5G is the latest generation of wireless mobile network, designed to improve the quality of connectivity and expand the armoury of applications and devices that are available to us.
The evolution of 5G has enabled more of us to stay connected with faster speeds and less time to build on networks. But 5G is not only revolutionising how we use the internet, it is also playing an important role in our daily lives.
Take education as an example, where a superior network is allowing for more immersive classroom experiences to cater for every variety of student.
Or in managing our cities, where 5G is driving efficiencies by optimising traffic light control and public transport systems in real-time.
Several Irish companies that are supported by Enterprise Ireland, such as Taoglas, Benetel, Druid Software and Alpha Wireless, are playing important roles in enabling the proliferation of global 5G and its adoption.
This begins with the antennas that anchor the 5G network, which are responsible for transmitting and receiving high-frequency signals that make fast and reliable coverage possible.
In telemedicine, 5G antennas are powering secure, instantaneous transmission of data-rich tasks such as processing X-rays and MRIs.
This can greatly benefit patients, particularly in rural areas where access to specialised medical care may be limited.
When it comes to 5G, however, the antenna infrastructure required for a robust network means greater density of units to ensure coverage.
Alpha Wireless is working through this challenge by reimagining antenna design to solve both functional and aesthetic shortcomings. This Irish company is creating bespoke antennas which can be concealed in street works, such as lighting poles and recycling bins, to improve the aesthetic and utility of 5G installations for the community.
The 5G network core is another vital component. It is the backbone supporting new 5G technology and applications, routing data, and keeping things connected behind the scenes.
The 5G core transmits large volumes of data in real-time, which means a seamless service that can power augmented and virtual reality consumer applications.
For example, music fans might soon be able to enjoy an immersive virtual experience of their favourite artist without having to leave home.
The Raemis platform from Druid Software acts as a central control and management element in 5G enterprise networks.
Think of it as the coaching staff of a team, managing the players who will execute the gameplan. Druid Software is working with major multinationals like Intel and VMware to deliver it, and it is seen as one of the most adaptable and interoperable core platforms.
Also topical in 5G has been the proposed benefit of O-RAN (open Radio Access Networks). It is a modern wireless communication network based on open interfaces and standards, allowing for the integration of components, like radio units, from different vendors.
The traditional network contrasts with this, often closed and victim to mandatory hardware and software manufacturers.
With O-RAN, operators can gain greater flexibility in the components they use to build and maintain their networks, driving costs down and improving performance. This should ultimately mean a more reliable experience for the end-user.
Irish company Benetel makes market-leading 5G radio units with O-RAN technology. The applications vary from bringing wireless broadband connectivity to rural areas, to controlling traffic flows in smart cities. Benetel works with leading partners like the O-RAN Alliance and the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance (OSA).
5G is also catalysing the development of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which collect and exchange data using the internet. The fast speed, low latency and high-capacity connectivity offered by 5G allows for real-time communication, better decision-making, and increased reliability, improving connectivity issues and performance in IoT.
In agriculture, for example, farmers are using sensors and IoT devices to collect expedited data on soil moisture and crop health to optimise irrigation and fertilisation.
The engineering team at Taoglas is leading the charge in antenna and IoT component design that supports 5G cellular. They are innovating in smart meter monitoring, pioneering European Space Agency projects, and modernising public safety fleets for the garda.
There are world-leading 5G technology enablers coming out of Ireland. To learn more about how they might help you or your company to stay connected, please reach out to a member of the Enterprise Ireland team for more information.
Dáire Boylan is Telco & IoT client partner manager in San Francisco