5G Technology, Deployment, and Innovation | Corning

5G is here – and it’s made of glass

5G is here – and it’s made of glass

Mobile devices are all around us – in homes, office buildings, hotels, hospitals, factories, airports, and more – and new digital applications are emerging all the time. Increasingly, these applications require the higher speeds made possible by 5G networks.

These networks are only wireless “at the edge,” that is, from the antennas to our mobile phones. Behind those antennas is a wired infrastructure that uses large amounts of optical fiber, hair-thin specialized glass developed by Corning scientists to accommodate the extreme increase of data rates driven by the new applications.

What is 5G?

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of cellular networks, building on technology that’s been around since the first cellular network was launched in 1983. The first three generations of cellular networks mainly supported voice and text transmissions. The fourth generation (4G) was designed to accommodate rising data transmission rates for mobile web usage. The fifth generation (5G) is designed to deliver even higher data rates and speed up network response (latency) to allow billions of devices to all connect to the network (Internet of Things) at the same time.

5G will also propel communities into the future, connecting not just mobile devices but also billions of sensors, advanced robotics, smart homes, and factories to transform the way we live, work, and play.

How is 5G rolled out?

How is 5G rolled out?

Cellular carriers around the world are taking three distinct approaches to 5G, largely based on what spectrum bands – low, mid, and high – are available for their use. Each spectrum operates on its own range of radio frequencies to carry data to cellular users. The spectrum that the carrier chooses affects the coverage and network speeds they can deliver to their customers. 

In regions with fewer people, including rural areas, carriers rely on a low-band spectrum, which offers greater coverage and range but lower bandwidth capabilities. Cellular carriers with access to a mid-band spectrum have the best of both worlds – high-bandwidth capability with good range ­– most operators use this band to deploy 5G as a baseline.

In large cities with high population density, carriers plan to deploy 5G infrastructure that leverages a high-band millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum. This spectrum offers very high bandwidth capabilities over short distances and requires small cell antennas every 300 meters or so to provide adequate coverage.

5G spectrum bands

How does Corning support 5G?

How does Corning support 5G?

5G technology relies on optical fiber invented by Corning scientists over 50 years ago to quickly transmit high amounts of data between the antennas and the network. Today, Corning’s unique combination of capabilities – in manufacturing, leadership, and innovation – enables us to provide comprehensive support to customers all over the world. In addition to state-of-the-art products, our experts can help carriers find the fastest, easiest, and most cost-effective way to deliver optical fiber connectivity for any 5G project.   

Demystifying 5G – Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does 5G stand for?

    5G is the fifth generation of cellular networks, and it is expected to be one of the fastest wireless technologies ever created. (This is not to be confused with the 5G that you may see on your Wi-Fi router, which refers to 5 GHz frequency for your home broadband network.)

  • What does 5G do?

    5G wireless technology is meant to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience to more users. Higher performance and improved efficiency empower new user experiences and connect new industries.

  • How does 5G work?

    Wireless communications systems use radio frequencies (also known as a spectrum) to carry information through the air. 5G operates in the same way but uses higher and lower radio frequencies than those used by its predecessors – 2G, 3G, and 4G.

    Higher radio frequencies allow 5G to carry more information at a much faster rate since this part of the frequency spectrum is less cluttered. These higher bands are called 'millimeter waves' (mmWaves) and will be used mostly in dense urban environments in the form of small outdoor cells placed at the street level on facades and poles. In lower-density areas, 5G will operate using the lower radio frequencies, known as Sub 6 GHz, transmitted by big macrocells placed on top of the towers and rooftops.

  • What makes 5G different from 4G?

    Keyword 5G vs. 4G. The three major differences between 4G and 5G are faster speeds, higher bandwidth, and lower "latency," or lag time in communications between devices and servers.

  • When will 5G be available?

    Every region of the world has its own 5G calendar since the level of investment required by operators in each country varies greatly depending on the frequency spectrum allocation, the density of the existing mobile towers, the competitive landscape, etc. However, some important global organizations predict we will see high-bandwidth 5G coverage for all streets, highways, and rural areas around 2027.

  • How will 5G change our world?

    5G is expected to be the key to innovation in tomorrow's future, as it will be more than just an upgrade for faster data networks. 5G will bring about major changes in how we connect since it was designed to enable large-scale, smart, real-time connectivity.

    One of the most impactful features of 5G is its low latency, referring to how fast the mobile network responds or how fast the information travels back and forth from our terminals and the network. 4G has a latency of about 50 ms, while 5G will reduce this to less than 1 ms. This low latency will allow for large-scale, precise, real-time remote control across longer distances. In practice, it could turn extremely delicate operations, such as remote surgery, into reality.

We’re ready for 5G

We’re ready for 5G

Corning offers a wide range of products and solutions to enable the optical fiber connections needed for macro- and small-cell 5G outdoor antennas. Our Fiber-to-the-Site (FTTSite) solutions are designed to help carriers efficiently connect their networks to cellular towers for transmission. By replacing traditional coax cables or microwave P2P links with fiber, more reliable bandwidth can be delivered to meet the growing demand for more data.

We also offer fiber-to-the-antenna (FTTA) solutions that deliver connectivity from the closest carrier’s point of presence to 5G radios.

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