What is 5G NR? A Beginner’s Guide to Learning 5G NR and Its Benefits

Picture of John Gieske

John Gieske

Principal Engineer - LTE / 5G
What is 5G NR 

Global communication has got a huge upgrade with the advent of 5G NR or fifth-generation New Radio. But what is 5G NR? It refers to a radio access technology (RAT) that the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) developed for the 5G mobile network.

5G New Radio is the new air interface of 5G. This 5G network specification describes how a 5G User Equipment (UE) or any relevant products can transmit data with NR infrastructure.

The development of 5G NR started in 2015, and the world saw the first specification by the end of 2017. Eventually, MNOs deployed this network technology in 2019. Also, smartphone manufacturers are still producing devices with 5G NR support.

Statistics shows, that around 45% of all US mobile connections used 5G technology in 2023, which was just 15% in 2021. So, it is evident that 5G NR has a great impact on the network communication sector. In this blog, we will thoroughly provide insights on 5G NR and its benefits.

The people in the 3GPP project designed 5G NR to be the global standard for the air interface of 5G networks. It is built upon the technology used in 4G LTE networks. But, users can experience its improvement in speed, responsiveness, and efficiency.

5G New Radio uses higher frequency bands to achieve much faster data rates and lower latency than 4G. So users can get quicker downloads and uploads and near-real-time responsiveness for applications. Additionally, it can support fiber-equivalent bandwidth transmission that enables data-hungry applications – be it streaming or gaming.

What Are the Key Features of 5G NR?

By 2025, 5G networks are likely to cover one-third of the world’s population. So, the deployment of 5G NR will spread worldwide. Well, this technology has some key characteristics that may make your concept clear as to why 5G NR will be everywhere.
Key Features of 5G NR

Global Standard

5G New Radio ensures a unified and compatible experience across different 5G networks worldwide.

Advanced Network Architecture

5G NR features a service-based architecture with cloud-native and virtualized network functions. This architecture supports advanced features like network slicing and edge computing. So, benefactors get customized services and overall network performance. 

Enhanced Capabilities

Compared to 4G LTE, 5G NR offers significantly faster data speeds, lower latency (response time), and improved network capacity to handle more devices.

Flexible Carrier Spacing

The 5G New Radio (NR) standard uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) for both uplink and downlink, with flexible carrier spacing options. It includes 15 kHz, 30 kHz, 60 kHz, 120 kHz, 240 kHz, and 480 kHz, supporting up to 3300 subcarriers.

Scalable Numerology

5G NR allows the system to adapt to various frequency bands and deployment scenarios. This feature enhances NR’s flexibility and efficiency.

Supported Modulation Schemes

According to a study, 5G NR supports multiple modulation schemes. It includes Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (QPSK), 16-Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (16-QAM), 64-QAM, and 256-QAM. Hence, due to this compatibility, 5G NR enables high data rates and efficient spectrum usage.

Ultra-Lean Design

The ultra-lean 5G NR physical layer minimizes the amount of always-on signaling. It improves energy efficiency and reduces interference. 

Beam-Centric Design

Besides being ultra-lean, 5G NR employs a beam-centric design. It focuses on using beamforming techniques to enhance signal quality and coverage, particularly in high-frequency bands.

Frequency Bands

5G NR can operate across a wider range of frequencies. It includes low-band (better coverage), mid-band (balance between speed and coverage), and high-band (superior speed for shorter distances).

Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS)

DSS technology enables the simultaneous use of the same frequency bands by both 4G LTE and 5G NR. It facilitates a smooth and cost-effective transition to 5G. Operators can maximize the use of their existing spectrum resources for DSS. 

How does 5G NR Work?

5G NR builds upon the foundation of 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) technology. But, it introduces some key improvements to achieve faster speeds, lower latency, and better efficiency. 

OFDM Optimization

5G NR uses Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM) for both uplink and downlink transmission. It is the same technology used in 4G/LTE networks. Thus, it also uses new features like QAM schemes (already talked about) to provide better network efficiency.

