The official standards process may not have begun, but 5G is a very real issue for most mobile operators already. After all, the first deployments could be as little as five years away, which in an MNO’s planning, is just around the corner.
In that context, one of the sessions to be held next week at the Small Cell Forum’s Champions’ Day will be particularly essential for anyone trying to make sense of 5G and how it relates to real world business cases.
Focused on 5G and IoT (Internet of Things), it will feature a speaker who can provide deeper insights than almost anyone into the mysteries of 5G, and what next generation platforms will really mean to the mobile business.
Dr Werner Mohr is chair of the European Union’s 5G PPP (Public Private Partnership), launched in December 2013 to support and coordinate R&D efforts in this area across Europe. The initiative has a budget of about €250 million to support a score of projects involving a large number of vendors, operators and academic institutions, including the recently announced NORMA. It is also working closely with similar efforts around the world, and with industry associations such as the Small Cell Forum.
At this stage, such initiatives are essential to feed real world requirements into the standards process and to provide an open forum for innovations and ideas from every corner of the industry. The Small Cell Forum has already committed to taking a proactive role in this global discussion – in particular, it has strong experience of distilling operator requirements into real world roadmaps, and of course, one of the points of consensus about 5G is that it will be heavily driven by ever-smaller cells, especially in the IoT.
Dr Mohr will discuss the role that the Forum will play in defining 5G and contributing to future standards work, and will also focus on how the platform will be a key enabler for the IoT – already developing rapidly with current wireless standards and projects like Huawei’s 4.5G – to reach its full potential.
He is a firm believer that one imperative for 5G is almost infinite flexibility. Gone are the days of voice and text – operators already need a wide range of business cases to justify their huge network investments, and with 5G, they aim to be able to support many more, some of them hardly thought about yet and many of them IoT-related. Speaking at the launch of the NORMA project, which is focused on radio architecture, he said: “5G is not only about new radio access technology, network architecture will play an important role as well. 5G networks will have to be programmable, software driven and managed holistically to enable a diverse range of services in a profitable way.”
This is where the Small Cell Forum has a wealth of expertise to contribute to turning such complex ideas into working platforms, and attendees at this session will gain unique insights into some of the early thinking in these areas.
Huawei and Reliance Jio of India are championing the session and executives from both companies will take part in the panel debate. Huawei has been setting the pace in developing technologies that provide a bridge between current 4G standards and future platforms, and which are optimised for the requirements of IoT, such as ultra-low latency and power consumption, and extreme network density, which have already been identified as important goals of 5G. Its will discuss IoT use cases during the session, linking 5G R&D firmly to real commercial opportunities for operators.
Reliance Jio is one of the world’s newest mobile operators, and will soon launch its 4G services in India. As a 4G-only provider, it has an ambitious roll-out programme, and also has the rare ability, for a large MNO, to think like a greenfield company. It will be planning around new use cases from day one, as it seeks to identify gaps in the market, and even while it is still putting the final touches to its LTE networks, it is already asking what 5G will mean to its business – and will discuss some of its conclusions during the panel.
This line-up of participants makes this session unmissable for anyone who is starting to think about 5G and how it will impact on network planning and business models in the not-so-distant future.