The questions that arise, when thinking of 5G, is announced funding and R&D effort will reach the subscriber and when the commercial 5G networks will launch. Will that be highly profitable for the engaging investors or governments? There are several scenarios but the scope of this article is to review the 5G leading market’s announced funding, plans and expected results. Who are the serious investors and what are they trying to accomplish? What are the “best” 5G definitions?
LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the major technology that drives the next generation of mobile broadband. The sign of growth is positive and rather glooming as LTE networks will account for 1 in 5 Mobile Broadband subscriptions by 2017. But this upcoming 5G concept aims more to build that mobile ecosystem that 4G has set the ground. What to expect is a truly converged network where wired and wireless communications will use the same infrastructure. In that environment interoperability and standard solution will allow applications to smoothly adapt, helping subscribers to “stay connected”.
Today, 5G is also described as the ” beyond 2020″ mobile communications technology. 5G is not described today by any particular specification in any official document published by any telecommunication standardization body. However there is always a technology vision from the vendors or other experts when defining the upcoming or the future and that usually derives from technological elements that are lacking today. New International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) spectrum is expected to be agreed upon for the World Radio Communication Conference (WRC) in 2015 in Geneva. ITU is currently at work on IMT spectrum requirements for 2020 and beyond.
What is the vision of the top vendors, if we sample Ericsson and Huawei?
Definition #1 by Ericsson
“5G is an evolution of existing standards and arise of new complementary technologies. 5G will enable the long-term Networked Society and realize the vision of unlimited access to information for anyone and anything. 5G solution will not consist of a single technology but rather an integrated combination of radio-access technologies. This includes existing mobile-broadband technologies such as HSPA and LTE that will continue to evolve and will provide the backbone of the overall radio-access solution beyond 2020. But it also includes new complementary radio-access technologies for specific use cases. Smart antennas, expanded spectrum – including higher frequencies – and improved coordination between base stations will all be crucial to fulfilling the requirements of the future.”
Definition #2 by Huawei
“5G wireless networks will support 1,000-fold gains in capacity, connections for at least 100 billion devices, and a 10 Gb/s individual user experience capable of extremely low latency and response times. Deployment of these networks will emerge between 2020 and 2030. 5G radio access will be built upon both new radio access technologies (RAT) and evolved existing wireless technologies (LTE, HSPA, GSM and WiFi). Breakthroughs in wireless network innovation will also drive economic and societal growth in entirely new ways. 5G will realize networks capable of providing zero-distance connectivity between people and connected machines.”
As we all agree that 5G will not really be deployed before 2020, lots of enthusiasm is buzzing as usually in an effort to fix 4G technology’s weaknesses and lead connectivity’s perfection. Europeans have already built the ‘5G Infrastructure Partnership’ to usher in a new era in mobile network development. The Partnership is an industry association comprising public-private partners (the so-called 5G-PPP), funded from €700 million from public sources to develop the next generation of ubiquitous 5G communication systems during its seven-year Horizon 2020 programme. European are planning seriously to take the 5G leadership, sharing expertise with the rest of the world. However there is a “threat” growing in Asia that aims to overtake Europe’s leadership.
South Korea and specifically SK Telecom announced recently their 5G plan. Ministry of Science and Technology announced in 2014 that it would invest $1.5 billion (1.6 trillion won) and partner with local telecom operators and smartphone makers to install a 5G wireless network that would become fully operational by December 2020. Korean 5G connections are expected to reach speeds 1,000 times faster than existing 4G speeds, announcing the impressive “one-sec-movie-download service”. On 5G, the same 800MB movie would take just a second to download. South Korea will begin trial tests for its planned 5G service in 2017 and a full rollout is expected by the end of 2020 when others are planning 5G beyond 2020. Additionally SK Telecom will offer 300 Mbps “3band-LTE-A” connections by the end of 2014 capable of downloading full-length movies (800MB) in 22 seconds. However no serious standards are officially launched yet which puts a big question mark to the 2017 deadline.
In 2014, China Mobile, the world’s largest provider of mobile communications, has started the development of standard 5G network. Currently the largest telecom companies China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have not yet completed the installation of all stations of standard 4G, and the current officially launched fourth-generation network is extremely small. However, projects of foreign companies to build the fifth-generation network are forcing Chinese operators to begin to develop standards of next generation networks. During the past two years there has been a close collaboration between NSN and China Mobile, especially in the area of TD technology development, and specifically TD-LTE, helping to provide a “personal gigabyte” experience.
Conclusions, where is 4G/LTE standing?
4G LTE can carry 70 per cent more traffic than the latest 3G technology – most likely enough to meet capacity needs by 2020 no matter the high demand for mobile data. European telecom operators saw revenues down by single digit per cent in 2012 and 2013. However, 100 per cent of new smartphones and tablets to be LTE-enabled from 2015, leading to a 54 per cent penetration of 4G-enabled devices in the population by 2016. Then, the next 4-years till 2020, 4G will be quickly spread across Europe and other countries, experiencing commercial success. However 4G will rather allow Telcos to take advantage of this new technology to innovate in their offerings, their services and their networks.