5G: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

By Roger Boivin

The Good 5G will enable things like the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality, and a lot of other really cool technologies.  


The ITU graphic above graphically explains the expected usage of 5G including IoT and video. The excitement around this 5G technology pervades the enterprise, with many expecting an imminent rollout of the new wave technology. 

According to a ZDNet newsletter, 5G allows for three service grades that may meet the special requirements of their customers’ business models: 


  • Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) for more densely populated metropolitan centers with downlink speeds approaching 1 Gbps indoors, and 300 Mbps outdoors. It would accomplish this through the installation of extremely high-frequency millimeter-wave (mmWave) antennas throughout the landscape — on lampposts, the sides of buildings, the branches of trees, existing electrical towers, and in one novel use case proposed by AT&T, the tops of city busses. 


  • Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC) [PDF] enables M2M and IoT applications without imposing burdens on the other classes of service. MMTC would implement a compartmentalized service tier for devices needing downlink bandwidth as low as 100 Kbps but with latency kept low at around 10ms.


  • Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC) would address critical needs communications where bandwidth is not quite as important as speed — specifically, an end-to-end latency of 1ms or less. This would be the tier that addresses the autonomous vehicle category, where decision time for reaction to a possible accident is almost non-existent. 


ZDNet concludes that the biggest impact will be IoT, edge computing and analytics infrastructure with minimal latency. 5G, expects to be about 10 gigabits per second throughput, 10x battery life, 1000 times more data volumes in the networks. It’s a quantum leap compared to 4G.”



The Bad   


“The biggest hurdles to 5G are logistical, regulatory and infrastructure. Each federal, state and local community may have unique requirements in its deployment of 5G. All carriers and equipment manufacturers will need to develop their own path to 5G deployment that meets the regulatory requirements including cybersecurity.


5G implementation also requires hundreds of thousands of small cells to be installed across the country, which calls for large bands of spectrum that aren’t yet available. Small cell infrastructure by one estimate, would be four hundred times more towers than are currently deployed and would become as common a feature in urban areas as lampposts.

The Ugly



In 5G, the “air latency” is now 8–12 milliseconds. The latency to the server must be added to the “air latency”. Verizon reports the latency on its 5G early deployment is 30 ms, Edge Servers close to the towers can reduce latency to 10–20 ms; 1–4 ms will be extremely rare for years outside the lab. Autonomous driving systems should be able to process current traffic conditions within a latency of 100 ms at a frequency of at least once every 100 ms requiring edge computing and network slicing.



5G in the +24 GHz range are not capable of traveling large distances (over a few hundred meters), Also, these higher frequency 5G signals cannot penetrate solid objects easily, such as cars, trees, and walls, because of the nature of these higher frequency electromagnetic waves.



5G enables the movement and access of vastly higher quantities of data, and thus broadens attack surfaces”. Massive DDoS attacks are foreseen after 5G deployment. IoT Analytics estimated an increase in the number of IoT devices, enabled by 5G technology, from 7 billion in 2018 to 21.5 billion by 2025. This can raise the attack surface for these devices to a substantial scale, and the capacity for DDoS attacks, cryptojacking, and other cyberattacks could increase proportionally. 


Network Visibility

While there have been many discussions around 5G capital investments on edge equipment and core network upgrades, so far there has been little focus on upgrading and maintaining tools and probes that will monitor the traffic. 


Service providers need visibility solutions to mitigate both CAPEX and OPEX related costs of monitoring 5G services. You can avoid, or at least contain, the prohibitive costs of traditional network visibility tools caused by 5G’s increased core data volume, velocity and number of devices. This can be done by placing a non-invasive smart probe at the mobile edge which creates metadata for each flow and forwards it to a streaming analytics platform in real-time. This technology produces key metrics for each user/device and for applications at the mobile edge. This allows a holistic view for network operators and enterprises in order to ensure critical latency tolerances and Quality of Experience metrics are met as well as determining any abnormal network behavior. 


Contact Cirries at [email protected] for more details on 5G network visibility, monitoring, and analytics solutions.