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5G development still needs work, industry says

Posted: 17 Mar 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:5G? Mobile World Congress? wireless communication?

Legal and economic requirements for the adoption of 5G technology still need to be defined, as discussed by industry experts at the recent Mobile World Congress.

5G is hoped to deliver as much as a 100x increase in throughput to 10Gbit/s per connection, some links at new low latencies and many new services, some over yet-to-be-defined spectrum. Industry experts hope 5G cellular bands will range from below 6GHz to 100GHz.

Standardisation of the band below 6GHz may occur in November at the ITU-R-sponsored World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC), but earlier comments from the ITU chair encouraged waiting until there was absolute consensus. At the same time, panellists at MWC agreed that the roll out and practical application of 5G technologies is more of a commercial proposition, begging the question of where the intersection of economics and long-term infrastructure lies for a 2020 deployment.

Countries such as Japan and Korea are already working towards early adoption of 5G, 3GPP Chair Balazs Bertenyi said. The requirements of those countries will need to be met and influence of these early adopters is part of a unique feedback loop unheard of in older communications standards, he said.

As host of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Korea has a tangible reason to invest in the new radio access networks and other infrastructure for 5G. Countries and operators with less pressing international issues may have less of a reason to invest early. Ericsson CTO Ulf Ewaldsson said there will need to be an 80 per cent reduction in system costs for 5G to become ubiquitous.

Details of link quality, price and the availability of the network are often determined by the market, Etisalat Group CTO Hatem Bamatraf said, adding that this is usually a three-to-five-year process and often not technically driven. Licence requirements can become more important than the technology itself in cases where service providers can be penalised for violation of regulatory obligations, he said.

Evolution or revolution?

The European commission will invest $740 million in 5G research and development over the next five years with the expectation that industry will match this contribution five times over to total $4.4 billion. During a panel discussion on 5G requirements, moderator Dan Warren, GSMA director of technology standards, questioned how networks and operators plan to gain real revenue to offset investments.

A continuous flow of software deployment and technical development, which Ewaldsson called an "evolutionary approach," will be essential in convincing sceptical customers to upgrade and also provide revenue opportunities.

I think many operators and many of my customers are extremely concerned about making any investments for a completely new system, so I think the evolutionary approach is the only one that is viable at the moment. That means that there will be a continuous upgrade and flow, and eventually we will meet those requirements.

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