5G Wireless Indoors with 5G mmWave System | 5G Indoor Small Cell Radio Node Technology | Corning

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To Make the 5G Dream Come True, Bring It Indoors

To Make the 5G Dream Come True, Bring It Indoors

By now, you’ve probably heard that 5G wireless is coming, and it will be something like a miracle – download a movie in 45 seconds on an iPhone12, connect robots so they can work in sync in a warehouse, let musicians in different places play a concert together with the precision of a live show.

But it won’t be such a miracle if it doesn’t work indoors. Unlike 4G cellular, the fastest 5G, called millimeter-wave (or mmWave), will have more difficulty going through many walls. Yet about 80% of all mobile traffic happens indoors. If the technology is going to transform work and everyday life, offices, factories, apartment towers, and other buildings will need to install indoor systems to propagate 5G inside and then carry the traffic outside.

It’s a challenging problem. The key to opening up all the blazing-fast, high-capacity promises of 5G is to get 5G indoor radio nodes close to users and machines, yet fewer than 10% of buildings have a dedicated indoor cellular system in place. Because every building and use case is different, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Many indoor wireless products tend to either be enormous – sized for stadiums, for example – or small boosters that can’t handle weighty enterprise applications.

Corning is the first to solve that problem. Corning invented low-loss optical fiber in 1970, perfected the technology, and has been the world’s dominant supplier of fiber-optic cable and systems for the past 50 years. The company knows how to design products that carry the bulk of the world’s data, whether across continents or around buildings. Corning began building systems that connect wireless communication to fiber lines. Building 5G systems is a natural extension of the company’s ethos of continually expanding the ability to move around exploding amounts of data and communication.

In September 2020, Verizon announced it had completed lab trials of Corning’s 5G in-building small cell (mmWave) solutions. That announcement follows a 2017 purchase agreement for a minimum of $1 billion of Corning’s optical solutions over three years as part of Verizon’s 5G rollout.

Now, the Corning mmWave in-building technology will allow Verizon to bring 5G into hospitals, manufacturing facilities, schools, ports, retail stores, and residential complexes.

Corning has also announced collaborations with Intel and Qualcomm as it works to bring 5G to the public.

Once installed, a 5G mmWave indoor system will mean much more than speedy downloads or multiplayer game play on an iPhone12 or Samsung Galaxy S20. It will create private, secure, highly reliable, blazing-speed, low-latency networks that will have a profound impact on business in a variety of use cases.

An end to office wires

It’s been a long time since most office workers have had to plug a cable into their computers. Wi-Fi started the cord-cutting movement, yet Wi-Fi has its limitations, which become apparent when, for instance, a videoconference becomes balky or you walk a laptop out of range. Indoor 5G takes the wireless revolution another step. Unlike public cell networks, indoor 5G can be set up as a private network, connecting only the people in that workplace, yet seamlessly and securely connecting to public 5G anywhere else. Wires and connectivity issues all but disappear, making offices more flexible. Indoor spaces could be reconfigured in an instant.

The speed of 5G can also transform the way we work. High-definition, low-latency videoconferencing will take away some of the elements that cause video meeting fatigue, creating an environment where people inside and outside an office can meet together on screen as effectively as if in person, cutting down on the need to gather in a dedicated conference room. As virtual reality improves, 5G will allow those on-screen meetings to become VR meetings, perhaps recreating the feeling of seeing someone in person. In a post-pandemic era, when many companies are rethinking the nature of office work and collaboration, indoor 5G can open the way for new ideas and concepts.

Industrial wireless

In coming years, machines will increasingly talk to machines – in fact, machines will talk more to machines than humans will connect to humans. It will take 5G indoor cellular to allow all of that data to fly around a factory, mine, or warehouse among hundreds, thousands or even millions of machines, devices and sensors. Indoor 5G will support a high density of machines and sensors in a way that would be impossible with wires or any other wireless solution. 5G indoors will be uniquely positioned to support these and many other high-tech innovations that will improve productivity and profitability of industrial companies.

What does that mean to an industrial site? Say a manufacturer wants to quickly respond to demand for a new product and reconfigure a factory floor to make more of it. If the production-line machines are all connected and controlled through 5G, the machines can simply be moved into place. Fixed wire networking would make that nearly impossible or at least time-consuming.

