TRAI is silent about 5G mobile technology: why?

5G network
Indian telecom regulator TRAI is still silent about 5G mobile technology for the country. The U.S., U.K. and several Asian countries are going ahead with 5G regulation to utilize the opportunity.

5G has the potential to boost IoT demand. 5G commercial services are expected to launch in 2020. There will be about 24 million 5G subscriptions worldwide at the end of 2021 for mobile and fixed broadband services.

5G will be mainly used in enhanced mobile broadband services, though fixed broadband services will also be supported, especially in the U.S., offering support to Internet of Things and communications, which may not be supported by standardized 5G services through 2021, convey analysts.

With technologies like 5G and LTE networks on the go, telecoms will be investing less in 3G and 2G as they will become outdated.

4G, with 1.1 billion connections in 2016, will also grow to support 1.9 billion connections by the end of the year, while growing to 5.6 billion by the end of 2022, having a share of 62 percent of all user-linked wireless subscriptions.

4G will move ahead of 3G technology in revenue generation this year, summing to 49 percent of revenue from a 25 percent share of year-end subscriptions, according to a new forecast from Strategy Analytics Wireless Operator Strategies service. Also, 4G revenue growth will be offset by a 21 percent decline in 2G service revenue and 19 percent decline in 3G revenue in 2016.

It is estimated thatĀ in the next few years continued decline of 2G and 3G will grow in many markets but 5G will generate new use cases and market revenues.

Indian telecom operators such as BSNL, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Jio, Vodafone, Reliance Communications and Telenor have limited 4G presence. Since these telecoms are in the process of expanding 4G network, India may take more time to start investing in 5G, analysts say.

Analysts are warning that delay in 5G regulation and discussions around spectrum allocation for 5G will impact the 5G business of Indian telecoms.
Chart showing 5G growth

Nation-wise Development and Figures

5G services will span more than 20 markets worldwide by the end of 2021, offering services in all four major world regions, conveyed Ovum research estimates.

Reports have suggested that the vast majority of 5G subscriptions will be concentrated in the US, Japan, China, and South Korea, where major operators have revealed highly paced timelines for launching 5G services.

Worldwide, all major operators have announced plans to launch 5G services before 2020, which though may not necessarily meet all 3GPP 5G standards pending finalization in 2018, will fulfill many speed and QoS related parameters.

North America and Asia are to individually account for more than 40 percent of global 5G subscriptions at the end of 2021, followed by Europe with more than 10 percent of subscriptions, with the Middle East and Africa accounting for the remainder.

FCC promoted the next generation of wireless services as a move towards 5G, making U.S. the first nation to allocate a wide range of airwaves to deliver super-fast 5G access. The regulator auctioned a large amount of spectrum to wireless companies while allowing more open or shared uses of the rest to achieve the regulatory environment in the existing fourth-generation networks.

Mobile broadband operators are to reap 5G revenues of $247 billion in 2025 with North America, Asia-Pacific, and Western Europe being the top markets with network operators, vendors, and standards bodies finalizing technical details by 2020.

Mobile operators in North America and Asia-Pacific have announced projects and plans to roll out 5G initiatives.

Recently, Verizon, NTT Docomo, KT, and SK Telecom formed the 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance. Also, Verizon Wireless acquired XO Communications fiber network business to allow strategic access to licensed millimeter wave spectrum for 5G deployment.

US, Japan, and South Korea market will source majority of revenue from 4G LTE services with China also offering a significant contribution. China will go over USA to top the 4G market in Q3 2015, with over half of the former 2016 revenue sourced to 4G LTE.

US and NSF also announced the Advanced Wireless Research Initiative (AWRI), a $400 million government-funded seven-year project aimed at developing 5G.

The National Science Foundation will lead a project with carriers including AT&T and Verizon along with HTC, Intel, Oracle, Nokia, and Samsung participating. AWRI follows the FCC Spectrum Frontiers initiative and will use four city-scale testing platforms.

Independently, Verizon is set to launch its own 5G trial network in the U.S. from 2017 with a long term offer to support its mobile service Go90.

Japan is at the forefront of 5G, with Telco NTT already performing tests in partnership with Huawei, with expectations to have the general public using 5G in 2021, according to Futuresource Consulting.

In a move to promote 5G, the Europe government formed the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership to join the European industrial ability to compete on the global stage.

Launched by the EU Commission, the PPP has assorted manufacturers, telcos, service providers, SMEs, and researchers on board.

Separately, telcos including BT, Nokia, Hutchison, Telefonica, Orange, Vodafone, and Deutsche Telekom signed a manifesto pledging to launch a 5G network in every country within the EU by 2020.

4G share of 2016 service revenue will range from 10 percent in Middle East & Africa to 79 percent in North America, with Japan at 82 percent and South Korea at 90 percent, being at a higher level.

5G services will begin in a small number of markets in 2020, mainly in the USA and advanced Asian markets. User linked 5G connections will grow from 2 million in 2020 to 116 million in 2022, with modems and routers triggering volume.

5G: Requirements and Limitations

The requirements for 5G are almost agreed upon, with clocking regular mobile data speeds over 1 gigabits per second (Gbps), 100 times faster than current 4G LTE networks with peaks of 10Gbps being the preliminary clause.

Also, developments like smart antenna technology can extend coverage reach, encouraging small cells deployment which will aid further in 5G development. 8.5 million small cells will be deployed by 2020, creating the infrastructure for a 5G millimeter wave roll-out. Also, in-band back-haul can be used to get rid of connectivity issues.

As infrastructure vendors and mobile operators prepare for the future of 5G, issues like spectrum fragmentation, standards development, coverage range, availability of devices, and CAPEX/OPEX, and the development of use cases that ensure profitable outcomes from the unique competitive advantages of 5G are slowing the pace of the development.

Spectrum harmonization is an integral part for 5G development including unlicensed and shared spectrum schemes, with global government organization coordination essential to regulate the 5G spectrum and set the new standard.

5G Applications

During early stage of deployment, 5G will be used for enhanced mobile broadband, then trailed by critical and massive machine type communications.

5G will enable new applications and use cases for sectors like cloud-enabled robotics and intelligent transportation that can benefit people, business and society therefore realizing the full potential of an interconnected society, with Smart City, IoT and similar developments completely depending on it.

By 2025, 67 million automotive 5G vehicle subscriptions will be active out of which three million will be low latency connections intended for autonomous and driver-less cars. Also, connectivity in autonomous vehicles can aid broadband multimedia streaming, cloud services for vehicle life-cycle management, the capturing and uploading of huge volumes of sensor data, and cooperative mobility through V2X (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure) communication, all of which require 5G, with the low latency feature supporting the industry.

5G will lead to exploring services, use cases and business models, both deployed today and upcoming ones. Both service providers and transformation to new services and business models will be enabled with ease with this fifth generation network.

Vina Krishnan
[email protected]