5G is a far more complex migration than that of 3G to 4G. Is the expectation of its arrival likely to be over-enthusiastic at best and unrealistic at worst?
5G was, like in 2016, a main subject during the World Mobile Congress 2017 in Barcelona. US chip giant Qualcomm announced its stepping up its 5G push to support timely commercial deployments and plans to conduct 5G New Radio (NR) field trials with two tier-1 operators. It will partner with Vodafone group in the UK to test 5G interoperability and conduct an over-the-air field trial based on NR specifications.
N. Peter Kramer
Although mainstream 5G deployment remains many years away, the GSMA Annual Industry Survey 2017 shows that in 2016 substantial work was completed, that will aid further development of it and help to commercialise it. Asked when they expect 5G connectivity to be widely available in the market, more than three quarters of the respondents of the survey (77,8%) expect first commercial deployment of 5G to have happened by the end of 2020. This, perhaps, reflects greater enthusiasm for the new technology than the reality can keep pace with.
In spite of this enthusiasm respondents are aware of the challenges that 5G deployment presents. Asked what they saw as the greatest barrier, the cost of roll-out was selected by nearly 40%. The next most identified barrier was the lack of clarity surrounding 5G use cases. There seems to be a feeling among respondents that too much vagueness exists around what 5G networks will be used for. Simply saying, more speed and throughput being available isn’t enough. The GSMA Survey respondents were 750 operator CEOs and other industry stakeholders.
Mats Granryd, GSMA director-general, said that ‘5G is indeed an opportunity to create an agile, purpose built network tailored to the different needs of citizens and the economy. But it is vital that all stakeholders work together to ensure that 5G is successfully standardised, regulated and brought to market’. In his MWC speech European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip said that ‘5G has the potential to transform how people live, work, play and communicate. He also urged the industry and the EU member states to get more involved in the development of 5G: ‘When 4G came along, Europe was slow to push ahead. We do not want to make the same mistake with 5G’.
5G was, like in 2016, a main subject during the World Mobile Congress 2017 in Barcelona. US chip giant Qualcomm announced its stepping up its 5G push to support timely commercial deployments and plans to conduct 5G New Radio (NR) field trials with two tier-1 operators. It will partner with Vodafone group in the UK to test 5G interoperability and conduct an over-the-air field trial based on NR specifications. Qualcomm will also work with Ericsson and NTT Docomo to conduct interoperability testing and over-the-air field trials in Japan. Nokia unveiled 5G First in an effort to trigger interest in early 5G network deployments. 5G First is an end-to-end technology bundle aimed at operators keen to test and trial the technology.
At the WMC came also some warnings about the future of 5G. Mike Fries, CEO and President of Liberty Global said, 'the commercial deployment of 5G by 2020 is too aggressive, and LTE still has significant headroom'. CEO and Chairman of Orange, Stephane Richard, warned that '5G should not just about the technology and regulatory environment but include all those industries that will be impacted by 5G'.
*Mr. Kramer is a special guest at the Mobile World Congress of Huawei Technologies.
EBR’s Editor-in-chief N. Peter Kramer is among the 100.000 visitors from 200 countries to MWC 2017. The annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is the largest gathering of the mobile industry in the world. This article is part of a series included in EBR's special report "WMC 2017 - The Next Element"