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Are we ready for indoor positioning using 5G?

5G is one of the “buzz words” of today’s technology. The 5th generation mobile network is entering our world with a strong momentum, addressing many new and interesting use cases. One of the scenarios, that we hear about more and more these days, is indoor positioning.

5G dramatically reduces network devices response time and guarantees latency below five milliseconds. This capability, together with Multi-user, Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) directional antenna technology, allows calculating fairly accurate coordinates. When combined with mmWave band, 5G promises positioning accuracy inside buildings of even less than one meter (just over 3 feet).

The question is – are we ready for this change?

Costly infrastructure is quite a challenge. To triangulate with 5G technology, a device needs to be in constant contact with 5 antennas. Although the latency of the sub-6GHz technology used in current 5G deployments is lower than 4G, it does not appear to be low enough for accurate indoor positioning. Moreover, the need for faster transmission does not appear to be high enough to justify the need for additional investment. The cost of installing NR (New Radio), even for cells covering small areas inside buildings, is still very expensive. Lastly the 5G terminal equipment is compute intensive and requires very large batteries to provide long operation times.

Is there any alternative way?

In our opinion, UWB-based systems are still the best solution for indoor positioning.  The infrastructure costs of systems such as Trackgent are at levels comparable to the installation of BTLE-based systems and orders of magnitude less expensive than 5G infrastruture. At the same time, their precision (with accuracy measured in centimeters) and ease of deployment, installation and maintenance continue to classify this technology as the most optimal choice for those who use localization to improve the efficiency of work processes or increase safety.

If you would like to learn more about how Trackgent can help improve your processes efficiency with precise indoor positioning, feel free to contact us.