5G Use Cases and System Concepts


​Mobile and wireless communication is increasingly becoming the primary way for humans and machines to access information and services.  Even right now you maybe reading this on your mobile, tablet or similar compatible wireless device :).

 In order to make this vision a reality, capabilities of 5G system must exhibit greater flexibility than previous generations, and involve farther-reaching integration including not only the traditional radio access networks, but also core networks, transport and application layers. 

This requires a new way of thinking in 5G wireless access, network architecture and applications.

  • ​The vision of 5G is to access information and sharing of data possible anywhere and anytime to anyone and anything. 
  • 5G expands the usage of human-centric communications to include both human-centric and machine-centric communications.
  • Above two factors will lead to socio-economic changes not yet imaginable, including improvements in productivity, sustainability, entertainment and well-being.

In this post, you will read needs of the end-users in terms of use cases and requirements, and an overview of 5G system concepts.

​The need for use cases and Requirements

Use case(s) are provided with respective solution and provide a vision as to what is possible.  

A collection of diverse set of use cases provide a set of challenging requirement that 5G systems have to fulfill.

We will discuss the use cases and technical solutions behind it to address those requirements later on. 

​Autonomous Vehicle Control

Autonomous vehicle is already a reality. The question is what enables autonomous vehicle ….. It’s autonomous vehicle control that enables autonomous driving to vehicles.

Autonomous vehicle control requires only the following communication infrastructure

  1. ​Vehicle to Vehicle 
  2. ​Vehicle to People
  3. ​Vehicle to sensors (which maybe installed on the roadside)

The connections for vehicle communication need to provide extremely low latency and high reliability for vehicle control signaling —- critical for safe operations.

Will Signaling Require High Bandwidth?

Normally signaling does not require high-bandwidth, however in this case higher data rates will be necessary if an application requires exchanging video information among vehicles,  in order to enable fleet driving for a number of cars to quickly adapt to dynamic changes in surrounding environments.​

What about Coverage?​

High mobility is required for supporting fast-moving vehicles, and full coverage is needed in case of completely UN-attended vehicles i.e., autonomous vehicle.  

​Emergency Communication

​ Emergency networks are always in existence or being planned already. However the major requirement for any emergency communication is reliable network that can help the user to be rescued and survive.  Reliability should still be in existence even if the network is damaged in a disaster.

​User phone(s) can act as relaying nodes to keep communication going on in order to assist other devices to reach the network nodes,  while temporary rescue nodes can be brought in to assist in the damaged network.

The highest important task is to locate the location of the survivor(s). It means energy efficient and high reliability (highly available) network can enable a large discovery rate among the survivors.

Some of the major requirements for Emergency communication network is:

  • Reliable setup and call establishment (To ensure one can maintain contact with the survivor after discover phase).
  • ​Energy consumption  of the survivor’s device to keep at minimum in order to prolong the time-span ( To ensure that it is still possible to detect survivor’s via the network) ​ ​

​Factory Cell Automation

Existing factory automation require devices in an assembly line to communicate with a control having sufficiently high reliability and low latency to be able to support industrial processes.

Major requirements are:

  1. Low latency 
  2. High Reliability

Only small data information is sent in factory environment and mobility is not the biggest challenge because items are usually on fixed conveyor line.  On account of that communication system of industrial communication networks is usually fixed line network today.

​In future, if the same communication infrastructure needs to be expanded to remote locations  —- it can be an expensive solution. Hence, there is a clear need for 5G wireless technologies with very low latency and high reliability in industrial communication sector as well. ​

​High-Speed Train

Imagine yourself when you are traveling for example through a train. You want to utilize your on-board time with activities in a similar way you would do at home as well. If so, like watching videos, working via remote access etc or anything else 🙂

This means​ mobility and accessibility should be available in high speed trains. The network should have ability to support high mobility.   For existing networks it may be challenging to satisfy requirements for high speed mobility without significant degradation of user experience.

Clearly, user throughput and end-to-end latency needs to be really high and tight respectively for train passengers to enjoy various services.

​Large Outdoor Event

Outdoor and large scale events that are held temporarily such as concerts, foot ball games, festivals, exhibitions etc.

During these events visitors typically want high resolution photos, videos etc. and share them with friends and family. On account of so many people concentrated in a specific area of the event, traffic volume can become enormously large. In normal circumstances network is under-dimensioned since the density of users in such an area is usually much lower unless there is such an event.

In case of crowded event scenarios the requirements is to provide average experienced user throughput that is sufficient for video data and to accommodate large traffic volume density for high connection density in crowded setting that may correspond to  multiple users per square meter. 

Globally Spread Devices

Surveillance devices, video recording and other monitoring devices have to collect relevant information to and from a massive number of geographically dispersed devices. 

In order to do that we need a system which keep track of relevant data and perform tasks and make decisions based on received and collected input.

Sensors and actuators can be used to collect the information to and from geographically dispersed devices. It may seem simple but such solutions are challenging.

