Home EuropeEurope I 2015 Long Term Evolution and revolution: Eleven ways – and counting – That 5G could benefit mobile operators and their Customers in 2020 and beyond

Long Term Evolution and revolution: Eleven ways – and counting – That 5G could benefit mobile operators and their Customers in 2020 and beyond

by Administrator
Chris PearsonIssue:Europe I 2015
Article no.:1
Topic:Long Term Evolution and revolution: Eleven ways – and counting – That 5G could benefit mobile operators and their Customers in 2020 and beyond
Author:Chris Pearson
PDF size:475KB

About author

Chris Pearson is the President of 4G Americas. In his role as the spokesperson and senior operating officer of the corporation, he is responsible for the strategic planning of the organization and providing executive management for the integration of strategy and operations in the areas of technology, marketing and public relations as well as public and regulatory affairs. As President of 4G Americas (formerly called 3G Americas), Mr. Pearson represents 4G Americas’ Market Representation interests within the 3rd Generation Partnership Program (3GPP) organization.

Mr. Pearson led the organization from its inception as the 3GPP family of technologies market share grew from 10 percent to over 80 percent in North, Central and South America. Mr. Pearson came to 3G Americas (now 4G Americas) from the Universal Wireless Communications Consortium (UWCC) where he served as Executive Vice President in charge of the strategic management of the global TDMA wireless technology consortium. Prior to joining the UWCC, Mr. Pearson held several senior technical and marketing positions at AT&T Wireless and GTE.

Mr. Pearson has more than 26 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, and has spoken at technology conferences throughout the world including Mobile World Congress, CTIA and 4G World.

Mr. Pearson earned a Master of Business Administration degree from The Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University and a Bachelor of Arts degree with emphasis in Marketing and Finance from the University of Washington.

Article abstract

5G could make its commercial debut around 2020. That time frame highlights one of the major challenges for 5G’s architects: predicting tomorrow’s use cases and requirements so they can develop air interfaces, network technologies and technical features capable of supporting those.

Full Article

There’s no shortage of figures showing that Long Term Evolution (LTE) is a roaring success throughout the Americas, Asia, Europe and elsewhere. In late 2014, 4G Americas reported 354 LTE networks in 119 countries were serving more than 372 million customers (Ovum).

Even so, the mobile ecosystem isn’t content to rest on its fourth-generation (4G) laurels. LTE-Advanced was deployed by 27 operators in 20 countries in late November 2014 with 40 expected by year-end. Meanwhile, operators, vendors, standards bodies and trade associations worldwide have already begun discussing and planning for 5G even though 5G has not been defined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) or any standards body. Additionally, 5G is expected coexist with 4G for many years just as LTE currently operates alongside 3G. That overlap enables operators to invest in innovation for their current networks as LTE continues to evolve. Indeed, LTE-Advanced standards will continue to be enhanced through at least 2018.

Work on 5G is nascent; it’s currently a collection of broad concepts that will take several years to refine and then turn into standards. 4G Americas already published several papers on this important subject. The first paper was published in June 2014, 4G Americas’ Summary of Global 5G Initiatives, and the second in October 2014, 4G Americas’ Recommendations on 5G Requirements and Solutions. 5G developments will take a long time because it will affect every aspect of mobility as Figure 1 illustrates.

5G could make its commercial debut around 2020. That time frame highlights one of the major challenges for 5G’s architects: predicting tomorrow’s use cases and requirements so they can develop air interfaces, network technologies and technical features capable of supporting those.

One prediction is a sure bet: The chronic spectrum shortage will continue indefinitely. ITU estimates that by 2020, Americas-region countries with high mobile usage will require up to 1161 MHz of additional spectrum. For countries such as the U.S., that would mean freeing up between double and four times the amount of spectrum currently available for cellular – and in just five years. That’s practically impossible because spectrum resources are limited, which is one reason why continuing to maximize spectral efficiency is a key goal for 5G. Hence, the value of developing antenna technologies and air interfaces that squeeze more voice and data traffic into the spectrum operators already own is significant.

For example, 4G uses Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology to minimize interference and maximize capacity. 5G could use Massive MIMO—a name that reflects the dramatic increase in both scale and benefits. Potentially there will be hundreds of antennas at each base station versus a handful with 4G LTE networks which will also enable faster, more reliable connections even when users are on a cell site’s fringe.

Here are ten more ways that 5G could benefit operators and their customers:

• Supporting the 212 billion Machine-to-Machine/Internet of Things (M2M/IoT) devices that IDC predicts will be in use by 2020. Their sheer number is only part of the challenge. 5G networks also must be able to support a wide variety of use cases – such as telemedicine, energy management and autonomous vehicles – each with its own unique cost and bandwidth requirements.

For example, 5G will support multi-Gbps uplink and downlink connections. Those speeds will enable health care providers to extend bandwidth-intensive telemedicine services outside of hospitals and other medical facilities. Paramedics, for instance, could use 5G to upload images from their ambulance’s portable ultrasound or X-ray machine so ER physicians can better prepare for incoming patients. Meanwhile, homebound patients could use 5G-enabled medical devices to upload their vital statistics in real time while having a videoconference with their doctor.

