5G: A technological gap at the service of digital transformation

5G will increase network capacity, offer significantly higher speeds, and make it possible to develop many innovative services for the general public and businesses: virtual and augmented reality, ultra high definition video (UHD), autonomous vehicle, smart city, etc.

A question about 5G ?

What is 5G? What is it?

5G is the new generation of mobile networks introduced by the telecom industry. It responds to the initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), known as "IMT- 2020", which defines the main categories of performance that these new technologies will enable to achieve.

While the introduction on new frequencies makes it possible to provide more capacity to networks (which should be saturated by 2020 for the densest areas), the promises of 5G are based above all on several major technological breakthroughs in the field of wireless communications.

Infographie: La révolution technologique de la 5G | Statista

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The promises of 5G

The 5G connection will do more than improve speeds: it will also ensure the development of new and ever more instantaneous uses and the coverage of specific innovation needs in various sectors.

Mobile ultra high-speed broadband (eMBB : enhanced Mobile BroadBand)

5G promises throughputs, whose needs are constantly increasing, up to 10 times higher than those of 4G. This is thanks to :

  • New coding techniques on radio signals to increase the number of bits transmitted by hertz,
  • Widening of the terrestrial bands: 5G plans to extend to higher bands than those used until now (e. g. 26 GHz). These are so-called "millimetre" bands that have spectrum available in large quantities.


An ultra-reliable and very low latency network (uRLLC: ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication)

More than throughput, 5G will probably make the difference by guaranteeing a high level of communication reliability.

Indeed, 5G will offer ultra-reliable communications thanks to better management of interference, sources of data loss. Latency, i.e. the time taken to transmit the communication, will be divided by 10.

The Internet of Things (IoT) massive (mMTC : massive Machine Type Communication)

The very low level of latency offered by 5G opens up opportunities for interactivity and remote control of precision objects (e.g. robots, surgical instruments, etc.) that will revolutionize our uses.

5G will allow the existence of a higher density of connected objects than today eand with a significantly reduced energy consumption per object (which will substantially increase the battery life of these objects). Indeed, 5G will make it possible, among other things, to transmit only where and when it is necessary, by adapting the transmission power to use.

Tactis - Franck Abihssira

Franck Abihssira

Associate Director
30 years' experience in the telecom, Internet and media sectors in management positions (TF1, TPS Bouygues Télécom), pioneer of triple play offers in France. At Tactis, he supports M&A operations, strategic missions and innovation management, including in particular the introduction of 5G.


5G : a "tailor-made" network

5G will be based on an intelligent network that will offer different performances according to the targeted uses (sliced configuration or "network slicing"). This network will be able to reconfigure itself dynamically.

For example, for ultra high-speed needs such as 4K, 8K, 3D or VR (virtual reality) video, the network will offer maximum throughput and high capacity. To manage connected objects, the network will focus its resources on managing a large number of simultaneous connections. Finally, when ultra-reliable communications with very low latency are required, maximum performance will be achieved by reducing the number of simultaneous communications or throughput.

The issues and challenges of 5G

Industrial challenges for France

In France, the telecommunications sector represented 75 billion euros of income, 166,000 direct jobs and 10 billion euros of investment in 2017.

The Government is currently supporting several R&D projects around 5G with the aim of promoting the development of a range of technologies and services.

Beyond the telecommunications sector, 5G promises to be a digital transformation engine for the entire industry (automotive, transport, energy, smart cities, agriculture, etc.) with the new uses it allows and the prospects it offers in terms of competitiveness.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of new industrial opportunities offered by 5G:

  • Remote monitoring, control and reconfiguration of industrial machines and robotic production lines that can be reconfigured quickly and easily,
  • End-to-end logistics follow-up of a very large number of parcels or items, particularly in large sorting nodes (e.g. ports, stations, airports, etc.)
  • Tele-operations of all kinds (e.g. in the field of health, mining, etc.) thanks to low latency and the exchange of UHD video images,
  • Accurate monitoring of herds on farms using livestock sensors.


Challenges for the general public

In the continuity of the uses allowed by 4G, 5G will find applications for the general public. Here are some examples:

  • Downward and upward streaming of UHD videos,UHD,
  • 360° virtual reality in wireless connectivity that applies to many uses (e.g. games, education, professional training, tourism, etc.),
  • High-speed, low-latency connectivity for vehicles and transport infrastructure (e.g. for connected vehicles, for entertainment, etc.),
  • Data recovery from tomorrow's smart city to check, for example, road flows and various levels of pollution.


