This blog is by Karri Ranta-Aho at Nokia Networks.
During the last year or so, a lot has been said and written about the marvels of 5G and how it will provide infinite capacity everywhere, all the time, for tens of billions of devices by 2020 and beyond. Several forums have been identifying requirements derived from future projections of mobile data demand, and companies like Nokia have been sharing visions on the future of mobile communications.
Meanwhile, researchers have been busy identifying and studying technical solutions that should help us meet these communication needs and visions. However, all the high expectations, plethora of requirements, and various research organization concepts should be eventually funneled into The 5G Standard – and this is not a nut that cracks itself. It will take determination, hard work, cooperation and time before the lights can be switched on in a 5G network.
The work flow can be split loosely into different phases which overlap to some extent:
1. Vision and requirements – This is to identify what the 5G systems should do, and to some extent, the required setup. There is understandably a beehive of activity around these topics as everyone wants to shape the new system to reflect what he or she believe the future needs are. Thus the large number of forums engaged in somewhat overlapping efforts. Nokia participates in one way or another in the following 5G related forums*: NGMN, ITU-R WP5D, METIS project, 5G PPP, 5G Forum, Future Forum, IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group, 863-5G, ARIB 2020 and Beyond Ad Hoc, 4G Americas, NYU Wireless Industrial Affiliates Program, WWRF and more. In addition to the collaboration forums, the telecom companies are of course conducting in-house work on the 5G vision and requirements.
2. Technology components – This is the hard-core research focused on the latest and greatest at the technology front that may have potential to become the key building blocks of the future system. Universities and research institutes, private corporations and public-private partnerships – many of which mentioned in the above list – are now busy developing a variety of promising technology solutions. The cooperative research phase is crucial in understanding which solutions have potential, and to ensure that industry and academia together gradually develop a common view. Without a widely shared view of the general technological direction, it isn’t really possible to get down to defining every nut and bolt of the system and move from a laboratory demonstrator to a global standard.
3. Standardization – This step is still far ahead of us, even though ITU-R WP5D, the governing body of the ‘G’s, has already started discussing the process and timing for defining 5G – and 3GPP, the standardization organization responsible for the GSM (2G), UMTS (3G) and LTE/LTE-A (4G) specifications, has indicated interest in working for the 5G standard… when the time is ripe.
So, the big wheel turning towards 5G is in motion and there are a number of organizations and companies around the world jockeying for position. But ultimately, the creation of a successful 5G standard requires adopting the best ideas, no matter where they come from. It is essential to find a common direction through co-operation in requirement setting, technology research and finally in the standardization – and the forums to achieve this are definitely in place. The telecom industry has successfully navigated all the previous ‘G’s and the researchers at Nokia are enthusiastically pushing the boundaries of technology to help 5G excel.
We have more to share on 5G here and topical blogs include:
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*Forums, standards organizations:
3GPP – 3rd Generation Partnership Program; the standardization organization maintaining GSM, UMTS and LTE specifications and is expected to also work on 5G in due time
4G Americas – a trade association supporting the ecosystem of mobile operators and vendors in North, South and Central America, and the Caribbean
5G Forum – a Korean industry forum for co-operation in Technology, Service and Industrialization of 5G Mobile Communication
5G PPP – 5G Public-Private Partnership, European research program as part of Horizon 2020 facilitating joint industry-academia 5G research projects
863-5G – a research frame work for 5G wireless access of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China
ARIB 2020 and Beyond Ad Hoc – a Japanese group providing a platform for industry-academia collaboration in studying 5G service and system concepts, technologies and architectures
Future Forum – a forum for China industry and academia to exchange view of 5G research
IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group – an organization set up by Chinese technology ministries to facilitate industry collaboration and promote 5G activities in China
ITU-R WP5D – the organization under UN that governed the requirements and definition of the 3G and 4G systems and is in discussion of the process for defining what qualifies as 5G
METIS – a European joint industry-academia research project in Framework Program 7 of the EU Commission with the objective to “lay the foundation of 5G”
NGMN – Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance is developing a white paper collecting the network operators’ views and requirements and characteristics of the 5G system
NYU Wireless Industry Affiliates Program – an NYU program for joint research on millimeter-wave communications for 5G
WWRF – the Wireless World Research Forum is the place where the global wireless research community meets to set the future research agenda