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What is
5G Network
Architecture?

When we consider the term “architecture,” we usually think of buildings. But this term can also apply to the way a network is designed. To understand 5G architecture is to understand how it is different from previous cellular network generations. Read on to find out how 5G network architecture works and why it matters for the future of technology.

What is 5G architecture?

5G network architecture includes both the physical construction of the 5G-specific hardware and infrastructure as well as the engineering design that determines how the network transmits data.

What some may consider “5G towers” are in fact 5G small cells, or nodes. These are critical parts of the network architecture for Verizon as they help to enhance 4G LTE coverage and capacity while deploying the 5G Ultra Wideband Network. Small cells are wireless transmitters and receivers for providing network coverage to smaller areas. High-power “macro” towers help keep network signal strong across large distances, like for 4G and earlier, and small cells help deploy the high frequency millimeter waves of 5G to more densely populated areas like cities.

Another aspect of 5G architecture is the radio access network and 5G new radio. The radio access network (RAN) makes it possible for end-user devices that are enabled to work on publicly licensed spectrum to communicate over wireless channels with other end devices or networks. The RAN is typically comprised of antenna towers that are connected via fiber to base stations equipped with radio as well as baseband functional elements that can be integrated into a single unit or separated into individual units. 5G RAN supports multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas, wide spectrum bandwidths (see: Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network), multi-band carrier aggregation and more.

5G NR is the new globally specified radio access technology from 3GPP. 5G NR uses two frequency ranges: frequency range 1 (FR1), which includes 6 GHz frequency bands and below, and frequency range 2 (FR2), which includes the millimeter wavelength range. The millimeter wavelength range will help enable 5G Ultra Wideband.

It is not possible to achieve the massive capacity, throughput, and other performance gains that 5G supports without having an equally robust and pervasive fiber infrastructure.  Massive wireless “highways” require massive wired, fiber “highways”.  The fiber deployments must coincide with the high density deployments of 5G UWB small cells.  Fiber carries massive amounts of data, is reliable, and has a long roadmap ahead as far as technical advancements.  In short, a 5G network is only as good as the network it runs on.

5G Architecture and Network Security

5G will offer new opportunities to support network security through a few different routes. From Mobile Edge Computing to sophisticated measures for security and privacy, Verizon’s 5G network architecture offers the potential for creating even stronger, secure enclaves of the network.

Learn more about how 5G works and why 5G is important with great information from Verizon.