Itsuma Tanaka, Lead Core Network Architect, Core Network Development Department, NTT Docomo is speaking on the subject of “5G Infrastructure”, on Day One of the 9th annual LTE Asia conference, taking place on the 23rd-25th September 2014 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Here we get insight into his views on 5G, the IoT, and LTE roaming.
What, in your opinion, will truly define 5G?
5G is the search for a new paradigm; one that will support society for another 20 years. Therefore, 5G will be defined by the new business architecture on top of technical advancements to maximize the potential of mobile radio communication.
Will 5G require an overhaul of current network architectures, or will it be an evolution?
There are on-going debates in various industry meetings, so it is still unclear. However, our view is that the direction will be toward new disruptive breakthrough architecture, in order to obtain greater spectrum and economic efficiencies.
What impact will the IoT have on your decision making in the next five years?
The IoT (or M2M) has already had a great impact on our decision making regarding our business strategy, network planning and our R&D roadmap. While the IoT will bring promising business opportunities through innovative applications operators will still be required to ensure a high level of network stability, specifically that excessive data and signalling traffic will not cause any service disruptions. The challenge is to improve the economic efficiency of the infrastructure to make the business profitable.
Do you believe Japan will take the lead in 5G?
Japan is already taking the global lead in 5G. NTT Docomo has been very active and holds leadership positions in various industry fora around the world to lead the discussion in 5G.
Why is lowering network power consumption important for operators and what are the key technologies that you are looking at to achieve this?
Lowering the network power consumption is one of the important ways to reduce the total cost of operation of the network. Examples of key technologies include (but not limited to) the “green” base station technology and the virtualized network to move user data to specific data centres to enable the shutting down of specific equipment to save power.
What would you say is the biggest challenge you will face in the next five years?
Reducing the TCO to support ever-increasing data volumes and signalling, and finding ways to innovate the ecosystem among business partners, including OTT service providers.
Can we expect LTE roaming to be commonplace by this time next year?
NTT Docomo has started LTE roaming with operators in major destinations for Japanese customers and is now available in more than 15 countries and regions in America, Europe, and Asia. The number of partner operators will definitely continue to grow. I see similar trends in the operators all around the world. So, yes, global LTE roaming is definitely going to be commonplace by this time next year.
Why is the best part of conferences such as LTE Asia for you?
LTE Asia is an exciting opportunity for everyone in the industry to get exposed to cutting-edge ideas and to establish new relationship with business minds in the region.