diagram is given below:

FIGURE 2:     Overview of 5G Network Architecture

5G network architecture

Source: Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence

A 5G network architecture usually consists of two imperative components, known as Core Network and Radio Access Network.

The Core Network, also known as the data and mobile exchange network, manages the internet, data, and mobile voice connections. Many of the novel and advanced features of 5G also include network slicing and function virtualization for several services and applications. The following diagram shows the illustration between local and regional cloud servers offering content to users for vehicle collision avoidance functions:

FIGURE 3:     5G Uses an In-Vehicle Collision Avoidance System

5G uses an in-vehicle collision avoidance system

Source: Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence

The selection of advanced RAN solutions and core networks is imperative to the 5G speed and lesser response times.

Network Slicing and NVF (also known as network function virtualization) have been imperative to the 5G real estate infrastructure advancement and growth. The increase in the adoption of digitization by small, medium, and large enterprises, has generated a significant demand for advanced technological solutions. Industries such as healthcare and manufacturing are projected to benefit from an extensive 5G network and solutions. For instance, healthcare and emergency services, to our projections, will be operating on an advanced network slice independently from other applications and users.

The Radio Access Network contains different types of cells and equipment, such as telecom towers, small cells, and DAS solutions, that connect various types of wireless devices and mobile users to the main imperative network.

  • Small cells are the most imperative feature of advanced 5G networks that are placed at the new mmWave frequencies and bandwidth, where the connection is at a shorter distance. To offer streamlined and continuous connections, small cells are projected to play a significant role in the 5G network ecosystem.
  • 5G macrocells have been using MIMO (Multiple Input and Output) antennas known for their multiple connections and elements to send or receive simultaneous data and output.

4.2. 5G Functional Architecture

FIGURE 4:     5G Functional Architecture

5G Functional Architecture

Source: Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence

5. 5G Real Estate Infrastructure, by Classification

5.1. Introduction

The 5G Real Estate Infrastructure has been classified and segmented between telecom and cell towers, small cells, and DAS solutions. These elements work together to form a comprehensive and elaborative functioning 5G system. 5G cell towers have been used to transmit new radio signals for extensive coverage. With the increase in the number of mobile phone users and the number of internet connections, there has been a demand for cell towers worldwide. Small cells have also been projected to register extensive demand in the coming years. According to several official telecom industry sources, by 2026, over 38 million small cells are projected to be deployed. Enterprises are projected to have a significant share in the small cell deployment, followed by urban and rural service and solutions providers. DAS solutions are projected to register extensive growth in the coming years. A distributed antenna system has been used to bring cellular and mobile coverage to areas where it is difficult to send a signal from outdoor 5G cell towers. With the rise in the number of stakeholders in the 5G ecosystem, the real estate infrastructure division has been projected to register significant growth in the coming years.

5G real estate infrastructure

5.2. 5G Cell Towers

5.2.1. Overview

The 5G towers are known as telecommunication sites capable of transmitting 5G new radio signals for wide-area coverage. Their height ranges from 50 to 200 feet and is designed to blend in the natural environment limiting aesthetic impact. They use a combination of high, medium, and low-frequency bands for several connectivity use cases. For instance, macrocell antennas can be deployed in the towers for the efficient delivery of low-frequency cellular coverage to several devices in a large region. Additionally, the unique feature of low band 5G is that it can travel from a far distance and can penetrate the windows, or even walls, and many other physical barriers.

However, certain factors affect the 5G cell towers’ coverage capabilities, such as surrounding vegetation, antenna orientation and height, the frequency band used for transmission, and building materials such as bricks, concrete, and glass. The tower is segregated into types of locations, such as ground and rooftop towers. On the basis of the frequency bands, the towers are distributed as high bands, medium bands, and low bands.

Key Driving Factors

One of the primary factors contributing to the growth in the 5G tower market is the growing trend of purchasing 5G devices globally. Plus, the demand for internet use has been at its peak in recent years. Due to this, many network providers are working on expanding their network capacity and coverage facilities. They are also stepping up to suspend overage caps that offer lower wireless cost services and broadband services with no cancellation services. Additionally, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, it was projected to impact the sale of 5G devices, mainly smartphones, but the smartphone market during this period experienced a growth. This paved the way for the rise in the provision of network services.