Media on Demand

Consumers watch online content 24/7 , while on the road through smartphones and tablets and while at home, content may be viewed on a large TV screen where wireless device is either a smartphone or a wireless router that forwards video to the TV screen.

The capacity, throughput and QoS challenge arises when a larger number of users location in a certain area want to watch their own unique media content at the same time.  In order to meet this demand, significantly high data rates are required to provide media contents with great user experience.

Most of the traffic in this scenario is downlink-dominated while uplink portion is focused on application signalling.  Low latency is needed to quickly get up to the speed after possible link interruptions. Additionally high availability is required to widely provide services to as many users as possible, regardless of their location.

Remote Surgery and Medical Examination

In critical moments of life, the fraction of a second can make a difference between life and death.  

In order to trust wireless technology in such delicate moments, it is of utmost importance to have a reliable connection.

A very low end-to-end latency and ultra-reliable communications are required for enabling such critical healthcare services, as it is essential to instantly provide records and accurate feeling and tactile interaction in case of remote surgery.

Shopping Mall

In case of shopping malls, customers are looking for more personalized services of various kinds. The main challenges in a shopping mall are to ensure available connection (upon request for all the users) and to provide secure communication for sensitive services e.g., related to financial aspects.  Reliability is very important for such a link to avoid possible intruder.

To enable these applications, network needs to have high availability and reliability, especially for safety related applications.

Smart City

Smart city concept is not very new, the main difference is in this connectivity expands from people to connecting the objects as well.

For example, cloud services in a smart office will require high data rates at low latency, whereas small devices, wearables, sensors and actuators actually need small payloads with moderate latency requirements, such as product information, electric payment in a shopping mall and temperature, lightning control in a smart home and smart building context.

Besides the diverse requirements, it is also challenging to support a large number of concurrently active connections and an overall high traffic volume in densely populated urban areas.

Moreover, the requirements are dynamically changing due to the spontaneous crowd concentration both outdoors and indoors: for example, at train or bus stations when train or buses arrive or leave, at road crossings when the traffic light changes and in certain rooms when meetings or conferences are held.


Stadium gathers many people interested in various events, such as sports and concerts, which take place there. These participants want to be able to communicate and exchange media content during the event in the densely crowded arena.

This communication generates large amounts of traffic during the events, with highly correlated traffic peaks for instance during breaks or at the end of events, while the traffic is very low at other times.

The experienced user throughput is of high relevance for the spectators. On a network level, the traffic volume density is a major challenge due to the crowd of users wanting to access at the same time.  

Teleprotection in Smart grid network

Smart grid networks ( related to electricity, water, gas production, distribution and usage) need to be able to react fast to changes in the supply or usage of resources to avoid massive system failures with a potentially critical impact on society.

For example an electrical blackout could be a consequence when damage is caused by an unforeseen event such as tree falling in a thunderstorm unless necessary reaction and countermeasures are taken promptly.

Monitoring and controlling systems in conjunction with with wireless communication solutions can play a vital role in providing teleprotection.

Teleprotection requires very low latency and high reliability. The future wireless system satisfying the stringent requirements enables to provide such services in a wide area (nationwide, including rural areas) at a reasonable cost. Due to critical nature of such infrastructure related applications, high security and integrity standards are commonly required.  

Traffic Jam

When caught in a traffic jam, many of the passengers would want to enjoy mobile services such as streamed media content. The sudden increase in data traffic demand poses a challenge on the network, especially if the location of the traffic jam is not well covered by the infrastructure, which has typically not been optimized for this case. 

From an end user perspective, high experienced user through and high availability are important.

​Virtual and Augmented reality

Virtual reality is about users being able to interact with one another as if they were physically at the same location. 

In a virtual reality scene, people from various places could meet and interact for a wide range of applications and activities that conventionally need physical presence and interactions, such as conferences, meetings, gaming and playing music. It enables people with specific skills located remotely to jointly perform complicated tasks.

While virtual reality resembles the reality, augmented reality enriches the reality by providing additional information that is relevant to the surrounding environment of the users. With augmented reality, the users are able to benefit from the additional contextual information that may be also personalized according to their interests.

A very high data rate and tight latency are required for enabling the virtual and augmented reality. In order to  create the immersive feeling for virtual reality, all users must continuously be updated by streaming data to  others, since each member affects the virtual reality scene. Moreover, in order to enable high user experience of augmented reality, a significant amount of information should be exchanged between sensors/devices of the users and the cloud in both directions. The rich information of the surrounding environment is needed for the cloud to select the appropriate  context information, which in turn has to be provided to the users in a timely manner. 

It is also known that if there is a delay between the real reality and augmented reality of more than a few milliseconds, humans may experience so-called cyber sickness. Multi-directional streams with very high data rates and low latencies are needed to maintain the high resolution quality.

The above provided 5G use cases just capture the surface of main 5G anticipated services but the list is far from being exhaustive. 

​Feel free to comment with your suggestions and input.

Source: 5G Mobile and Wireless Communication Technology by Osseiran, Monserrat and Marsch