The idea behind OFDM is to sum multiple sine waves with frequencies of k⋅Δf and a fixed duration of τ =1/Δf. Let me explain it a bit more.

Each windowed sine wave communicates with a sine wave centered at k⋅Δf, with null points at k ⋅Δf in the frequency domain, where k ≠k. So, every two sinc waves are orthogonal in the frequency domain. They avoid inter-carrier interface (ICI).

Research shows techniques like filtering and windowing are used to improve spectral efficiency and reduce interference. For example, Filtered-OFDM (F-OFDM) and Windowed-OFDM (W-OFDM) can solve issues like high Peak-to-Average Power Ratio (PAPR) and to improve the overall performance of the system.

New Higher Radio Spectrum Bands

5G New Radio operates on multiple frequency bands. Consequently, these bands are categorized into two main frequency ranges:

Frequency Range 1 (FR1)

FR1 includes sub-6 GHz bands. Previous standards traditionally use these but have been extended to cover new spectrum offerings from 410 MHz to 7125 MHz. Plus, these bands offer a balance between coverage and capacity.

Frequency Range 2 (FR2)

FR2 incorporates millimeter wave (mmWave) bands, ranging from 24 GHz to 100 GHz. These higher frequency bands provide extremely high data rates and capacity. However, these bands have limited range and penetration capabilities.

Beamforming

Beamforming is a critical technology in 5G NR. It leverages both digital and analog methods besides massive MIMO technology. Altogether, beamforming can enhance signal quality and coverage in high-frequency bands.

Beam-Centric Design

5G NR employs a beam-centric design, which uses beamforming techniques to direct signals towards specific users.

Massive MIMO

Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) technology is used to support beamforming. It involves using many antennas to create multiple beams. These antennas can be dynamically adjusted to optimize coverage and capacity.

Advanced Beamforming Techniques

Techniques such as hybrid beamforming and coordinated beamforming are used to enhance performance further. Hybrid beamforming combines analog and digital beamforming to improve efficiency. Similarly, coordinated beamforming involves multiple base stations working together to optimize signal delivery. 

Small Cell Coordination

5G networks consist of different equipment, including small cells (like our NanoLink). Factors like power levels, frequency bands, backhaul connectivity, and coordination with macrocells should be considered during the deployments of small cells.

Deployment

Small cells are deployed to provide localized coverage and increase network capacity. They are particularly useful in areas with high user density, such as city centers and stadiums.

Coordination Methods

Techniques like Coordinated Multi-Point (CoMP) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) are used to manage small cell networks.

CoMP involves multiple base stations coordinating their transmissions to reduce interference and improve performance. Alternatively, NFV allows network functions to be deployed as software on standardized hardware, enhancing flexibility and scalability.

Interference Management

Effective interference management is essential in small cell networks. Interference coordination and power control are used to minimize interference between small cells.

What Are the Benefits of 5G NR?

Moving forward to 5G New Radio (NR) can be a beneficial decision rather than sticking to previous generations of network technology like 4G LTE. You can experience many benefits from 5G NR deployment.
Benefits of 5G NR

Higher Data Rates and Speed

Compared to earlier generations, 5G NR offers notably higher data rates. Theoretically, it can reach up to 20 Gbps, which is a substantial improvement over 1 Gbps of 4G LTE (almost 20x).

Lower Latency

Higher latency can hamper the precision of transmitting any data. However, 5G New Radio offers lower latency, like one millisecond or 1 ms (above 30ms for 4G). It is better for real-time applications in communication, like autonomous driving and remote surgery.

Increased Capacity and Network Efficiency

You can connect more devices simultaneously at the same quality performance with 5G NR. It supports the growing number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications. 

Flexible Spectrum Utilization

As I said, 5G NR operates across various frequency bands: low, mid, and high. This flexibility allows for a mix of coverage and capacity. For instance, mmWave offers extremely high data rates but a limited range. Similarly, low band frequencies are suitable for broader coverage.

