4.5 - Vodafone
Created on January 18, 2024
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Spectrum is like a road. It connects two places and the data that we transport between them is the cars; the more spectrum you have, the wider your road is, meaning more data, or cars, can pass through. For 2G and 3G, they have a single input, single output way of transmitting data, which is basically like having one lane of traffic (SISO). 4G uses MIMO, which is multiple input, multiple output. It’s like having two roads side by side. Whereas 5G runs on massive MIMO. Essentially, it’s like opening up new lanes on a motorway. Sixty-four lanes, to be precise. And it gets better. Massive MIMO technology also steers multiple lanes of traffic to multiple users. This is known as Beamforming.
Frequency refers to the radio frequencies used for wireless communication between mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets) and the network infrastructure (base stations, cell towers). The predominant spectrum used for mobile is 300Mhz to 5Ghz The radio spectrum is divided into frequency bands, which are then allocated to certain services. For example, 87MHz to 107Mhz is used to Broadcast FM Radio in the UK.Depending on your location in the UK, Radio 1 is found between 97.6MHz - 99.8MHz. Higher Frequency gives you more capacity but a lower range. Lower Frequency gives you more range, but lower capacity.
Imagine you have cars on a road and each car represents a (’packet’) amount of data. Then, each lane represents the amount of data (number of ‘packets’) that can be handled at any one time. As long as there are not too many cars on that road, traffic flows steadily. Even when more cars appear on the road, traffic (or data packets) still flows well. But, like traffic during rush hour, eventually it will reach a limit and things may be a little slower to respond. Traffic (such as data) will still move but, the network will have a limit. Users are more likely to see this impact on their home broadband. This is one of the reasons that customers need to choose the right package for their needs.Bandwidth is measured in bits per second, and most internet connections have a bandwidth on the scale of megabits per second. Every Internet connection has a specified maximum bandwidth. If we put this into video streaming terms: The minimum required speed for streaming Netflix is 3Mbps for SD quality (5Mbps in HD and 25Mbps for 4k). Amazon Prime video need less than 1Mbps (900 Kbps) to stream in standard definition (3.5Mbps in HD).
Latency Another key term you will hear when listening to people talk about networks and performance is latency. This simply is how fast, in milliseconds, we can send data down our Networks. Latency is very important for future use cases for 5G, such as autonomous cars and gaming, as these rely on super-fast reactions.