A number of 5G demos and trials are expected to start within the next few months running up to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea which is likely to see the first full blown public demo of a pre-standard version of the new network.
The 3GPPP – which defines 3G and LTE standards – is to start work on a 5G standard in December, initially modelling channel performance for frequencies above 6 GHz. Many companies already have ideas for key pieces of a spec with Samsung and Nokia both announcing in recent months that they’ve been working on 5G ideas.
“We see 2015 as the transition from research to standardisation,” said Peter Merz, head of radio systems research at Nokia Networks, which in June launched its Nokia AirFrame Data Centre Solution – built with hardware, software and services tailored for Telco IT, being able to run the most common IT cloud applications in parallel with the telco cloud, and meet the future demands of the 5G era.
So far, 5G demos have been limited to single, isolated technologies. But at the Mobile World Congress being held next February in Barcelona, vendors are expected to show multiple 5G technologies although the new network isn’t expected to be available commercially before 2020.
One of the key expectations from 5G is improved capabilities for data transfer, with rates of up to as much as 10 or 20 Gbits/second being mooted, although that is likely to be restricted to dense urban areas. The potential for new capabilities within the telecoms industry is massive, with 5G potentially operating at millimetre or even centimetre frequencies of 30 to 400 GHz and support for machine-to-machine networks with latency as low as a millisecond or even a few hundred microseconds.
According to Merz, the air interface needs to be flexible working across a range of millimetre and centimetre frequencies and “it must be forward compatible because you don’t want to limit yourself with decisions now,” he added.
He believes it should be based on:
- Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) waveforms and access schemes using unpaired bands
- Frequency bands ranging from 3 to 40 GHz
- A flexible numerology and dynamic time shifting to create flexible up/downlinks
- Control channels that quickly signal terminals when services need low latency
Top base station providers hammered out many of their ideas for air interfaces in Europe’s Metis project (Mobile and wireless communications Enablers for Twenty-twenty (2020) Information Society). In addition, some operators have their own ideas, Merz said.
“Like concept cars we all have designs in mind, and we know they will not be the final outcome because it’s a contribution-driven process… the devil is in the details,” he said.
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