This technology should replace the current 4G by 2023. Much more than an improvement of the network, it is supposed to allow a considerable technological leap and is already the subject of a bitter war between China and the United States.

The promise is enticing: more speed, to connect more devices intended to simplify our lives. Just that. The advent of 5G must lead to a technological leap, even a breakthrough, according to the Electronic Communications and Postal Regulatory Authority (Arcep).


Some experts in the new mobile technologies sector go even further by predicting the “the most important upheaval since electricity”. While France has just launched its 5G frequency allocation procedure on Monday, July 15, franceinfo is plugging into broadband and helping you to decipher this new technology that you will soon be able to ignore.

1What is 5G?

It is the fifth generation of mobile network (5G). For those who have forgotten the previous versions: the first generation, in 1986, made it possible to make calls, 2G to send SMS or MMS (at the beginning of the 1990s), 3G to surf the web via your phone (2004) and 4G (2011) to develop mobile internet more widely and with greater speed.

This time, 5G is ultra high speed. She must make it possible to reach the level of the fiber – up to 1 Gbps (gigabit per second) of speed in reception and up to 300 Mbps (megabit per second) in transmission -, by multiplying the data rate by 10 and dividing transmission times by 10 also.


Currently, the 4G network offers real speeds around 30 Mbps. Several real-world 5G tests have measured speeds ranging from 700 Mbps to several Gbps, according to tests. Concretely, a 30 GB film can be downloaded in twenty minutes, compared to 1h40 with 4G today, estimates Orange.

2How it works ?

When it comes to the telephone network, it’s all about frequency. 5G will use bands that already exist for previous generations, but also new frequencies that will make it possible to take full advantage of very high speed.

In detail, very high so-called “millimeter” frequencies, at 26 GHz, will be used. A first for general public networks. These are now reserved for the French army, the administration in charge of meteorology or the National Center for Space Studies. Arcep has launched public consultations with a view to their reallocation for the deployment of 5G, scheduled for the second half of 2019.


3Should we install new antennas?

Yes, but they will especially flourish in the city. The problem with these millimeter waves is that their propagation power is quite low. The higher the frequencies, the lower the signal range. Millimeter waves also have a reputation for not supporting rain and not going through walls. We must then expect to see blooming small antennas connected to a “mother antenna”, all over the street furniture, nested for example in bus shelters or streetlights.

5G will be based on a new generation of antennas, which direct signals to the devices that need them. Coupled with high frequency bands, the use of these antennas will greatly increase throughput.
5G will be based on a new generation of antennas, which direct signals to the devices that need them. Coupled with high frequency bands, the use of these antennas will greatly increase throughput. (ANFR)

To achieve very high speed on your mobile, 5G will also use smart antennas, called “MIMO”. While the old wifi networks or standard GSM networks use a single antenna at the level of the transmitter and the receiver, these use several, both for transmission and for reception. By multiplying these antennas, the throughput is thus increased.


This type of antenna allows the radio signal to be directed only to users when they need it. (beam tracking) instead of being emitted in all directions consistently. Result: the waves are no longer dispersed and the flow is increased.

4What is the interest of this new technology?

The main promise of 5G will be to offer ubiquitous connectivity, or “ultra connectivity”, according to the terms used by Arcep. It is the ability to remotely control billions of devices, machines and devices of all kinds and in all sectors of activity.

Examples of applications made possible with 5G. & Nbsp;
Examples of applications made possible with 5G. (EUROPEAN COMMISSION)

For the average user, 5G will offer more comfort on a daily basis. He may, for example, Download films in 4K or even 8K, but also play online without problem of latency (the transmission delay in computer communications). Demonstration with this concert performed while the musician and the singer are in two different rooms.


But in addition to smoother navigation, new offers will be offered to users, including the development augmented reality and virtual reality applications on smartphones. The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (South Korea) gave us a foretaste. The telecoms operator KT had thus equipped the ski slopes with a hundred cameras connected in 5G to allow spectators to follow the movements of the athletes from different angles.


As 5G will make it possible to transmit only where and when it is necessary, by adapting the transmission power to use, this should also allow the battery life of connected objects to be considerably extended.

5Is 5G just for entertainment then?

Not at all, quite the contrary. The end of latency is what was lacking until then for the development of autonomous cars, for example. Thanks to this technology, vehicles will be able to interact directly with each other or with street furniture. Manufacturers have already made good progress on the issue. Ford, BMW, Peugeot and DS Automobiles have notably joined forces with chipmaker Qualcomm and are stepping up demonstrations of rapid vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure data transfer. Ile-de-France has already allocated 100 million euros to become the world’s leading autonomous vehicle region. As of this year, dedicated lanes will be equipped with computer systems on the Ile-de-France highways.


5G will also allow the development of telesurgery. A doctor in Paris will thus be able to operate on a patient on the other side of the world, via a robot. According to South China Morning Post, a first remote operation on an animal was held on January 8 in China thanks to a communication established in 5G.