Moreover, in addition to the Information and communication technology (ICT), the advancements in smart factories and autonomous vehicles are also expected to boost the demand for the 5G network services with high internet speed, expanded network capacity, wireless and broadband services, and removal of excess caps at reduced costs. As these features add momentum to the industrial growth and cite the report by increasing the productivity of industries, the tower projects are expected to show rapid growth. Additionally, 5G towers are powered by cloud-based cored. This allows physical functions to move around the network and be virtualized. To deliver an ultra-low latency to the updated software to make it easier to new features, the new technology needs to install the 5G towers in the locality.

5.2.2. Architecture

The given figure illustrates the working of a cell tower. There are several tower components included in the process, ranging from the elevated structure, antennas, equipment, and additional utilities:

  1. Cell Phone Tower Structure: There are different types of telecom and cell towers available, ranging from monopole, guyed, lattice, and others. The operators select the tower based on its requirement and whether it is compatible with the rooftop or ground.
  2. Radio Frequency equipment: These types of equipment plays an imperative role in the cell tower working process. They are mainly of two different types, outdoor, indoor, or roof applicable and mounted. Radiofrequency equipment helps convert baseband information into the form which is to be received by the radio frequency antennas.
  3. Radio Frequency Antennas: Each cell and telecom tower uses different types of multiple antennas on its structure. Around 3 to 18 antennas are being hosted on a single site. With an increase in the capacity of the users and subscribers, the number of antennas potentially increases.
  4. Other utilities include power supply, from AC to DC. It also hosts a battery backup system in case of power shutdown or failure.

FIGURE 5:     Cell Phone Tower Working Process

cell phone tower working process

Source: Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence

5.3. 5G Small Cells

5.3.1. Overview

The small cells are deployed in outdoor and indoor environments for the rapid delivery of data services to customers. They are low-power base stations that are used to improve the network capacity and coverage by helping to bolster the wireless connectivity of end-users. They play a very vital role in 5G networks. At present, they are mostly deployed under low-frequency bands to deliver an improved bandwidth service. The small cells deliver 5 G-powered applications in enterprises that include corporate offices, manufacturing, distribution facilities, and entertainment or public venues such as stadiums, shopping malls, or even hotels. In the last few years, to overcome 5G coverage limitations, small cells are playing a vital role as key solutions.

The small cell is available in various types, such as Microcell, metro cell, Femtocell, and Picocell. The demand for femtocell is expected to grow due to the growing demand in small enterprises and homes. Other than homes and small enterprises, the deployment of the small cell is also applied in medium enterprises, large enterprises, consumers, and single or home offices. Due to the unique feature of small cells hiding in the smaller areas with the provision of high bandwidth is boosting its demand from the small and medium enterprises. Whereas by operating environment, the market is segmented into the indoor operating environment and outdoor operating environment. Because of the improved network coverage and high indoor network connectivity, the deployment of the small cells is more in the indoor operating environment compared to the outdoor one.

Key Market Drivers

One of the key driving factors for the small cell market is the citizen broadband radio service band. It offers a new spectrum resource that is allocated for indoor mobile networks. Its indoor use frees up all valuable licensed spectrum. Many market players are redefining small indoor cells with the most cost-effective and high-performance indoor radio system that addresses a range of indoor environments with common solutions. The deployment of Citizen broadband radio service eliminates the co-channel interference between indoor and macro networks. It also enhances user experience and simplifies network integration efforts compared to Wi-Fi offloading. It provides several operational benefits to operators, CIOs, IT managers, building owners, and campuses with several building sizes and user traffic. Due to the increasing demand for network coverage in smaller areas and wireless transmitters, the demand for small cells is growing.

Moreover, in places like offices, airports, stadiums, and factories, the advanced indoor connectivity propels the 5G use cases. The small cells are deployed where the microcell coverage is very poor, and power is unavailable all day. Throughput testing and unit size reduction can reduce the deployment cost as well.

