If you are old enough to have experienced landline telephony, you know those phone jacks on the wall, you have probably experienced cordless phones. So what does this technology have to do with 5G? In recent years, 5G has been complemented by the new standard DECT NR+ 5G, a standard that has its roots in DECT telephony.
The ingenious new standard
The idea of being able to develop a new 5G standard in this way is in many ways ingenious. By far the biggest challenge new standards face is spectrum scarcity. Spectrum takes 10s of years to free up and is decided by the UN body International Telecommunication Union’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R). So imagine what a bonus to run on a spectrum that is ready for a global market, that is not used by so many and that is a strong candidate to be filled with new technologies.
Even if you and I haven’t held a DECT phone for many years, there is a group that still stands behind DECT technology and manages its interests, the DECT Forum it’s called. And to sum up, what they have managed to push through as a new standard, DECT NR+ 5G is a technology that can safely transmit data over shorter distances in a free frequency band. The technology is also the first non-cellular 5G technology to be adopted.
DECT NR+ 5G is characterized by the fact that it is a technology that does not need any infrastructure, it is instead built to be decentralized. Based on MESH technology, NR+ will operate autonomously and hopes to respond to the need for massive IoT networks for enterprises. NR+ aims to be both a democratized 5G standard and one that has a low investment cost and low carbon footprint.
DECT NR+ 5G Network topology
DECT NR+ 5G can be deployed in both mesh-type and tail-type networks. Devices can be dynamically associated with each other, they can dynamically change their role to be a routing device and they can create both very dense and large networks all by themselves.
You got it right, the technology is completely “non-cellular” and does not require any mobile networks, existing infrastructure such as base stations, or cell towers, to work. The technology is for building private radio networks on a free channel. Each node can be an access point connected to the internet (these are called “sink nodes”). The common nodes are called “leaf nodes”.
Each node can also be a relay node that sends traffic from a leaf node through as many router relay nodes as needed to reach the sink node. All of this happens automatically in the network. This is a fully self-organizing and self-healing network with good reliability. The idea is that no single node will back up the network if it fails, as traffic is automatically redirected.
For what applications?
To first see where DECT NR+ 5G fits in, let’s look at the so-called 5G triangle, which consists of three key components:
High bandwidth: Extreme Mobile Broadband xMBB
Low latency: ultra-reliable, low-latency communications (uRLLC)
Large number of connections: Massive Machine-Type Communication (mMTC).
DECT NR+ 5G aims to capture industrial applications that require either high connectivity or low latency, or a combination of both. The DECT Forum believes that it covers a gap here, today there is no reliable and affordable solution for mMTC and none covers both mMTC and URLLC, although there is a strong need for this combination. Certainly, there are non 5G technologies that aspire to mMTC, such as LoRaWAN or the little-known Sigfox, but these do not offer reliable availability and they certainly do not offer low latency.
For which band?
DECT NR+ 5G aspires to be future-proof and supports channel widths from 1.728 MHz up to 220 MHz, which should cover the market’s current and future data rate and latency needs. If you are a little familiar with the old DECT technology, you will know that the 1.9 GHz band was used, while the NR+ standard covers 17 bands in the frequency band up to 6 GHz. The 19, GHz band gives you access to a dedicated global frequency band and a radio environment with limited interference from other users and excellent possibilities to manage this possible interference.