Defining Common 5G Terms – A Quick Glossary
The world of 5G technology can be difficult to understand, even for the most experienced developers. This glossary will provide useful definitions of common 5G-related terms often found in press releases and news articles.
New radio frequencies (NR) – This simply refers to new radio frequency bands in which 5G networks can operate. These frequency bands are designated by the 3GPP in each of their releases.
Antenna and Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) – MIMO means “Multiple-input and Multiple-output.” Antenna and Multi-User MIMO refer to methods by which data signals can be sent and received simultaneously.
Small cells – Small cells are special, low-powered wireless radio access nodes which have a short range from 10 meters to several kilometers. They are used as an alternative to larger macrocell towers for a variety of reasons.
Beamforming – This refers to a signal processing technique which is used to receive directional signals without interference, increasing throughput by allowing more wireless connections.
Radio convergence – This refers to the ability of 5G to “converge” with Wi-Fi, providing a more seamless experience when used in dense, indoor deployments.
NOMA (Non-Orthogonal Multiple Access) – NOMA is a method by which signals from multiple users can be separated and processed to support more connections and increase bandwidth and throughput.
3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) – A consortium of global telecom organizations, which works to define the requirements of the 5G networks and standardize global telecommunications.
Real-Time Communications (RTC) – This refers to the simultaneous or near-simultaneous communication of data between two points, with negligible latency.
Ethernet – Ethernet is a family of cables and technologies used for LANs (local area networks), physically connecting computers to networking devices.
VLAN (virtual LAN) – Virtual LANs are defined using special software, allowing for network segmentation, traffic filtering, and the splitting of network traffic.
Latency – Latency is the time, usually measured in milliseconds, in which it takes for a signal to reach a destination and return to the user.
Spectrum – This refers to a specific set of broadband frequencies – measured in Hz – in which a wireless network operates.
Millimeter wave – This is an Extremely High Frequency (EHF) broadband technology, using wavelengths of 1-10 millimeters, which provide extremely high data throughput rates.
Full duplex – This term refers to a communication system which allows for simultaneous transmission and reception of data between two parties, such as between two people speaking on a telephone.
Fiber-only transmission – This term refers to wireless networks which exclusively use fiber-based cables to transmit data, without the use of older technologies like copper electrical cabling.
IP multimedia subsystems (IMS) – This refers to a specialized type of architectural framework, designated by the 3GPP, which is used to deploy multimedia services to mobile devices.