Are You Ready for 5G?

While 5G was a distant spec on the horizon in 2012, today the outlines of the ship are becoming more clear. Most CSPs now set 2020 as a target date for the launch of next-gen 5G mobile networks; and some, like SK Telecom, are moving faster. SK Telecom’s Alex Jinsung Choi, Executive Vice President and head of the South Korean carrier’s ICT research and development division, said that Korea,which is hosting the winter Olympics in 2018 in Pyeongchang, Korea, will want to show off 5G technology at the event. “That kind of motivation leads us to look at some other innovative technologies,” he said.

Is it too early to talk 5G as global operators rush to build and deploy 4G LTE? CNN technology reporter James O’Toole may have summed it up best when he wrote, “Is 5G around the corner? Not quite. The problem with 5G? No one’s quite sure what it is yet.”

At Super Mobility Week, powered by CTIA, in Las Vegas last month, 5G was a hot topic. It is becoming clear that a working definition is needed. Mike Haberman, Verizon Wireless, Vice President of Network Support, encapsulated the dilemma during a panel at the event. “I think the key now is defining what the requirements are for 5G.We need to figure out what problem we’re trying to solve.”

The questions on everyone’s mind: what does 5G look like, and how do we get there?

The first whisperings of 5G were uttered during a press event at Mobile World Congress in 2012, when executives from Telef√≥nica, Alcatel-Lucent and Bell Labs discussed the nascent technology. The first question posed by the audience was: since only a sliver of the world’s population has 4G (and only if you stretch the definition of it), what exactly is 5G, and who needs it?

Mobile traffic today is driven by somewhat predictable activities: making calls, receiving email, surfing the web, and watching videos. Over the next 5 to 10 years, billions of new devices with less predictable traffic patterns will join the network, including cars, machine-to-machine (M2M) modules, video surveillance that requires 24-7 bandwidth, or even a biohazard sensor that sends out tiny bits of data each day. Stir in the effects of the meteoric rise of cloud computing and it’s easy to see why new network strategies will be crucial to the fifth evolution of mobile,

Some of the qualities of a 5G network include:

  • mobile data rates of multiple gigabits per second;
  • higher spectral efficiency and advanced beam-forming technology;
  • a dramatic reduction in power consumption by both devices and macro- and microcell sites;
  • latencies of less than five milliseconds end to end;
  • a larger number of supported devices;
  • pervasive coverage;
  • extreme reliability;
  • self-healing capabilities.

In a much more real world context ,typical customers upgrading from current 4G service to 5G service can expect to see speeds up to 80 times faster than what they experience today. A 4K movie can be downloaded in just 10 seconds.

A demonstration of 5G network technology is expected for 2018 with more widespread launches happening over the course of the years to follow after that.

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