5G: Getting There

With the recently accelerated timeline for the 5G NR standard, getting the next generation of mobile off the ground quickly seems to have taken on a new urgency. Many questions abound. Where exactly is 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) headed next? How will 5G change the landscape of global computing?And, beyond the hype of 5G, what solutions are available now to help mobile operators deal with increasing pressure on their networks from video content traffic? Following is a look at the latest thinking around 5G, from recent telecom news articles. 

Roughly a third of mobile operators expect to be offering some kind of 5G service by 2020, but two main hurdles stand in the way, said RCR Wireless News in a recent article, citing conclusions from a US Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) report. Those hurdles are: lack of diversity in 5G network densification, and lack of consensus on how to handle unlicensed spectrum.

That second point may be especially important from a business model sustainability model. Consider, as Light Reading News Editor Iain Morris did in a recent article, that the mobile industry’s investment in 3G spectrum never paid off, and that significant payoff from 4G continues to be elusive. It stands to reason that, although 5G could be a significant revenue-growth opportunity for operators, investing in and deploying this technology is likely to be a drawn-out, painful process. 

For these and other reasons, Morris predicted, “the next-generation network technology is facing an uphill marathon rather than a downhill sprint.” 

That marathon is winnable, but it does require rethinking networks, RCR Wireless quoted 
Houman Modarres, head of product marketing for Nokia’s IP portfolio, as saying. That especially applies to “how we share networks between fixed and wireless, between licensed and unlicensed and shared, different hybrid and multi-access technology,” and means successfully managing the resulting complexity requires using NFV- and SDN-based automation. 

Oh, is that all it’ll take?

All joking aside, it’s clear that 5G is both inevitable and also will take some pretty heavy lifting, and careful thought, to be successful. How do you see things playing out? Leave a comment below.