5G network architecture illustrating 5G and 4G working together, with central and local servers providing faster content to users and low latency applications.
A mobile network has two main components, the ‘Radio Access Network’ and the ‘Core Network’.
The Radio Access Network - consists of various types of facilities including small cells, towers, masts and dedicated in-building and home systems that connect mobile users and wireless devices to the main core network.
Small cells will be a major feature of 5G networks particularly at the new millimetre wave (mmWave) frequencies where the connection range is very short. To provide a continuous connection, small cells will be distributed in clusters depending on where users require connection which will complement the macro network that provides wide-area coverage.
5G Macro Cells will use MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antennas that have multiple elements or connections to send and receive more data simultaneously. The benefit to users is that more people can simultaneously connect to the network and maintain high throughput. Where MIMO antennas use very large numbers of antenna elements they are often referred to as ‘massive MIMO’, however, the physical size is similar to existing 3G and 4G base station antennas.
The Core Network - is the mobile exchange and data network that manages all of the mobile voice, data and internet connections. For 5G, the ‘core network’ is being redesigned to better integrate with the internet and cloud based services and also includes distributed servers across the network improving response times (reducing latency).
Many of the advanced features of 5G including network function virtualization and network slicing for different applications and services, will be managed in the core. The following illustration shows examples of local cloud servers providing faster content to users (movie streaming) and low latency applications for vehicle collision avoidance systems.