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Will 5G Deliver on Time?
September 30, 2016 | By Barkan Ersoy @ Vodafone UK
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We are pleased to share with you all an interesting article contributed by Barkan Ersoy. 


Barkan Ersoy

Senior Traffic & Performance Modelling Engineer 

at Vodafone UK


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The term “5G” is rapidly coming into the focus of attention and the telecoms industry is on the way to defining a new set of standards for the 5G systems. Most of the early hype is mainly associated with the “bandwidth-thirst” of the Telecom ecosystem as we can understand from the pilot projects, live network tests at the gigabit level and massive MIMO deployments in more progressive cities.
But we can also anticipate that the pillars like ultra reliable / low-latency communication, better capacity handling in dense areas, more intelligent coverage for concepts like M2M and virtualisation due to the cost pressure etc. will also likely move forward together with 5G. However the 5G has quite ambitious time scales and deadlines. In this article I will try to go through what exactly these deadlines are and whether it is likely that these will be met.
Looking at the current landscape, it would be fair to say that there are countries like the US, South Korea (for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics) and Japan (for the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics) who are more excited about the 5G opportunities from the ultra broadband and bigger bandwidth perspective.
While Europe so far has been more interested in the IoT applications, cloud RAN and the narrow-band radio technology. So potentially the commercial priorities and the demand will be quite different in different parts of the world for 5G.
So this will surely have an influence on the vendors’ and operators’ motivation and expectations for 5G’s extremely complex and essential standardization process.
On top of that, we know that the main objective of 5G is to be the technology that embraces all the different industrial sectors from health to automotive. However, we also know that the languages that are being spoken by different sectors are not necessarily the same with the one spoken in Telecoms.
They all have very particular ways of expressing their requirements. Even within one country, different water companies or gas companies can express the needs in a different way. So the challenge here is to somehow collect them all, translate into technological terms and rationalize in a very simple set. (There are still plenty of concerns and misunderstandings / misconceptions from these vertical industries about 5G.)
Customizing a technology like 5G for each sector to meet different demands separately will never be economically viable and will require a lot more years that the current time scales.
What is really critical today is to create a truly accepted global ecosystem and the common worldwide framework for 5G covering also the LTE and the others like Wi-Fi and the rest of the licensed spectrum.
At this point, the obvious question would be that if there will be many use cases which are still not completely well defined and priorities that differ in different parts of the world, will that even be possible to achieve the target that the 5G has set out to achieve?
To answer this question, it would be important to understand whether everything is on track looking form the 3GPP perspective. Because for the production of the technical standardization of 5G, 3GPP is the organization who is directly responsible to perform the hard work -in a collaborative fashion- with different member organizations like ETSI (The European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and its equivalents in different continents like CCSA for China and ATIS for the US. The results of this work would then be transmitted back to these organizations to publish them as “global standards”.
These organizations not only publish them but also determine the general policy and the strategy of 3GPP. So they do have an extremely important influence on the discussions during releases. And there are also the Market representation partners like GSMA, UMTS-Forum etc and these take part in 3GPP mainly to offer a market advice and bring 3GPP into a consensus view of market requirements. But they do not have the authority to define or publish any standards locally or globally.
So as of today, we do know that the Release-16 freeze is by March 2020. That is the date the 3GPP are aiming to have a fully functional and capable system meeting all the requirements. However the emerging consensus has been to have 3GPP to release and early version of the 5G specification, not addressing all the capabilities but addressing more urgent market needs.
For that the 3GPP has been planning and earlier release in mid-2018 addressing a subset of the use cases and requirements. The reason for this early release that would give us sort of the “BETA version” of 5G from the global perspective is the necessity to come up with a fully flexible and capable architecture to host all the use cases the will eventually be addressed by 2020. So that more capability can be added in an optimal way and be forward compatible at the core.
The latest 3GPP news is that during the last plenary of the Technical Specifications Groups, a detailed work plan for Release-15 has been agreed (the first release of 5G specifications). And this plan includes a set of tasks and milestones to move forward the ongoing studies which means that the way for the "normative" specification work is cleared.
The study was started in 2015 with 70 different use cases. Now all of these use cases are categorized and titled into 4 different groups of technical reports. Massive IoT, Critical Communications, Enhanced Mobile Broadband and Network Operations.
Now the 3GPP is starting to consolidate these four into a single Technical Specification. The draft version is expected to be available in December 2016 and be approved in March 2017. So these news show us that there is certainly an acceleration and a clear progress. Although, it is still soon speculate on how early introduction of the 2020 “ready system” will be made.
We have seen in the LTE case that some players in the markets had been more ambitious and performed an earlier deployment which resulted in not homogeneous but fragmented availability of the technology. That is why, sticking to a common standard and involving both the verticals (different sectors) and the regulatory framework will ensure the 5G will be more inclined to achieve something for more than 5 years after 2020.
Emerging 5G business models will need a stronger engagement with the verticals in the standards process, the pilot projects and trials. This is going to be the key for not only the ultra broadband use cases but also the low latency communications that some sectors will require and also the massive IoT deployments (if NB-IoT plays out).
Only with this engagement, 5G will act as an “innovation engine” bringing disruptive change in many industries and societies by creating more efficient services, better technology experience and improved safety in everyday life.





Edmund 2016-09-30 18:33:42

Excellent article! Exciting time soon for telecommunication space.

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