Based on my observations at MWC and outside, here is an analysis of why 5G matters and how it could shape the technological landscape of countries.
What is 5G
The Ericsson white paper on 5G says “5G radio access is an integrated set of technologies addressing a wide variety of use cases and requirements”
This statement sounds very generic but covers a lot of specific details because technology does not exist in vacuum. Hence, 5G should be seen in context of the previous technological evolutions. These are: 1G(1980’s) Voice; 2G(1990’s) Voice & Text; 3G(2000’s) Multimedia; 4G(2010’s) Mobile Internet. Building on these, 5G could be seen as a set of technologies that bring the networked society to life. This statement ‘creating a set of technologies that bring the networked society to life’ also sounds aspirational ..
So we need to explore what 5G means for applications and services
Today, Mobile traffic is driven by predictable activities which include making calls, email communications, browsing, watching video etc. Over the next 5 to 10 years, it is expected that billions of new devices with less predictable traffic patterns will join the network. These include Smart meters, Automotive applications, remote surveillance etc.
So, to handle this, 5G represents a convergence of Radio access technologies. To this, 5G also adds a good user experience as a goal
What does 5G mean for applications and applications?
The drivers for 5G are
- Massive growth in Connected Devices
- Wide range of Requirements and Characteristics
- Making access affordable and sustainable
To achieve this in a diverse ecosystem as discussed above, from a network standpoint, we could classify applications along the parameters:
- high volume(classical)
- latency oriented
- data payloads
- energy efficiency
- network reliability
- Relaxed latency requirements – Remote meter reading for billing purposes
- Strict latency requirements – Safety or control mechanisms in the process industry,
- High network reliability – Applications relating to the control of critical infrastructure (such as electrical grids), industrial control etc
- High volume – Remote video surveillance,
- Low payload – Smart metering
And all these on a massive scale (50 billion)
5G will expand into new deployment scenarios, for example ultra-dense deployments where the distance between network access nodes may be as small as a few meters and to Direct device-to-device communication. Direct to device supports radio access between a terminal and an access point connected to the Internet. Direct to device is beneficial when devices that share information are close to each other and information has in a local context.
What to expect from next generation wireless networks technology?
Some of the qualities of a 5G network include:
- mobile data rates of multiple gigabits per second;
- higher spectral efficiency and advanced beam-forming technology;
- a dramatic reduction in power consumption by both devices and macro- and microcell sites;
- latencies of less than five milliseconds end to end;
- a larger number of supported devices;
- pervasive coverage;
- extreme reliability;
- self-healing capabilities.
The blog What to expect from the next generation of wireless communications? Gives a good outline of 5G features which I summarise below
End to end broadband connectivity that meets or exceeds user expectations – Higher data rates , superior end user experience, minimal dead zones and dropped data/voice packets, high quality of voice, ubiquitous Five signal bars, close to zero Latency, no network congestion, pervasive and robust networks that can withstand natural calamities
Dynamic allocation of resources –mapping the service requirements to the most suited combination of frequency and radio resources.
Customized user specific experience – The future wireless communications will focus increasingly on delivering enhanced support for diverse applications while remembering the customers’ preferences and usage patterns. The customer will be able to trust the service provider. Quality of service will be tailored to the applications’ demand.
Multi-hop mobile ad hoc networks – Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANETs) are designed to operate without any infrastructure and possess self-organizing capabilities. The wireless nodes communicate among themselves using multi-hop radio relaying, without the packets passing through a central access point or a base station.
The Internet of Things – The idea of machine to machine communications is not new and has been discussed for years. However, the ‘Internet of Things’ is a relatively fresh term referring to various objects in our lives all possessing a unique RFID (linked to an IP address). They will communicate with each other without human interference, help in decision making and save time.
Centimeter and millimeter wave frequencies as spectrum source –The spectrum above 3 GHz has been largely left untouched so far in most parts of the world. High frequencies means low range
Smart and efficient receivers –The primary intelligence of the network will remain with the transmitter for the foreseeable future, but eventually receivers will play an increasingly important role in making the mobile environment more efficient on a network level.
This is summarised in the following diagrams
The race for the next generation game changers is on ..
5G could be a game changer for countries and companies and many have realised that
The UK effort is led by the University of Surrey 5G research center
Ericsson led metis2020 project, the Intel Strategic Research Alliance for 5G, the EU project 5gnow , Huawei’s 5G collaborations in Europe (especially in Munich) and ofcourse Neelie Kroes announcements for 5G are examples of various projects in this space
The World Radiocommunications Conference, scheduled for November 2015. Will bring many of these discussions into focus
The new 5G-Public Private Partnership will work in three phases over the next six years to define and launch the 5G infrastructure:
- Phase I (2014-2016): Basic research work / Vision building
- Phase II (2016-2018): System optimization / Pre-standardization
- Phase III (2018-2020): Large-scale trials / Early Standardization
To conclude, the discussions for 5G are only just beginning! And much is at stake
A unified view of a 5G network would look as below