Enhanced Modulation and Numerology

5G New Radio employs OFDM with flexible carrier spacing options (15-480 kHz). It supports advanced modulation schemes like 256 QAM for higher data rates and efficient spectrum usage.

Improved Energy Efficiency

5G NR physical layer minimizes always-on signaling for its ultra-lean design. It is beneficial for saving energy, particularly for battery-powered devices.

What Are the Use Cases of 5G NR?

5G New Radio supports numerous applications across various sectors. It’s because it features high data rates, low latency, and massive connectivity. Among those applications, these are the most common 5G NR use cases:
Use Cases of 5G NR

Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (URLLC)

URLLC works with applications that need extremely low latency and high reliability. So, 5G NR in URLLC is important for mission-critical sectors like healthcare, cyber security, etc.
Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (URLLC)

Autonomous Driving

5G NR enables Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communication, which is essential for autonomous driving. It supports real-time data exchange between vehicles and infrastructure, enhancing safety and efficiency.

Remote Surgery

In healthcare, URLLC can facilitate remote surgery by providing the necessary low latency and high reliability for real-time control and feedback. So, surgeons can operate from remote locations with precision. In this way, patients can get their treatment and access to specialized medical expertise without traveling.

Industrial Automation

Businesses can automate their process by enabling real-time control and monitoring of machinery for URLLC. So, they can increase efficiency, reduce downtime, and enhance safety in business environments.

Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC)

mMTC can connect many devices, which makes it ideal for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. It provides connectivity to the devices that generate small amounts of data but needs a reliable and scalable communication.
Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC)

Smart Cities

Smart lighting, waste management, and traffic monitoring are some smart city applications of 5G NR. Cities can optimize resource usage, reduce costs, and improve the quality of life for citizens.

Agriculture

mMTC can enable precision farming by connecting various sensors and devices to monitor soil conditions, weather, and crop health. Farmers can use this data to optimize irrigation, fertilization, and pest control. As a result, 5G NR can help to increase crop yields and reduce environmental impact.

Healthcare Wearables

Medical professionals can use wearable devices with mMTC to monitor health parameters. They can measure patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels. 5G NR helps to get real-time data using mMTC communication.

Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB)

eMBB provides high data rates and improved capacity to support applications. Usually, these use cases require large amounts of data and high-quality connectivity.
Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB)

HD Video Streaming

If you love video streaming with minimal buffering and latency, 5G NR can be your companion. It is beneficial for purposes like live sports broadcasting, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR). 

Gaming

Online gamers can gain a better gaming experience with reduced lag with 5G NR as it offers lower latency and higher data rates. They can play games with high-resolution graphics, even on their mobile devices.

High-Speed Internet Access

Traditional broadband infrastructure may fail in such areas where eMBB can provide high-speed internet access. It may enable remote work, education, and telehealth. 

5G NR vs. 4G LTE: How does 5G NR differ from 4G LTE?

5G New Radio (NR) and 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) represent successive generations of mobile network technology.

Here’s a detailed comparison highlighting the key differences between 5G NR and 4G LTE:

Frequently Asked Questions

NR in 5G NR stands for New Radio. It signifies that 5G NR is an entirely new radio access technology designed specifically for 5G networks.

5G NR is a radio access technology that defines how data is transmitted over the interface in a 5G network. Alternatively, 5G Standalone or SA is a network architecture where 5G NR operates independently with its own core network. 

5G NR is better for its faster data rates (up to 20 Gbps), lower latency (1ms), greater network capacity (1M devices), and better efficiency than 4G. 

Conclusion – Nybsys 5G New Radio for Better Telecommunication 

What is 5G NR or New Radio? In short, it’s the new interface of 5G. It is an identical leap in data speeds, latency, and network capacity to the previous generation’s network. It offers better output than 4G LTE but reduces energy consumption.

5G NR surpasses 4G LTE in every aspect. For instance, its peak data rate is around 20 Gbps, which is only 1 Gbps for 4G. Then again, it works with advanced technologies like higher-order QAM, beamforming, and a wider range of frequency bands.
If you need 5G NR, you can contact us. Nybsys is always ready to set up a network for you. 

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