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5 things to expect at Mobile World Congress

Posted: 27 Feb 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mobile World Congress? M2M? IoT? 5G? LTE?

Here comes 5G

The mobile industry is already abuzz about next generation cellular wireless, 5G, which is slated for mass deployment in 2020. Several keynotes and sessions will be dedicated to the 5G ramp-up at this year's show.

All the major playersQualcomm, Intel, Huawei, etc.along with a handful of smaller companies and start-ups are setting up infrastructure to meet the demands of faster throughput and higher bandwidth that 5G will surely bring.

"5G as a standard isn't done, but there are people who are looking at [4G and 5G] and trying to do pre-standard product," Linley Group Analyst Jag Bolaria told EE Times. "5G is talking about massive MIMO... focused beamforming technologies to target the signal in right direction, then increasing data rates from 1 gig to 10 gig and beyond."


Existing and likely 5G frequency bands

Higher data rates in 5G will also require more complex modulation and improved spectral efficiency, such as use of licensed and unlicensed spectrum. One chip giant hopes to improve cellular communication by mixing LTE and LTE-unlicensed (LTE-U) channels together with Wi-Fi. Such systems would likely be deployed in dense urban areas, but those chips face the challenge of managing global frequencies.

To mitigate high demand for throughput and decrease the cost of 5G deployment, several companies aim to virtualise cellular at the radio access network (RAN) level or at the core. Accenture's Miguel Myhrer said it's imperative that carriers begin to look at software define networks to reduce cost "by orders of magnitude."

Tier two and three operators around the world, particularly in eastern Europe, are already playing in that space, which Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and other traditional network providers are also focusing on the same area. Non-traditional players like start-ups are also pushing virtualisation, Myhrer added, pointing to Connectem and Lenco. Major deployments are expected around 2020 while smaller companies might move earlier. Myhrer continued:

  • This [virtualisation] will be an ultimate game-changer once fully deployed, but the whole industry will blow through this. You'll start seeing more focused deployments around SDN space with large operators in the U.S. and Asia, but they need a strategy on how they fit in from profit, to people, to perspective.

IEEE Senior Scientist Kevin Curran is a bit sceptical about the 5G timeline because of high tariffs and data plan rates for 4G users in the United Kingdom. Curran questioned the rationale behind 5G when 4G hasn't come up to speed in his home country.

"We talk about 5G enough, but it hasn't really happened. I don't particularly see a standard for 5G because they still haven't formalised where the technology is," he told EE Times. "We have seen rollout experiments in Finland and South Korea; what we've seen with 5G so far is top end 4G equipment."

5G is an umbrella term, Curran added, "but we'll know it when we see it."

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