5G radio access
Each decade since mobile communication was introduced in the 1980s, has brought with it a new generation of systems and technologies. The next evolution, 5G radio access, is set for commercialization around 2020, and will deliver 5G services in an environment that is shaping up to be a significant challenge.
One of the hurdles that next generation 5G mobile communication will need to overcome is the predicted levels of traffic – which may be 1,000 times that of today. Another part of the puzzle is the billions of devices that will be connected to networks, some of which may be mission critical. These devices may not generate a significant amount of traffic individually, but together their traffic is significant and their design is lightweight with an emphasis on low-energy consumption. Providing low-cost connectivity for machine-type communication is a key part of 5G radio access.
Next generation 5G radio access will be characterized by integration – backward compatibility with legacy systems, primarily LTE. Here are just a few of the key technologies that will support future demands:
- ultra-lean design – cutting always-on transmission to a bare minimum;
- spectrum flexibility – using unlicensed spectrum, authorized-shared access and unpaired allocations; and
- low latency – by reducing transmission-time intervals.
The main challenges and many key technology components of 5G radio-access have been identified, and research activities will continue for just a few more years before standardization and commercialization begins. This article details the technologies and the overall architecture of 5G radio access.