5.3.2. Architecture

To allow efficient and productive functioning, large deployments of small cells will be a key factor for the growth of the 5G ecosystem. The backhauling and architecture structure of the small cell includes macro base stations, which function through wired and wireless backhauling mechanisms. Moreover, cloud-based architecture, cooperation through anchor base stations, and multi-hopping at short-range units has been the key factor in small cell deployment. The backhaul requirements vary with respect to the location of small cells, the total cost of the connections, target and latency quality, and the overall load intensity of the small cells. The given figure illustrates the backhauling and the architectural mechanism of the small cell network.

There has been a surge in demand for wired-based backhaul connections and solutions, as they offer high reliability and can go through bigger distances. However, as the small cells serve a lesser traffic load, wireless solutions are also projected to play a significant role. Therefore, it has been considered that the backhaul transmission of 5G small cells would leverage the combination of wireless and wired connections and solutions. The major wireless backhaul solutions usually leverage the exploitation of the mm-wave spectrum in a 60 to 80GHz band.

FIGURE 6:     Evolution of 5G Small Cell Network

evolution of 5G small cell network

Source: Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence

5.4. Das Solutions

5.4.1. Overview

Distributed Antenna System (DAS) is a network made up of spatially separated antenna nodes connected to a common source through a transport medium that provides wireless service in a specific geographical area or structure. It can be deployed indoors, that is, iDAS, or even outdoors, that is, oDAS. Their elevations are usually at or below a clutter level, and nodes are compacted. DAS can be implemented by using feeders and passive splitters or by using active-repeater amplifiers to overcome the feeder losses. By implementing DAS, indoor WIFI can be propagated for commercial uses. They can be deployed inside a building to increase wireless signals. They can also be placed in a large structure such as a corporate headquarters or stadium. They are often placed on the top utility poles, traffic signal poles, and streetlight poles.

There are different types of distributed antenna systems such as Active, Passive, Digital, and Hybrid. It is applicable in the sectors such as Enterprise DAS and public safety DAS. Along with the telecommunication sector, the demand for the DAS is increasing in other sectors, such as manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, government, sports, and entertainment.

Key Market Drivers

One of the prominent factors boosting the growth of the DAS market is public safety. To avoid the rate of deaths due to fires in the country has paved the way for rising DAS adoption owing to the increasing significance in public safety. According to the regulations by International Fire Code, 95% of coverage is required in all the areas. Moreover, according to the National Fire Protection Association, 99% of coverage is needed in places of vital importance, especially those designated by the local fire department. The DAS market has also experienced growing penetration of high-speed internet technologies, especially 5G, which has led to modifications in the public safety and building of wireless DAS to support such high internet speed. This has allowed extended reach and promoted the market’s growth globally, especially in developed countries that have adopted a digital and high-speed internet systems.

Moreover, the growing trend of developing smart cities in developed and developing countries has also led to the rapid applications of public safety wireless DAS in many residential and commercial building areas. This has a positive impact on the global DAS market, particularly in the public safety in-building wireless sectors. Furthermore, rising mobile data traffic, rising need for spectrum efficiency, the Internet of Things resulting in the proliferation of connected devices, and increasing consumer demand for extended network coverage as well as uninterrupted connectivity has also led to a boost in demand for the advanced antenna system. Several market players are chasing this rising demand as an opportunity and implementing various strategies to boost the productivity and installation of more DAS.

6. Competitive Analysis

6.1. Market Lucrativeness

With the rise in the number of smartphones and the growth in mobile traffic, the demand for advanced 5G real estate infrastructure equipment and solutions is projected to surge significantly in the coming years. According to the data given by the World Bank, there were more than 4.5 billion internet users in 2021. The number of firms offering cell tower, small cell, and DAS solutions have been projected to grow at a major rate in the coming years. . For instance, in June 2021, American Tower Corporation announced to acquire Telxius Towers, which comprised around 20,000 communication sites in Spain and Germany for approximately 6.2 billion euros. Other key players have also been projected to make a considerable impact in the market during the next few years. In April 2021, SBA Communications Corporation announced the sale of its first cell tower securitization. According to the company, wireless service providers witness advancements in 5G network services, and the demand for telecom assets is projected to grow.

