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5 Things Happening in 5G

Elena Neira
February28/ 2017

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 is hosting this week the annual gathering of the mobile ecosystem.  Leading up to this event, 5G announcements have been plenty and coming from around the world. Among all of them, here are the trend-setters: (1) Gigabit-LTE, 5G Friend or Foe? (2) Open, cloud, disaggregated 5G features; (3) 5G disruptors too are attending MWC; (4) MWC gets updated market trends, and we look at those impacting 5G ; and last but not least (5) ITU released draft performance requirements of IMT-2020 for 5G.


“Mobile Is a Shifting Landscape, Know the Terrain”

– 5 Things Happening in 5G.




Gigabit-LTE, 5G Friend or Foe?

One of the major trends shaping mobile is user demand for mobile broadband. EMR forecasts double-digit growth through 2022. Strategies, technologies and services that cater to this trend are vividly present at MWC 2017 and there has been a number of announcements in this area from device makers, OTTs, operators and enterprises. Representative of this trend is the Gigabit LTE Experience announcement where Qualcomm, Ericsson, Telstra and Netgear have partner to showcase the world’s first Gigabit LTE network that can provide up to 1 Gbps download speeds. In this case, the mobile broadband user experience (UX) is delivered with Netgear’s Nighthawk M1 router with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X16 LTE chipset for wireless connectivity offering support for up to 20 WiFi devices on a single connection.  Qualcomm reports that using this Gigabit LTE router, the download of an HD version of a 32 minute long short film in just 15 seconds and the upload of a 300 MB 4K video to Google Photos takes 30 seconds. Today Gigabit-LTE is the answer to mobile broadband. What happens when 5G becomes commercially available by 2020 giving users UX improvements of an order of magnitude?. The demand for this improved performance and UX is currently under definition and development. It has the potential to shape how/if Gigabit-LTE competes, complements or accelerates 5G.


Source: Qualcomm, Telstra



Open,  Cloud, Disaggregation in 5G

Open, cloud and disaggregation are being incorporated as functionalities into 5G services, devices, core and access networks, and also in 5G’s management and transport domains. One of the most active areas being looked at is the overall Radio Access Network (RAN) and its basestations. From the many announcements coming out of the MWC 2017 in this area, we are selecting Infinera’s announcement of new transport solutions tailored to provide more flexible RAN transport (front-haul) functionality; their solution is oriented toward supporting flexible basestation architectures where the RF functionality (RRH) and the baseband functionality (BBU) could be split. Fronthaul transport may appear simple, but due to -among others- strict latency and synchronization requirements, these networks are complex, highly aggregated and optimized for specific HW/SW stacks. Infinera is providing a stand-alone front-haul and says its value proposition rests on the at cost savings (lower power, less equipment than traditional transport) and on more efficient operations (fewer central offices and less equipment at the cell site).


Source: Infinera




5G Disruptors Attending MWC

The three (non-traditional telco) industries disrupting 5G are all present at MWC 2017. It was difficult to pick one to showcase but Google’s announcement of CRBS plans and progress stood out from the others because it covers disruptive private cellular networking solutions, disruptive spectrum sharing techniques, and  disruptive fixed wireless business models.  The announcement by Google via blog post says that their CBRS spectrum sharing in 3.5 GHz is closer to becoming a reality.  Google says that CBRS will enable large venues such as enterprises, concert halls, sports arenas, theme parks, shopping malls — and yes even hotels and conference centers — to easily deploy private, wireless LTE networks without spending billions to lease spectrum. As far as devices, Google has demonstrated phones and MiFis with Qualcomm and Spreadtrum chipsets. On the network side testing work is ongoing with several OEMs to work on FCC’s SAS certification.


Source: Google Fiber Blog




Mobile Market Trends Impacting 5G

Ericsson Mobility Report -update released ahead of MWC 2017 – contains a wealth of numbers about the mobility market. We picked the most relevant qualitative trends in it, and turn them into quantitative forecast for 5G. A global cellular penetration rate larger than 100%, a double-digit growth in video traffic have the most impact on the future of  5G. In total we selected not 2 but 5 critical facts and figures on consumer mobile usage, adoption, subscriptions and traffic to learn and inform 5G forecasts like mobile market growth predictions, product development priorities, disruptor strategies, app release plans and even reports to the board.

Source: Facts & Figures to Forecast 5G



5G Is Real

Coinciding with the beginning of the MWC, ITU issued the draft IMT-2020 minimum performance specifications for 5G that expects to be approved by ITU-R Study Group 5 at its November 2017 meeting. The report contains three usage scenarios: enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB),  ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC), and massive machine type communications (mMTC).  The report says that the peak data rate under ideal conditions for a single mobile station is suggested to be as minimum 20 Gbps downlink and 10 Gbps Uplink. The target values for user experienced data rate in a Dense Urban (eMBB) test environment are 100 Mbps downlink and 50 Mbps Uplink. User plane latency in ideal conditions is 4 ms for eMBB and 1 ms for URLLC. Control plane latency is 20ms with an aspirational lower goal of 10 ms. As far as connection density,  each cell tower should be able to support 1 million  devices per square kilometer for massive machine type communications (mMTC), such as IoT. The ITU minimum performance requirements also includes support for mobile devices moving at up to 500 km/hr.


Source: ITU, 3GPP


Issue No. 14 (2017-02-05) of 5 Things Happening in 5G sifting through reliable sources to bring you carefully selected, buzzworthy, and focused biz, tech, and market trends. 

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Elena Neira