5G is fast becoming one of the key talking points dominating the telco space and was one of the major themes to come out of this year’s MWC. Despite the fact that 5G dominated numerous discussions at MWC, there is indeed still much uncertainty over what 5G actually is.
Many argue that 5G is just a buzzword, however the level of debate around 5G at MWC indicates that it is no longer just a marketing ploy but is moving towards becoming something much more substantial with a growing number of associations and research institutions paving the way from LTE to 5G.
Europe is already playing a vital role in driving research into these future networks. The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has unveiled a new 5G research partnership between the UK and Germany, whilst also hailing the technology as the new industrial revolution.
In addition to announcing this new 5G partnership, which will see collaboration between Germany’s Dresden University and Britain’s King’s College University in London, and the University of Surrey, the UK Prime Minister also spoke of the huge potential of the Internet of Things and committed £45 million to researching this increasingly important phenomenon.
In December 2013, the European Commission announced that it intends to spend €700 million on 5G research within the next seven years, and as part of this, it has launched a new association, the 5GPPP, with the aim of developing the necessary technology and infrastructure for 5G.
At a 5GPPP seminar at MWC, vice president of the EU’s Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, spoke of the importance of developing 5G technology and the advantages that this could bring for Europe. Kroes believes that being at the forefront of 5G is crucial in boosting the region’s economy, tackling youth unemployment, and putting Europe back in the driving seat for technology innovation.
There are still many questions around 5G however it is evident that collaboration is essential and key! This new technology requires the entire telecom, media and enterprise community to collaborate and work together in order to realise the benefits and potential of this future network. Furthermore, 5G is not simply a cheaper and faster network but, more importantly, will be much more intelligent! When trying to decipher what a 5G network could look like, some potential attributes of 5G networks that I identified include that 5G will be more energy efficient; QoE will be enhanced; 5G will be the first user-centric network; 5G can use any spectrum and frequency; NFV and SDN will play a key role; and so on.
Despite the image of a 5G network becoming clearer, the key questions that remain are around which services and applications will dominate and drive the move towards 5G? What will the network look like? Is there a need to completely revamp the infrastructure? How will MNO’s transition to 5G? How will they need to adapt their business models? What new services will be enabled once a fully 5G mobile network is available?
The LTE World Summit will be bringing together expert speakers from these leading associations, as operator representatives from China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DoCoMo, EE, Vodafone, Bell Mobility and Telecom Italia, at the first dedicated 5G World Summit, taking place alongside the LTE World Summit event in June. This two-day focused conference is already proving to be a must-attend global platform, bringing together the world’s mobile broadband community to discuss the future of 5G and the transition to 5G from LTE and LTE-Advanced.