January 29, 2015 — There are rumblings that 5G is getting more substantial and people are starting to actually see how it will come together. In fact it now has another moniker – Tactile Internet – hmmm.
One note of interest, 5G is slated to have native inclusion of small cells in the spec being developed by Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance. This is because of the increase in small cell base station density and the number of carrier components spanning both microwave and millimeter wave spectrum.
Here are some of the metrics:
• ABi Research predicts 5G subscriber growth will likely be a bit more muted that 4G was due to the increased complexity of 5G cells and networks, but will pick up in 2023.
• 5G will encompass spatial division as the foundation of the air interface, leveraging techniques like massive MIMO—achievable in devices because of the high frequency of spectrum that will be used—and 3D beamforming to form narrow beams that divide the space around a 5G base station.
• 5G will operate in a higher frequency spectrum, simply because there isn’t a lot of open spectrum available that has the necessary large contiguous bands needed for higher speeds. The frequency conundrum industry is expected to come to a consensus on this within the next year or two.
• 5G will drive the proliferation of small cell architectures simply because at those higher frequencies propagation is more limited and signals do not penetrate building walls and other obstructions well. This metric makes it difficult to support at a macro cell level. Although some may be concerned about the cost of deploying so many small cells, the benefits of providing more bandwidth to more users faster will eventually swing the monetization.
• Software defined networks (SDNs) and network function virtualization (NFV) will be the great enablers for 5G and will be able to respond to spikes in demand based on changing demographics, special events, and natural or man-made disasters. These technologies will be a core component of 5G.
While it is still early in the 5G cycle, we are nearer to some meat than we were last year. The formal standards process for 5G is finally beginning. Vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Networks, as well as device, semiconductor and IP vendors Intel, InterDigital, Qualcomm, Samsung and mobile operators are starting to invest.