Though 4G networks are not yet deployed all around the globe, the next-generation mobile standard has already begun to take shape. 5G was the megatrend at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. Yet its definition won’t be complete until 2020.
“On the Path to 5G,” “Building Next-Gen Standard,” “5G: the Future is Happening.” These are some of the signs visible along the aisles at Mobile World. 5G was everywhere and on everyone’s lips, each offering a different definition. Yet, this next-gen mobile standard will only be finalized in 2020.
A Revolutionary New Ecosystem
From Huawei to Ericsson and Samsung to Nokia, the fair’s industrial players maintained that 5G is expected to encompass both an evolution of LTE-A (4G) features and the introduction of genuinely new technology. It will represent a whole new ecosystem with a new architecture.
For Aisha Evans, Corporate VP and General Manager at Intel:
When we talk about 5G, it’s not just taking existing technologies like LTE, WiFi and improving them. It’s also creating new technologies like mobile edge millimeter wave.
The mm-wave spectrum has long been ignored by the mobile industry. But Intel is now working on developing mm-wave cells suitable for mobile handsets. According to the company, by tapping into the 30-300 GHz spectrum, mm-wave technology will offer backhaul performance and address the need for massive IoT deployment and connection of billions of devices.
In addition to the billions of phones and tablets that are connected, there will soon be robots, drones, all kind of things that today are not connected. 5G will enable the connection of everything to the cloud from everywhere.
In addition, 5G is expected to have multi-radio access architecture, enabling devices to connect to multiple 5G cells at the same time, offering always-connected capability.
New 5G Services
What will 5G offer?
- Massive throughput, with download speeds of up to 20 Gbps, will be like 30,000 people in a stadium watching a YouTube video on their smartphones at the same time.
- Low latency of less than 1ms—50 times faster than today’s 4G—will enable autonomous driving that requires fast response and action.
- Multipoint connection density, though not yet defined, will enable the deployment and connection of billions of IoT devices currently with little or no connectivity. This will provide 1 million connections/km2.
- Narrow-band will also aid machine-to-machine communication, enabling small amounts of data to be efficiently sent and received.
- Tailored connectivity means the architecture will automatically deploy the appropriate network in the most efficient way for a particular service. For example, it will be possible to create a temporary, task-specific network which disappears once the mission has been accomplished.
- Connectivity accessible everywhere will facilitate remote industrial operations, for example in the oil and gas and mining industries, or for remote surgery.
- Ultra-reliability should render the network uncrackable, ensuring a level of security hitherto impossible. Autonomous driving will also benefit.
Though the network is not yet in place, Intel has already established itself as a groundbreaking leader, in collaboration with key industry players like Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, SK Telecom, China Mobile and Cisco.
Preparing the Network
Intel is working with partners on a prototype to make 5G a reality. During the fair, the company even announced that they had “an actual platform, an actual prototype available.”
Using a signal generator and measurement instruments, Intel partner National Instruments is working with universities to simulate different scenarios, prototyping real waveforms and signals to offer a clear definition of 5G. The company is already generating multiple connections using mm-wave.
The first large-scale trial of 5G technology will take place during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Hicham Dhouibi, industry analyst at DirectIndustry, contributed to this report.