The challenges of 5G

The implementation of 5G will also present many technical challenges such as :

  • The densification of networks. The use of 5G will force operators to increase the number of antennas in urban areas, or even to install antennas at the roadside (small sales). As with 4G, operators will certainly be confronted with the public acceptance of these deployments,
  • The financing. The massive deployment of 5G will require heavy investments from mobile operators. Monetizing these investments with subscribers or finding sources of financing will be a real challenge in a context of high competitive intensity,
  • The indoor blanket. Targeting very high bandwidths involves the use of high frequencies and broadband signals, which make it even more difficult to penetrate inside buildings. Faced with the explosion of indoor data traffic, this issue should become a major concern for operators,
  • National regulation. Unlike previous frequency allocations (e. g. 4G), full coverage of the territory is not economically realistic due to the use of high frequencies. The regulatory authority will have to find the right balance between economic constraints and the requirement of territorial equality,
  • The physical limit of millimetre waves. Networks operating on 26 GHz frequencies will have very limited ranges that will be sensitive to obstacles. Finding uses that integrate these constraints will be a challenge.

The first steps of 5G in France

France at the heart of a coordinated European approach

France's digital strategy is part of a coordinated European approach (Europe 2020 Strategy). In September 2016, the European Commission announced a first action plan for 5G. In addition to the issues related to frequency harmonisation and allocation, the Commission encouraged experimentation with new uses of 5G.

In July 2017, at the informal European Council in Tallinn, Member States committed themselves to positioning Europe as a leader in 5G. Policies favourable to its development are being put in place.

The 2018 European Code for Electronic Communications has also created regulatory conditions for the deployment of these new networks. The Council, Parliament and the European Commission have thus reached agreement on new spectrum management rules, in particular on a minimum duration of authorisations, as well as on a common date for the allocation of authorisations in the 5G bands at 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz: 31 December 2020.

Infographie: Le marché prometteur de la 5G | Statista

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France's objectives

On 16 July 2018, the Government and Arcep published a 5G roadmap that is part of the European agenda and outlines a national ambition to boost competitiveness and innovation in many economic sectors through the introduction of 5G.

The main objectives of this roadmap are to host the first global applications of 5G in industrial fields (e.g. transport, energy, agriculture, etc.) with the launch of several 5G pilots.

In the fall of 2019, ARCEP launched the process of allocating frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band for the first commercial deployment of 5G in at least one major city by the end of 2020, and 5G coverage of the main transport axes by 2025.

Frequencies already available for 5G

Two pioneering frequency bands for 5G were identified by the European Union as early as 2017, and their conditions of use have been harmonised for the entire European continent.

5G technology is also being standardized in international forums. International standardisation work is expected to be completed and the 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands to be made available in Europe in a coordinated manner by 2020. Test initiatives are already underway and are expected to increase in the meantime.

In January 2018, Arcep opened a "5G pilot" window in order to allocate frequency bands to interested stakeholders to test the full-scale deployment of 5G pilots (e.g. ports, hospitals, connected roads, etc.) and to develop tomorrow's economic models. Beyond the simple technical validation framework for network equipment, these experiments make it possible to test the first concrete cases of use of 5G.

Arcep has thus identified several metropolitan areas and agglomerations with 3.5 GHz frequency availability and likely to carry out initial experiments: Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, Le Havre, Saint-Étienne, Douai, Montpellier and Grenoble. Without limiting itself to this list, Arcep examines all requests in the 3.5 GHz and 26.

Optical fiber and 5G

Finally, the deployment of 5G requires a very extensive fibre optic network to connect 5G antennas and guarantee high data rates. The France Très Haut Débit (THD) Plan, launched in 2013 to bring THD to everyone by 2022, is largely based on the sustained deployment of fibre optic networks. The optical fibre network will therefore cover most of France, which will prepare the arrival of 5G.

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Contact Franck Abihssira

A question about 5G ? Need to remove doubts in view of a future project? Send an email to Franck Abihssira, Tactis Associate Director.

Tactis - Franck Abihssira

Franck Abihssira

Associate Director Tactis
30 years' experience in the telecom, Internet and media sectors in management positions (TF1, TPS Bouygues Télécom), pioneer of triple play offers in France. At Tactis, he supports M&A operations, strategic missions and innovation management, including in particular the introduction of 5G.  
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