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5G Infrastructure: All You Need to Know To Build a 5G LAN

What Is 5G Infrastructure?

5G infrastructure consists of a network of small-cell and macrocell base stations required for fifth-generation cellular networks.

Why Does 5G Need New Infrastructure?

To achieve ubiquitous 5G, mobile operators must make infrastructure changes to eliminate bottlenecks and ensure that users can take full advantage of the performance benefits 5G offers. Similar to how users will need to upgrade their phones to a 5G chipset, mobile operators will need to upgrade their network to accommodate the next generation of cellular technology.

A combination of growing demand and increased standards means carriers must improve their infrastructure to accommodate a 5G future. 5G is built off the core principles of 4G, meaning cellular networks don’t have to completely start from scratch when upgrading their infrastructure. This allows network operators to pace their investment by slowly upgrading their capacity, purchasing additional spectrum, and refarming radio frequencies.

Not all infrastructure upgrades require new hardware or tower climbers. Nokia leveraged a software update to upgrade five million tower radios from 4G to 5G without physically replacing any hardware. This is known as non-standalone architecture (NSA), where the 5G service is dependent on the 4G mobile core. Users benefit from the performance of 5G but are limited to the services supported by 4G.

Carriers can leverage dynamic spectrum sharing and spectrum refarming to upgrade 4G towers in an NSA model. DSS allows customers to use two radio frequencies (low-band 5G and 4G) at once to outperform traditional 4G. This strategy has proven to be both cost-effective and highly valuable to users on the network.

Inevitably, the demand for 5G will require new hardware such as macrosites and other small cells to provide more capacity and additional coverage. These upgrades will vary depending on location and the demand in the area. While 5G services debuted in early 2019, there’s still a lot of work to improve the performance and accessibility of 5G networks across the country.

Why Is 5G So Different?

5G is more than just a speed upgrade; it will open the door for entirely new technologies and service offerings. For example, 5G offers ultra-low-latency connections that support autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and Internet of Things sensors that power smart cities.

5G provides a highly reliable form of wireless connectivity for businesses that promises both speed and capacity. For instance, the manufacturing industry requires strict uptimes and high-performance standards that leave factories relying on an expensive and complex web of ethernet cables and fiber backhauls.

With private 5G, enterprises don’t need a wired connection for their most mission-critical systems anymore. Administrators can customize 5G infrastructure to accommodate challenging work environments where other wireless technologies struggle. Businesses can configure access points, small cells, and long-range antennas to suit their 5G needs in the same way IT staff design Wi-Fi networks.

What Are The Components Of 5G Infrastructure?

Small Cells

Small cells are key for providing high-band 5G to dense urban environments and indoor areas. Not all signals are created equal. For example, low-band 5G is designed to travel long distances but not be as fast, while high-band signals provide better performance with less coverage. Small cells can rebroadcast mid-band signals as high band to provide the best possible service in a given area.


Macrocells offer powerful transmissions that provide coverage across thousands of square kilometers. Many commercial carriers use these cells atop large towers to provide different levels of 5G service across an area.

5G Mobile Core Network

The mobile core is responsible for routing traffic and providing users with the cellular services they sign up for. The core performs numerous jobs, such as handling authentication services, processing subscriber information, and carrying out traffic routing functions.

A big change in the new mobile 5G core is the addition of network slicing. Network slicing allows more control over how cellular resources are used. This allows for more efficient routing and the management of multiple networks within one slice. Enterprises use network slicing to create application-specific service level agreements.

For example, hospitals can create a network slice for their ICU monitors to ensure those sensors always meet certain latency and throughput requirements. Network slicing provides significantly more control and visibility over network resources than previously possible with 4G.

Radio Access Network

Radio access networks allow cellular signals to travel from one side of the country to the next. Over the years different types of RANs have been developed to accommodate new cellular generations. Today a major obstacle for wide-spread 5G is the use of vendor-specific hardware in RANs.

This makes it difficult and expensive to design new RANs that work seamlessly with existing networks. The O-RAN Alliance is working to solve these challenges by promoting new standards that use open-source software and generic hardware.

Can I Own My Own 5G Infrastructure?

Arguably one of the most significant benefits of 5G is the ability for businesses to own their infrastructure. Thanks to advancements in cellular hardware and software, companies can design, build, and manage their own 5G networks without hiring cellular experts or relying on commercial carriers.

By obtaining licensing on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum, enterprises can design cellular networks that cover specific areas and meet their businesses’ particular demands and performance requirements. The same infrastructure components that major carriers use to provide cellular services are now available as plug-and-play hardware that IT staff can easily configure.

Private 5G is a growing trend among enterprises, hospitals, and manufacturers as this model provides better scalability, more customization, and cost savings over the long term.

The Celona Solution

Celona partners with enterprise organizations to deploy its turnkey 5G LAN solution in order to tackle the latest group digital initiatives.

Plug-and-play devices can be quickly deployed throughout the facility, while proactive monitoring ensures network service-level agreements, such as throughput and latency requirements, are consistently being met.

Celona uses edgeless enterprise architecture and cloud-based artificial intelligence to make implementing private mobile networks an out-of-box experience. Onboarding can be done alongside existing wireless and IT infrastructure without interrupting business operations.

If you’re building your own mobile network, we can help. Check out our network planner to see what the size of your Celona network would look like , or test-drive the Celona solution via product demonstrations and a free trial.

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