Looking ahead Towards the Anticipated Benefits of 5G

Key motivator of 5G is to meet the growing demand for high quality and high speed wireless connectivity across the globe beyond 2020

What is the big deal about 5G?  Why is everyone talking about it?  Why is so much money being spent on R&D to develop and marketing to capture the hearts and minds of the ICT industry?

As the Internet generation grows accustomed to having broadband access wherever they go and not just at home or in the office, the true promise of mobile broadband is becoming a reality.  Fifth Generation (5G) mobile/cellular networks the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards beyond the upcoming 4G LTE standards.

The primary key motivator of 5G is to meet the overall societal and industrial requirement of high quality and high speed wireless connectivity across the globe beyond 2020. Regional forums and governments, such as Digital Agenda for Europe, share the same vision with 5G network. Everybody is working to define a uniform 5G global vision including technology, spectrum, and service requirements.

5G is not expected until 2020 in any commercially meaningful form.  In addition, LTE remains in the relatively early stages of commercial deployment and major improvements are forthcoming such as LTE Advanced (LTE-A).

In many ways, 5G is different from its immediate predecessors 4G, such as network architecture, spectrum bandwidth, service applications or layers, etc.  One key difference is that 5G will represent an all-IP network, which has the following associated characteristics and implications:

Support for a variety of different access systems

  • Common capabilities provided independent to the type of service provided with convergence to IP technology considered from the perspective of the system as a whole
  • High performance mobility management that provides end-user, terminal and session mobility
  • Ability to adapt and move sessions from one terminal to another
  • Ability to select the appropriate access system based on a range of criteria
  • Provision of advanced application services as well as seamless and ubiquitous services
  • Ability to efficiently handle and optimally route a variety of different types of IP traffic including user-to-user, user-to-group and ubiquitous service traffic models
  • High level of security and support for user privacy e.g. location privacy, identity privacy

All of these capabilities are intended to support various anticipated commercial benefits for society.  When commercially available, 5G networks are intended to be highly reliable, flexible, adaptable, and capable as depicted in the below diagram from NGMN.

There are many anticipated service provider and end-user benefits coming with 5G including the following:

  • CSPs: 5G will benefit in many ways.  5G network will make services much easier and cheaper.  Leading service areas include smart grids, smart buildings, smart cities, smart transport, smart government, e-health and many others.  However, operators need to change their existing business models and costs models to tap the emerging opportunities.
  • Consumers:  5G will ensure better user services, such as Augmented Reality that rely upon ultra-high data rate (virtually no latency) to support applications regardless of time and space. It will also expedite quicker development of new services ecosystem and will enhance experience by providing contextual information supporting personalized end-user experience.
  • Enterprise: 5G will enable enterprises to fulfill their needs such as security, privacy, reliability, and latency. Enterprise will also be able to enhance their work process and applications by using exposure capabilities like location, analytics etc. In a word, enterprise will gain extra level of consistency.
  • Industry Verticals: 5G will allow enterprise verticals to operate their functions and capabilities flexibly such as offering service having high degree of self service in built to save costs, and to make it profitable. This way every industry verticals can build sustainable business case.
  • Third-party Entities: 5G will allow flexible value creation scope on network level so that partners can build and launch faster for the benefit of all. In a word, it will create a partner focused environment.

Some more general benefits anticipated from 5G include:

  • Longer battery life for 5G based sensing devices that also consume less energy
  • High data rates with low latency requirements to support applications like AR/VR, 3D gaming etc.
  • Spectral efficiency in 5G network will allow consuming a fraction of energy that is being currently using in 4G networks
  • 5G will bring many more disruptive capabilities on network and service level, for example, improved services in terms of capacity, latency, mobility, accuracy, reliability, availability, and simultaneous connectivity among many devices
  • Consistent user experience across time, place, space, technology and devices
  • User will be able to switch their session across devices and interaction patterns such as touch, speech, face and eye recognition

The entire ICT industry (vendors, operators, academia and government) are showing great intensity in terms of defining and developing 5G technology.  In addition, associated service requirements and standards are being developed through different forums including discussion, collaboration, research, and limited trials. It is generally anticipated that 5G will launch with commercial availability by 2020.

Stay tuned to Telecom Engine as we monitor developments in 5G with a keen eye toward the anticipated benefits and associated ROI for all industry constituents.

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