5G – the future?

5G (5th generation mobile networks or 5th generation wireless systems) also known as Tactile Internet denotes the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards.
NGMN Alliance or Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance defined 5G network requirements as:

  • Data rates of several tens of Mb/s should be supported for tens of thousands of users.
  • 1 gbit/s to be offered, simultaneously to tens of workers on the same office floor.
  • Up to Several 100,000’s simultaneous connections to be supported for massive sensor deployments.
  • Spectral efficiency should be significantly enhanced compared to 4G.
  • Coverage should be improved
  • Signalling efficiency enhanced.

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5G Networks to soon replace 4G?

Source: Ofcom

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5G Networks to soon replace 4G?

Planning for the future

The timeframe for the launch of 5G services is uncertain, although commercial applications could emerge by 2020, subject to research and development and international agreements for aligning frequency bands.

Spectrum above 6 GHz currently supports various uses, from scientific research to satellite broadcasting and weather monitoring.

Steve Unger, Acting Chief Executive of the UK’s telephone watchdog Ofcom, said:

“We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications. Working with industry, we want to lay the foundations for the UK’s next generation of wireless communications.

“5G must deliver a further step change in the capacity of wireless networks, over and above that currently being delivered by 4G.

“No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers’ needs”

The average 10-year time cycle between two generations of communications infrastructures is quickly shrinking. EU investment in 5G technology is particularly relevant in order to reinforce EU know-how and leadership in the field of ultrafast broadband, able to support the traffic expected in 2020.

Such efforts will also boost networks and Internet architectures in emerging areas such as machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The proliferation of smartphones is driving ever-increasing demand for mobile data – in fact some predict it will grow by a hundred times over the next decade – with much demand for video and other high-speed services. At the same time, we are just beginning to see the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), whereby billions of devices will become connected to help us achieve everyday tasks such as finding a parking space, or making sure our fridge is stocked with milk.

In order to meet all of these requirements, 5G will be fully focused on users and their needs, unlike previous mobile communication networks. The aim will be to give the user the impression of unlimited data rates while juggling available resources. Two ways of achieving this will be to predict user demand better so that applications perform bandwidth-heavy tasks when the network is least loaded – optimising network response times where needed using a measure known as ‘latency’ – and to make better use of all available wireless networks.

Essentially, 5G will be a holistic framework for all our communications needs, and it will need to be flexible enough to evolve, adapt and grow – just as the internet has.

For a comprehensive look at the history of mobile telephony up to 5G, please download our white paper pdf.

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A (not so) brief history of mobile telephony