Latest breakthrough: The world’s first “telemonitored” surgery on a human being was performed by a Spanish doctor live from the main stage of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on February 27. During this operation, Doctor Antonio de Lacy provided real-time advice and technical assistance, via a 5G network broadcast, to a surgical team performing an operation on an intestinal tumor at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, ​​located 5 km away. of the.


Doctor Antonio de Lacy giving his instructions live during an operation performed 5 kilometers from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona (Spain). & Nbsp;
Doctor Antonio de Lacy giving his instructions live during an operation carried out 5 kilometers from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona (Spain). (PAU BARRENA / AFP)

What if chatting by phone or video became obsolete in favor of holograms? This is another of the promises of 5G. Operators KT (South Korea) and Verizon (United States) have already tested such a call successfully (link in English). Manufacturing production will undoubtedly also be upset with an increase in machines or connected objects, such as manufacturing robots or delivery drones.

Operators will have to adapt the network in real time to the needs of connected devices. “5G networks will have to adapt and reconfigure themselves, depending on the targeted use. A 5G network is in fact several specialized subnets that will have to coexist. This is the principle of ‘network slicing’., explains Sylvain Loizeau, from Arcep, interviewed by Le Figaro. To get there, there is still a long way to go and arbitrations will have to be made to give priority to certain uses, such as latency for autonomous cars or flows intended for medical operations.


6Am I going to have to change my phone?

Obviously, you will have to go upmarket. To receive 5G, you will need a new modem built into your smartphone capable of supporting the new frequencies. No worries, all manufacturers are already in line to offer their models, available from mid-2019. But, already, thethe first compatible phones make their appearance. In France, however, it is still unnecessary to acquire one for the moment, due to the delay in deploying network infrastructures.

7Who is at the forefront of this technology?

Without question, China and its telecoms giant Huawei. “They would have between 12 and 18 months in advance, according to franceinfo André Loesekrug-Pietri, founder of the investment fund A.CAPITAL and spokesperson for the Joint European Disruptive Initiative (Jedi). Huawei relies on China, a gigantic market, as well as in emerging countries like Africa, to achieve a scale effect, lower costs, and invest heavily in research and development. With more than thirty telecom operators fighting a price battle in Europe, we have a situation where price is a key element which can only disadvantage equipment suppliers like Ericsson or Nokia. “

Problem: Are Huawei’s highly strategic infrastructure secure? Many experts suspect them of being able to allow Chinese intelligence to spy on communications from countries that use them. Washington has already put pressure on its allies, especially Germany, to stop the negotiations with Huawei for the call for tenders to equip the country with 5G infrastructures, as reported by Wall Street Journal (in English). Although there is no evidence to support these fears at this time. Still, Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei, is a former Chinese military officer and his daughter, Wanzhou Meng, also the company’s chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada at the beginning of December on suspicion of having , via two subsidiaries, stole trade secrets from the US telecoms group T-Mobile. For André Loesekrug-Pietri, Europe now faces a dilemma.


5G will allow the emergence of new industrial sectors, such as the autonomous car or the factory of the future. If we do without Huawei, and we prioritize security, Europe will inevitably fall behind in these sectors, which are essential for our future growth.André Loesekrug-Pietrito franceinfo

“This is an unbearable dilemma resulting from a long lack of strategic vision, continues André Loesekrug-Pietri. And we risk having this same dilemma in many other industries, such as semiconductors, space, or molecular biology. “

What is certain according to this expert is that France must not make the same mistakes as when allocating 4G frequencies. In 2015, operators had spent hundreds of millions of euros for the benefit of the State to obtain frequencies, while these sums could have been spent on research.


8Is it dangerous for health?

The multiplication of antennas and frequencies used raises concerns about potential adverse health effects. “5G will increase exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields”, have already warned, in September 2017, more than 170 scientists in a moratorium. The effects are: a risk of cancer, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damage and the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders “, they alert.

Even before the launch of 5G, the question is already sensitive. Last April, Emmanuelle Anthoine, MP for Les Républicains de la Drôme, asked, in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Solidarity and Health, on the basis of the precautionary principle, to “commission independent and in-depth studies on the effects of 5G” and consider protective measures for sensitive populations “, referring to people claiming to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

In response, the ministry recalled that “the limit values ​​for exposure of the public to electromagnetic fields apply regardless of the technology (2G, 3G, 4G or 5G)”. The 5G networks that will be deployed by operators will therefore have to respect these limit values ​​just as much as the technologies used today.


9When will this technology land in France?

In France, the openings of 5G networks are planned for 2020. But this will initially only concern“at least one big city”, according to the government’s roadmap. The main transport axes will have to be connected by 2025, in accordance with European recommendations. For the moment, several sites are experimenting with 5G. It’s the case in Belfort, Bordeaux, Douai, Grenoble, Lannion, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Toulouse, Sophia Antipolis and in Ile-de-France, as detailed in Arcep. In Ouistreham (Calvados) for example,he objective is to establish a high-speed link between the Normandy coasts and two ships of the Brittany Ferries company which connect the ports of Ouistreham and Portsmouth (United Kingdom).

Ericsson Mobility analysts are already banking on development from 2021, mainly in Asia and the Pacific, then in North America, and finally in the rest of the world, including Western Europe.



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