Potentially thousands of sensors on every part of the factory floor can monitor production, constantly relaying information about speed, quality and potential breakdowns to supervisors – but also to other machines, perhaps proactively halting a production line to stop a defect without human intervention.

Autonomous vehicles and robots will increasingly become crucial inside factories, warehouses, mines and refineries, especially in places considered dangerous for people. They will move materials around, inspect for problems, clean, make minor repairs. Simply guiding them safely requires vast amounts of data to be transmitted wirelessly, with little latency and no interruption. And that doesn’t take into account robots talking to robots so they can work together – for example one robot that detects a leak while on an inspection run and calls over HazMat robots to tidy up. Indoor 5G is particularly suited for autonomous vehicles moving around in a building or on a campus, connected through a secure private network.

Public safety

When 5G is working indoors, it can radically improve the capabilities of firefighters or disaster workers who arrive on the scene. Just as 5G mmWave can guide teams of robots in a factory, it could allow a rescue unit to deploy an array of robots and drones into a building that poses a grave risk to humans – during a raging fire or just after an earthquake. Self-guided drones could buzz through the building looking for trapped people, sending images back to rescuers. Robots could be sent in to douse flames or clear a safe path for human help to arrive.

Because 5G is fast and powerful enough to enable augmented reality, firefighter face shields could project floor plans with voice guidance directing them to trouble spots. Body-worn cameras could send back real-time video to command staff and other units in the field, helping them make decisions about support and next steps. And all of that data and imagery could be captured and used to build models for realistic simulations that can help train responders.

Wireless hospitals

Augmented reality and robotic surgery are already making their way into operating rooms, but the need for absolute reliability and low latency mean such machines have required wired solutions. Now 5G small cells will allow those cords to be cut, helping hospitals to much more quickly reconfigure surgical units for different patient needs or to bring in additional machines during an emergency.

In fact, no setting is more in need of the reliability, security and low latency of 5G mmWave than inside healthcare facilities, where a slight pause could mean life or death, and where highly personal patient information must be kept private. The healthcare industry is increasingly deploying all kinds of wireless devices and sensors to help monitor patients, ranging from heart monitors to oximeters to glucometers. All of those devices will be able to flow readings to doctors and nurses over 5G, allowing them – with assistance from artificial intelligence – to watch constantly for anomalies that suggest a problem, similar to a nurse standing over a patient 24/7.

Doctors and surgeons rely on data-rich high-resolution images, such as those from MRIs, to help with diagnoses or surgeries. With 5G in buildings cellular, those could be transmitted quickly and easily across a healthcare campus, saving precious time during an emergency. In such time-sensitive situations, a specialist in one part of a hospital could be beamed in via high-definition video to consult about the condition of a patient in another area that might be a 10-minute walk away.

Instant artistic collaboration

Not everything about 5G is as critical as applications in healthcare and safety. The speed and low latency of indoor 5G can open possibilities for collaborating in the arts, too. One example is music – made more apparent by COVID-19 pandemic, which made it difficult for musicians to gather in a studio or on a stage. When playing music together, any latency can throw off the entire effort. If the drum sound takes a split second too long to reach the bass player, the rhythm will sound out of sync. In a 5G world, each musician could be alone in a different studio separated by long distances, and be able to play as if they were in the same room. They could rehearse or, play a live-streamed concert. The same would apply to theater or improv, which require split-second timing. With 5G mmWave, an improv troupe could all be in separate places and play off each other as if standing on stage in front of an audience.

Corning’s 5G small cell offerings are powerful and flexible enough to make any of those scenarios possible. Corning hardware is already known for its small, elegant, low-power indoor-wireless packages, and the goal is for customers to receive the same with this 5G solution, in partnership with Verizon, Intel and Qualcomm.

To better address enterprise customer needs, Corning and Intel collaborated to deliver a virtual platform for Corning’s 5G in-building network solution powered by Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors and Intel® FlexRAN Reference Software Architecture. Following that, Corning partnered with Qualcomm, utilizing the Qualcomm Small Cell 5G platform to deliver 5G-NR capability over mmWave spectrum for large indoor environments, such as offices, university campuses, hospitals, hotels, shopping centers and sport venues.

All in all, Corning is dedicated to making the 5G miracle come true.