5G mobile technology lessons from MWC 2016

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The ongoing Mobile World Congress (MWC 2016) saw several announcements on 5G technology from key telecom network vendors and operators.

The focus on 5G mobile does not mean that telecoms are not making investments in 4G LTE network to boost their data revenue. LTE connections in North America reached 219 million out of the total 431 million mobile connections in Q3 2015, according to 4G Americas.

The strategy of telecoms towards making investment in 5G stems from the fact enterprises will bring significant revenue streams from IoT business.

Despite earlier trials by North American and Asian telecoms, Ericsson Mobility Report is not painting a bright picture for 5G saying that the number of 5G mobile subscriptions will touch 150 million by 2021. The year 2021 will be the first full year for the commercialization of 5G globally.

A recent report from GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) predicts that there will be more than 270 5G networks by 2025. There are no statistics available on the investment required towards for building the telecom infrastructure for 5G. Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri says the industry is expected to sign 5G deals from 2017.

5G @ MWC 2016

Chipset maker Intel announced several partnerships with ICT and products for 5G wireless networks of global telecoms.

At MWC 2016, Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson, which is transforming as an ICT player, made announcements in 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud.

“Ericsson is on a transformation journey. Today, 66 percent of our business comes from software and services; just years ago the majority was hardware. The majority of our principal competitors are ICT players, rather than telecom businesses,” Vestberg said.

Ericsson says 50 billion connected devices will be supported by three key pillars: broadband, mobility and cloud. Ericsson has agreements with 20 major telecom operators to work together on 5G. It will start 5G radio test-bed field trials in 2016.

5G speed trials

Several telecom operators have taken a lead in 5G trials at a time when Huawei predicts deployment of 60 commercial 4.5G networks worldwide in 2016.

SK Telecom and Nokia demonstrated live 20.5 Gbps transmission speed over the air meeting the performance requirement of 5G set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Ericsson 5G field trial gear achieved peak downlink throughput over 25 Gbps with MU-MIMO. Its 5G Radio Prototypes use MU-MIMO and beam tracking to deliver more than 25 Gbps throughput.

NTT DOCOMO and Korea Telecom were part of Ericsson 5G innovations for telecom operator field trials.

Verizon and its partners are conducting 5G field tests. Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, and Qualcomm are the 5G partners of Verizon.

Adam Koeppe, vice president – Network Technology Planning, Verizon, said: “We are collaborating with our peer operators in the Asian markets as we are aligned towards deploying 5G technology in 2017.”

Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hottges said: “The convergence of fixed and mobile networks is the foundation of Deutsche Telekom’s integrated network strategy.”

“We are setting new milestones with the development of 5G, our European Pan-Net and a new network company for global corporations,” said Tim Hottges. Deutsche Telekom invested 12 billion euros in expanding its networks in 2015.

Deutsche Telekom says its 5G demo at MWC 2016 shows latency or response time of less than one millisecond. The German technology major says this is a technical record, and an important step for enabling real-time applications, such as driverless cars, remote surgical procedures and even high-performance games.

Claudia Nemat, member of the Deutsche Telekom Board of Management, Europe and Technology, said: “5G mobile technology will address customer requirements more individually. While one person may primarily require high data transfer rates, the other might favor minimal latency or low-energy mass applications.”

Deutsche Telekom is exhibiting extreme bandwidth performance in the 5G network. It raises data throughput in a mobile connection to a smartphone prototype to more than 1.5 gigabits per second. In the future, such data rates will be necessary particularly for TV and virtual reality applications.

China Mobile and Nokia Networks demonstrate 5G-enabled synchronized collaboration of robots at Mobile World Congress 2016. 5G networks will help to create automated production systems and increase overall manufacturing and logistics productivity.

NTT DOCOMO and Ericsson achieved a cumulative 20Gbps of data throughput in an outdoor environment using the 15GHz frequency band with two simultaneously connected mobile devices of  a downlink bit rate of over 10Gbps each, on February 21.

Ooredoo has demonstrated 5G technology, offering significantly faster data speeds and ultra-low latency, enabling a host of enhanced Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.

Devices maker LG Electronics and chip cendor Intel are collaborating to develop and pilot 5G-based telematics technology, the next generation of wireless technology for cars.

5G telematics delivers data more than 33 times faster than 4G LTE with latency expected to drop to about one tenth of current speeds. Powered by V2X technology, 5G’s reduced latency is possible even when cars are travelling at high speeds and prevent accidents.

LG is the first technology company to supply telematics products that rely on LTE connectivity instead of older 2G or 3G based networks.

“By working with Intel we hope to build LG’s next generation of 5G telematics products,” said Kim Jin-yong, President of LG Electronics’ Vehicle Components In-Vehicle Infotainment Business Unit.

NTT DOCOMO has agreed with MediaTek of Taiwan to develop and conduct 5G trials.

Pre-5G products

ZTE launched its new access layer product, ZXCTN 608, oriented to Pre5G backhaul bearing at MWC. ZTE said its new solution allows the network to control SDN / NFV architecture easily.

NEC launched iPASOLINK EX, a radio communication system that achieves wireless transmission capacity of 10Gbps. This transmission capacity is equivalent to that of optical fibers, making the new product ideal for use in mobile backhaul networks for mobile services, such as LTE-Advanced and 5G.

At MWC, Ceragon Networks showcased its 5G wireless backhaul technologies. Ceragon Networks is developing technologies to meet the need for 100 times higher capacity at cell sites, at least five times denser cell-site grids.

Testing solutions 

Wireless testing solutions vendors Viavi Solutions, Keysight Technologies, Anritsu, Spirent Communications and Rohde & Schwarz are also active in the global 5G space.

Anritsu showed its capabilities supporting the development of 5G networks across the spectrum of network architecture, air interface, network access and service assurance.

Spirent Communications recently announced the world’s first 2.5G and 5G BASE-T Ethernet test solution.

Viavi Solutions (earlier known as JDSU) the telecom industry’s first 10 Gbps Ethernet Microprobe in the SFP+ form factor, with embedded application awareness, anticipates the significantly higher transport and backhaul speeds required to implement 5G networks.

Viavi Solutions CTO Sameh Yamany said: “While we have an eye on the future with 5G, we are equally focused on providing our customers with solutions that can improve the subscriber experience and affect their top and bottom lines in the present.”

Rohde & Schwarz has showcased its role in 5G development with three different test setups: 5G and WLAN signals with bandwidths up to 2 GHz, generation and analysis of 5G air interface candidates and 5G channel sounding.

Keysight Technologies (earlier part of Agilent) showcased its 5G millimeter-wave waveform generation and analysis, 5G channel sounding, 5G beamforming, and IEEE 802.11ad device testing design and test tools.

India is far behind in discussing 5G technology. Hope Indian telecoms will gain substantially because the country will be investing in 5G at a time when devices and networks are cheap for procurement.

Baburajan K
editor@telecomlead.com