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EU Sets Out Rules for 5G Small Antennas in Boost for Data Capacity

5G connectivity could offer big things for smartphones, the Internet of Things and other consumer electronics of tomorrow. Mobile operators around the world are racing to bring the next generation to market, and one of the big questions right now is how to integrate the tiny, ultra-fast fifth generation mobile internet “small antenna” technology (A-TAC) into current networks.

In a new white paper released today, the European Commission set out the conditions that will apply to small antennas – devices smaller than a human hair which will receive 5G signals directly from towers instead of using traditional radio transmission networks like WiFi.

The black box in the sky

According to the paper, 5G antennas will operate using standard miniaturized A-TAC with huge potential impact on the future global trade in small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). That’s a big deal, because as the EU sees it, it will be the mini UAVs, drones and robotic insects of the future that will drive huge changes in the way we live. In a paper released by Nervana Systems last week, it predicts that the global market for small UAVs will exceed $30 billion by 2023.

But even beyond that, the new regulation will help 5G become one of the biggest global tech advancements of the 21st century. In the report, the EU Commission says it is important to define the transport and use standards and define the exact conditions under which small antennas will be used, on what technologies, and where. In the shorter term, the commission expects that its proposed intervention on 5G small antennas will contribute to the rollout of advanced services by 2020.

The technology behind 5G and the small antenna

Small antennas will allow operators around the world to significantly improve their mobile internet coverage, particularly in rural areas and poorer urban environments where it has been very difficult to build networks to their full potential.

The EU is already planning to build up its A-TAC fleet in order to help to maximise the capacity of current and future mobile network infrastructure. Mobile operators around the world are involved in this race to put 5G everywhere, but regulators such as the EU have been pivotal.

5G small antennas will carry data at speeds around 5G, and into those micro UAVs which will take pictures at a fraction of the usual scale. In the near future, they will become “black boxes” on top of which a camera will transmit high-definition pictures, as well as video of other objects to any location on the planet.

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