5G also could lower operators’ cost of delivering services by reducing the complexity of network architecture. Those savings could enable operators to support more potential IoT applications that may currently be too price-sensitive so they’re not as practical with 4G, 3G or 2G.

• Maximizing energy efficiency. The more that people use smartphones to manage their lives, the more important battery life becomes. 5G could include several features to extend battery life. For example, smartphone apps frequently need to exchange brief bursts of data, but 3G and 4G require them to use the same full-blown signaling process as longer communications, such as web browsing. That wastes battery life, as well as spectrum and network resources.

5G eliminates that waste by providing a connectionless way for devices to send short bursts of data; that efficiency also is ideal for many IoT applications. For example, IoT sensors on gas and water infrastructure could be more widely deployed if 5G enables their batteries to last years longer than 4G, 3G and 2G allow.

Another goal is to reduce power consumption for network infrastructure such as base stations. That could reduce operators’ cost of delivering service and enable them to extend voice and broadband to communities where solar and wind are the only power options.

• Providing the quality and reliability necessary to replace the wired Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) as the primary voice service for consumers and businesses. These enhancements – such as the aforementioned Massive MIMO – also will help make 5G a viable option for mission-critical IoT applications such as smart grids, as well as for police and other public-safety agencies that want to replace proprietary networks that are expensive to maintain and have limited broadband capabilities.

• Enabling context-aware service delivery. For example, PSTN-style services don’t require mobility management and paging, while in-vehicle infotainment applications do. By identifying each service’s mobility requirements, 5G networks can allocate their spectrum and other resources more efficiently. Context awareness also gives operators more flexibility to provide customized rate plans that meet the unique needs of each service, market segment or group of customers.

• Supporting applications with unprecedented bandwidth requirements. Examples include 4K and 8K video for digital signage, surveillance cameras, telepresence and streaming entertainment. These applications could require 100 times the speeds that 4G networks can provide.

• Enabling faster, easier deployments of additional access technologies. 5G could take a fundamentally different approach to network architecture by eliminating the traditional interdependency between the Radio Access Network (RAN) and packet core infrastructure. This separation makes the packet core access-agnostic, which means it now can more easily support additional, non-cellular radio technologies.

Today, many mobile operators use Wi-Fi to alleviate the spectrum crunch, but the experience isn’t always what it should be because there’s no commonly used simple way to provide uniform authentication, session continuity and security across cellular and 802.11. 5G’s access-agnostic core could provide those services across cellular, Wi-Fi and whatever other radio technologies emerge over the next decade.

• Accommodating a wider variety of bands, including spectrum that cellular has never used. LTE is designed to work in more than 40 bands spanning 450 MHz to 3.8 GHz. 5G will cast an even wider net, including above 6 GHz, simply because the spectrum shortage means every possible option must be considered. Another reason is because millimeter-wave spectrum can support the higher speeds necessary for bandwidth-intensive applications such as 8K video and multi-Gbps broadband access.

5G will further address the spectrum shortage by providing mobile operators with new options for sharing and aggregating spectrum. For example, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering rules to enable cellular to share the 3.5 GHz band with other technologies and Federal incumbents, with Spectrum Access Servers (SAS) managing these types of allocations. 5G RANs could include the ability to interface with SAS to request and receive allocations, as well as provide information about how spectrum is being used at a particular moment.

• Automating network configuration and management. Small cells debuted in 3G and 4G as a way to provide the coverage and capacity that customers demand, and they could be even more widely used in 5G. The catch is that small cells can easily triple or quadruple the total number of sites that each operator has to manage and deploy. 5G could enable networks to automate the configuration and management of both small and macro cells to dynamically maximize performance and minimize the need for human intervention.

• Allowing greater use of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). Some operators have begun using SDN and/or NFV for 4G to achieve greater operational efficiency. 5G enables a wider range of SDN applications, such as managing policies for quality of service, security and charging. NFV could be a fundamental part of 5G’s architecture, with the majority of RAN and packet core functions virtualized. That could provide more flexibility to meet the large and diverse demands on control and data processing from tomorrow’s mobile applications.

• Enabling direct communications between devices. With 3GPP Release 12, LTE added support for direct communications between devices in situations where it doesn’t make sense to have the network act as an intermediary. 5G could enable a wider range of Device-to-Device (D2D) use cases, such as extending the network’s coverage when only one device is within range.

Sophisticated new D2D technologies are ideal for providing communications when the network is unavailable, such between first responders following a major disaster. One example is “groupcasts,” where one device uses D2D to broadcast information to multiple nearby devices.

As outlined in the 4G Americas’ Recommendations on 5G Requirements and Solutions white paper, LTE and LTE-Advanced have a long and robust technical innovation roadmap for years to come as we move toward the next decade. However, the time for discussion and planning for networks 2020 and beyond is upon us today, and the previously outlined technical features are only a few examples of how 5G will be both an evolution and a revolution for the wireless industry.

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