Day Two of the LTE World Summit was introduced by Adrian Scrase, CTO, ETSI; Head of Mobile Competence Centre, 3GPP, who got everyone going with a rousing run through of the work that the 3GPP is currently doing on LTE standards. In all seriousness it was useful to get an update, and the stand out item was that 3GPP is indeed starting to own on standards for operating LTE in unlicensed spectrum bands at 5.8GHz. It is also beginning a study on the use of NFV in a mobile environment and expects that to finished by the beginning of 2016.
As for 5G, Scrase seemed surprised by the background noise of 5G discussions and said that standardization work won’t even start until 2016, so wouldn’t expect that any live 5G services would be running before the end of the decade.
Tell that to SK Telekom who is planning a 5G, or at least ‘pre-5G’ launch in South Korea in time for the Winter Olympics. I first heard this from SK Telecom at the Mobile World Conference in February, and it was reiterated here by Park Jin-Hyo, SVP & Head of Network Technology R&D Center for SK Telecom.
There seemed a genuine buzz from the floor to hear JinHyo’s presentation, and by the end of it you felt SK Telecom’s reputation as a telecoms leader was justified. The operator has 99 per cent coverage in its home market, (OK, I suppose!) and it has introduced Category 6 handsets (up to 300Mbps). What was great to hear was the description of its VoLTE service, with calls established on one second, and LTE Advanced – where it was touting the new services it could offer on it, including UHD 3480×2160 4K streaming, – which does beg the question – how big are its data packages?
Jin-Hyo also ran through its vision of 5G, such as ultra-low latency, low battery consumption, ultra-high capacity, high reliability and security, and end-to-end QoE – it all sounds like a wish list for the ultimate network.
Services it could be offered are Star Wars like holographic communications, multi-angle UHD streaming, virtual reality, real-time cloud services and remote health care. JinHyo was questioned about the business case, as while it was all extremely impressive, there was no mention of how this would be economically feasible.
Sam Baker, the vie president of marketing for Samsung, highlighted the increased use of mobile video in many markets, consisting of 66 per cent traffic in the South Korea and over 50 per cent in the US. High numbers.
He also gave some good concrete descriptions of how VoLTE could be used to create some new experiences – such as calling a restaurant, and the items coming up on the screen during the call. It’s like combining a web page and telephony, but with the web page being loaded dynamically during the call. It could be replicated now using an App, but with VoLTE on 4G network the data could be loaded on the fly, making for much more responsive and dynamic use of technology After all – you often don’t know you need an app in advance. Other case involve sharing music on the fly.
Baker also described the down sides of near instant connect times on VoLTE calls – the connection is so fast, you don’t have time to prepare for the call, and by the time you raise the handset to your ear you’re connected leaving some confused about who called who! It could be an interesting adjustment to make when it arrives in the rest of the world.
He also talked about eMBMS, and dynamically inserting hyper local ads into the stream – the digital equivalent of leaflets inserted into a paper or brochure.
After all this digital nirvana, Oracle’s Senior Director, Product Marketing, Oracle Communications Chris King, had a rather more sombre message – the industry as a whole will by 2018 for the first time be making less money than it has the year before, and for that to change the industry needs to learn to innovate at ‘Internet speeds’ – introducing services that can fail fast and moving on to the next thing if it doesn’t work.
To enable that, the flexibility of NFV would of course be key. NFV was also the corner stone of enabling 5G according to Marnix Botte , Board Member for the 5GPPP, who went into some depth on what the new organization was, and how it was structured.
Moving to the exhibition floor we saw a floor packed with companies, many of them bringing something new to the LTE table.
Overall, the key themes of the event could be summed us as:
- Speed of innovation – the industry needs to learn to do it faster
- Implementation of features such as NFV, SDN and SON
- Driving efficiency through lowing cost per bit and lower power consumption to reduce cost
- Focus on enhancing the user experience to avoid churn, (with VoLTE and related services, and LTE roaming being two key examples for 2014).
- Continuing discussion on what might 5G.
Talking to people around the show the feedback was generally very positive, and while many challenges were raised, they were at least discussed and confronted, and hopefully will be addressed. Let’s see how we’re all doing this time next year…