What are 5G systems for?

5G will enjoy centre stage at Mobile World Congress 2017 with many announcements planned and the sharing of recent milestones such as intense standardization work with 3GPP and ITU-R. This is especially fitting as it was at at Mobile World Congress 2013 that Ericsson shared the first-ever 5G proof-points.

Demonstrating 5G at MWC

Director of Industry Engagements & Research

Director of Industry Engagements & Research

Four years ago, we discussed the following:

  • Rationale of 5G: Massive traffic growth and massive numbers of connected devices - 5O billions at that time – and a diverse range of requirements;
  • Goals and requirements: A few milliseconds end-to-end latency, 10 years of battery life, up to 10 Gbps data rate, 1000 times higher mobile data volumes, and 10-100 times higher number of connected devices;
  • Scope: 5G is inclusive to legacy interfaces such as LTE and unlicensed as WiFi.

Lately, however, voices coming from outside the telecom industries assume that 5G is a pure replacement of 4G (and yet a new classical cellular network) that will provide telecommunication solutions for any vertical industry. As we explain in the white paper, 5G systems – enabling the transformation of industry and society, 5G is actually base infrastructure designed to connect any applications or any sector of the economy in a flexible and modular manner depending of the requirements of that sector - in partnership with vertical industries when required. The connection to a sector or a vertical industry can be done on various levels (from application to lower layers) depending of the capabilities and desired functionalities (for example management, operational, control and spectrum ownership).

Moreover, the rationale for 5G development is not only to expand the broadband capability of mobile networks, but also to provide specific capabilities for consumers, various industries and society at large, not least making possible the Internet of Things.

In contrast to previous generations which were telecom/cellular centric with radio access and transport being the bedrock of the network, the main domains of the 5G system are wider and includes wireless and wired access, transport, cloud, applications, and management including orchestration.

The example of a 5G system shown below will be built on ‘flexible’ access nodes, distributed and centralized data centers, allowing for flexible allocation of workloads. These nodes and data centers are connected via programmable transport networks. All applications, including many network applications, are run on top of a cloud with exception of dedicated functions in the access nodes. The applications can be centralized or distributed, depending on the requirements.

The 5G journey has already started with NB-IoT, NFV and management automation. 5G represents an incremental process, enhancing the current network step by step. As the process unfolds, global partnerships and alliances – such as between telecom, IT, OT and major sectors such as automotive, utilities and manufacturing – will prove essential to enabling cross-industry engagement in defining and building 5G systems.

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