The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN), an industry association of mobile carriers, has defined requirements for 5G including data rates, transmission speeds, spectral efficiency and latency.
So has ITU-R WP 5D- the only real standards body for 5G (AKA IMT 2020). However, the wireless networking industry has yet to agree on the Radio Access Network (RAN) and related 5G standards, despite 3GPP release 15 on “New Radio.” 5G standards won’t be completed until very late in 2020.
As we’ve reported in several IEEE techblog posts, AT&T and Verizon are conducting 5G trials in the US while other trials are proceeding in Europe and Asia.
Bullish Opinions on 5G:
Broad deployment of 5G networks is not expected until the 2020 timeframe, according to Sam Lucero, a senior principal analyst for M2M at IoT at IHS Markit. Yet despite the lack of standards, a number of speakers at last month’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) Americas in San Francisco were more bullish on 5G and expectations for its rollout.
“We expect 5G to come faster and be broader than originally thought,” said Rajeev Suri, president and CEO of Nokia. Suri said Nokia expects 5G networks to be deployed in 2019, with widespread trials next year.
“4G is like a really good rock band,” said Andre Feutsch, CTO at AT&T. “5G is like a finely tuned orchestra.” He added that he sees n 5G a tremendous opportunity for advancing and “frankly making the network more relevant.”
“From a network perspective, [5G] is an evolution,” said Gordon Mansfield, vice president of RAN and device design at AT&T. “However, from a capability perspective it will be a revolution as it unfolds.”
“The 4G network is foundational to 5G,” said Nicki Palmer, chief network officer at Verizon. She added, “It’s hard to really peel 4G and 5G apart in some ways. The good news is that the investments we make today [in 4G] lead us down the 5G path.”
“We’ve been trying to define what 5G is for the past five years,” said Ron Marquardt, vice president of technology at Sprint. “We are getting close to being able to define that. We need to educate industries on how 5G can and will disrupt them.”
Feutsch said 5G technology will enable carriers to provide solutions to a greater number of use cases. He said a lot of the work that has been done to date with pre-standards trials of 5G “were really to gain a lot of insights that helped us feed right back into the standards work.”
He added that standardization and openness would be critical to creating the healthy ecosystem that is required to enable 5G to flourish.
“We’ve got to standardize on this and avoid proprietariness as much as possible” to build a healthy 5G ecosystem Feutsch said. He said a lot of innovation for 5G would come from smaller companies — “disruptors” that need to rely on standards to make the technology they are developing fit into the 5G landscape.
Derek Peterson, chief technology officer at Boingo Wireless, a provider of mobile Internet access, also emphasized the importance of standards and urged audience members to participate in standards efforts. “Participating in standards is very important because it is going to take a collaborative effort to make all of these things work together,” he said.
The densification required for 5G transmission speeds will rely on a far greater number of smaller cell sites than previous generations of wireless technology. The process of getting the cell sites approved can vary widely from place to place, and often be one of the biggest roadblocks to 5G.
“It can take a year to get a permit for something that it takes an hour to hang on a pole,” Mansfield said.
“The biggest barrier is going to be the density that you need for 5G is something that we have never seen before,” said John Saw, Sprint’s CTO. “It’s going to be more than putting 5G on the towers that we know and love today. We need to change how we get permits for this.” Saw added.
With the wireless industry prepared to spend an estimated $275 billion to deploy 5G, governments need to streamline permitting processes.
“I think public policy makers get to have a say in how fast we spend it and where we spend it. They need to get used to the fact that there may be hundreds and perhaps thousands of permits being requested to get this density that is required,” Saw concluded.
Panelists in an IoT session said that the primary barriers to enterprise IoT adoption include limited battery capacities and insufficient interoperability between connected devices, including VPN support, cloud service compatibility and other technologies. No mention was made of 5G for low latency IoT applications.