5G: The race is picking up pace

-February 23, 2016

Telecom providers are vying to be the first to have a working 5G cellphone network or at least a network that is far faster than any in existence today. Although the target date for 5G demos is 2018, it would be prestigious and profitable to be the first one to enable customers to download a full-length movie in seconds instead of the minutes it takes today. That type of speed would catapult the successful telecom provider to forefront of customer’s minds.

The advent Internet of Things (IoT) would be accelerated by feat, satisfying the need for speed that the smart home needs along with the autonomous vehicle market.

Companies like Verizon has already begun early 5G field tests in New York, partnered with Samsung. Tests are evaluating service in moving vehicles as well as smooth hand off for in-building reception. Your cell phone speeds will approach your high-speed home internet access.

Samsung and Fujitsu have been in the hunt as well working together with the University of Surrey in England to achieve mobile internet speeds over 100 times what they are today.

Even Google and Intel have a stake in this. Companies are right now showing their wares at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain. Intel refuses to lose out again like they did in their 4G efforts when they backed WiMAX and lost out to LTE. Qualcomm took a large share of the market for IC solutions at that time. So Intel will be working with the expertise of AT&T, Ericsson, Huawei, Verizon and ZTE. By also working closely with the IEEE and 3GPP standards teams, they are trying to hedge their bets. Of course, they want to sell their ICs into the 5G devices. Aicha Evans, corporate vice-president and general manager of the Intel Communication and Devices Group commented at MWC, “The transition to 5G brings communications and computing together and is a fundamental shift for the industry.”

Ericsson announced at MWC that their 5G radio test-bed trials would start this year, however, the full commercial roll-out 5G would be closer to 2020.

Nokia is promoting their AirScale radio access which can support 5G technologies. 5G radio access will soon be demonstrated on commercial hardware. Operators will be able to launch 5G earlier and at lower cost, and migrate their existing LTE infrastructure to early 5G services in 2017, with full 5G commercial services expected in 2020. Nokia is showing how operators can test 5G in their networks using all spectrum bands, including sub-6 GHz for wide area coverage getting to market early, with cmWave and mmWave.

AT&T is partnering with Ericsson and Intel, with lab tests and then, outdoor tests and trials. A panel at MWC 2016 cited cost as a key factor for success with 5G.

Please share your thoughts regarding this race to 5G.

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