Defining 5G at the ETSI Future Mobile Summit

Work of art?

Work of art?

The ETSI Future Mobile Summit was held in Mandelieu near Cannes on November 21st. The program included quite a breadth of speakers from academia, industry and ETSI, the standards organization itself. The audience, some 160 strong, consisted mainly of ETSI delegates.

Several of the university speakers Rahim Tafazolli (head of the 5G Innovation Center 5GIC at Uni Surrey) and Hans Schotten (Uni Kaiserslautern) as well as Nigel Jeffries from WWRF listed a number of characteristics of 5G systems, thats sets them aside from what can be achieved by extrapolating 4G/LTE. We have heard them before, but it think I now see a convergence in new requirements:

  • Very dense deployment for very high capacity – Tafazolli remarked that LTE is, from a technical perspective not really suited for this requirement. He also stressed that it is the user experienced data rate that matters, not the average capacity in the area.
  • Very low latency for remote control, ”human in the loop” discussed by Hans Schotten and Gerhard Fettweis (<10ms delay, <1ms in the air interface). The problem here seems more to be the speed of light – if one tries to remote control anything more than 1500 km away, the roundtrip delay will be exceeded and some kind of fine-grain autonomous control needs to step in.
  • 50B devices – Internet of things. Yes, they will be many of them which challenges the capability of future systems to properly address the devices, but this is hardly a capacity questions.
  • Very high reliablity networks (99.999% availabilty). To me, a hopeless task – for a single system. Redundancy is the solution for this. Redundancy in the rural domain is however very expensive to achieve.

Notably moving networks is not one of these key requirement, although Afif Osseiran mentioned these as one of the METIS scenarios. Obviously, this is a scenario that can be solved by extrapolation of existing technology(?).

Yours truly presented at talk entitled “Spectrum for 5G – a big deal?”, on the divided world where we have a ”coverage world” (evolution of traditional cellular) where coverage, any-time any-where is premium, and the capacity world (indoor short-range), where high data rates are provided for a dense user population at low cost. The spectrum solution has very different solutions in these two cases. Indoor there is plenty of potential spectrum above 3 GHz allowing for huge traffic capacities. In the coverage world, there will be continued demand for spectrum, mainly to make the wide-area services more affordable as traffic grows. The talk was well received with plenty of questions and discussion.

The commission representative, Mario Campolargo (Director, Net Futures, DG Connect) forsees that the main research phase for 5G is 2014-2016 and that there will be a general consensus in the 5G-PPP (Public Private Partnership) to be formed next month) about what 5G and what roads to pursue by end 2015.

Link to all presentations


About Jens Zander

Professor Jens Zander is professor in Radio Communication Systems at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. He has been among the few in Swedens Ny Teknik magazine's annual list of influential people in ICT that have been given the epithet “Mobile Guru”. He is one of the leading researchers in mobile communication and is the Scientific director of the industry/academia collaboration center Wireless@KTH. His research group focuses on three main areas – the efficient and scalable use of the radio frequency spectrum, economic aspects of mobile systems and application and energy efficiency in future wireless infrastructures.
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