Many market players came up with various developments that boosted the market growth of small cells worldwide. For instance, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, in May 2021, launched two indoor 5G products named AIR 1279 and Ericsson Radio Dot 4459. The Antenna Integrated Radio 1279 with 800 MHz is claimed to provide double performance by offering advanced software features and beamforming capabilities with an optimized total cost of ownership. Whereas the Radio Dot 4459 has been designed to support CBRS New radio which is of 150 MHz wide broadcast band with C-Band spectrum. In September 2020, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Launched an integrated 5G mm-Wave small cell for use indoors as a part of full sites in the company of 5G in-building products. This small cell by Samsung will help provide an enhanced 5G and seamless experience for users in indoor environments. The Link Cell is one of the first to provide wireless operators with mm-Wave indoor small cells.

The firms offering DAS solutions are also projected to surge in the coming years. For instance, In December 2021, Public Safety DAS announced using Bi-Directional Amplifier technology, which offers 2-way radio communication and enhances it through an antenna system. In January 2020, NEC Corporation, a leading company in the integration of network technologies and IT, announced the development of a millimeter-wave Distributed antenna system to use the 5G millimeter-wave spectrum efficiently. In May 2020, SOLiD launched edgeROU, a fiber-to-edge remote unit for a product family of ALLIANCE DAS. The edgeROU is specifically designed for solving the challenges experienced by mobile users in the building. It is based on the proven ALLIANCE technology committed to delivering anywhere, any time, seamless service customers expect. In February 2021, AT&T installed a 5G DAS across the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Puget healthcare system, with a pilot plan in applications in the healthcare sector using mobile edge computing.

6.2. Cell Tower Players Comparison Table

Companies Mentioned

No. of Towers Operated & Managed (in Thousands)

Types of Towers Provided

Rooftop    GROUND-BASED

Tenancy Ratio

 

china tower corporation

 

2023000

 

   YES                   YES

 

1.66X

 

american tower corporation

 

186000

 

   YES                   YES

 

2.6X

 

INDUS TOWERS LTD.

 

179225

 

   YES                   YES

 

2.0X

 

CELLNEX TELECOM

 

71000

 

   YES                   YES

 

1.46X

 

VANTAGE TOWERS

 

82000

 

   YES                   YES

 

1.95X

Source: Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence

6.3. Small Cell Players Comparison Table

Companies Mentioned

Model Name

Technology

Cell radius

Frequency Range

 

LM ERICSSON

 

Ericsson radio dot 4459

 

UMTS, LTE

 

½ TO 1 MILE

 

800MHz

 

SAMSUNG

 

samsung link cell

 

UMTS, LTE

 

2 TO 15 MILES

 

28GHz

 

HUAWEI TECHNOLOGIES

 

pico, atomcell & lampsite

 

 UMTS,   HSPA, LTE

 

2 TO 15 MILES, 750 ft

 

700MHz to 2.6GHz

 

NEC EUROPE

 

fp813, fpa1624, mimo aas

 

UMTS, HSPA, LTE

 

250 meter

 

1710-2170MHz

 

ZTE CORPORATION

 

zte’S QCELL SERIES

 

UMTS, HSPA, LTE

 

2 to 15 miles

 

100-300MHz

Source: Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence

7. Conclusion

5G is expected to bring imperative changes to people's lives in the next few years. With the rise in the adoption of digitization by enterprises, government institutions, and other players, the demand for real estate infrastructure has been projected to grow significantly. In the next few years, 5 G-based solutions have been expected to become a key element of global property, commercial and residential infrastructure. The growth in adopting renewable and clean energy, with imperative elements, like gas and water, is projected to drive the monetization of 5G networks.

Operators have to ensure comprehensive and proper network planning with alignment with global telecom standardization policies. Furthermore, the 5G infrastructure planning design must also refine on the basis of the B2H, B2B, and B2C service requirements.

In conclusion, 5G real estate infrastructure has been projected to become a key core of mobile networks in the modern telecom era.  Major stakeholders and players will continue to work with the governing bodies, users, and consumers to increase and enhance the adoption of new 5G-based solutions.

About the Author

Rohil Mahajan is a Market Research Analyst at Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence LLP. Rohil has a strong background in qualitative research. His strong suit is gathering and analyzing key market data to assist businesses in gaining or maintaining a competitive advantage. Visit www.knowledge-sourcing.com to read more of her articles and learn more about various global markets.