A 5G Timeline Takes Shape

Carl Weinschenk

A particularly interesting piece of analysis this week came from analyst Chetan Sharma. He began to provide context and a tentative timeline around 5G. Here is a rundown of what he thinks will happen, and other highlights from the week.

Get Ready to Hear a Lot About 5G

The domination of LTE over earlier cellular networks is complete, especially in the United States. The ramp up to 5G is starting, and analyst Chetan Sharma offers a blog post in which he discusses how things may evolve.

One of the keys is the timeline. There now is significant history to look back on. Sharma writes that network technologies evolve in two-decade cycles. On average, it is 12 years from the start to peak (the apex of revenues), and seven years from peak to sunset. That is set within a longer timeframe of how long the technology will be active. Writes Sharma:

So overall, these are big cycles of 25-30 years from initial concepts to the last subscription getting off the network technology. The research work for 5G got started in 2012 and we might have our first networks by 2018-2020.


Building Enterprise Apps

Writing enterprise apps is becoming more popular in the developer community. It’s a big opportunity. Enterprise apps, however, are significantly different from those focused on consumers. They must be more secure, connect with backend databases at a deeper level and have a longer lifespan.

This week, eWeek reports, Microsoft released updates for Outlook apps for iOS and Android aimed at increasing the apps’ attractiveness to business users. The updates incorporate elements of Acompli, which Microsoft acquired on December 1. The idea is to optimize the apps for enterprise use. A key to that is password enforcement for Exchange ActiveSync.

Virtualization and Cellular

The advent of virtualization, according to Computerworld, will have significant upside for wireless carriers. That hasn’t been discussed as much as the advantages to wired networks but, according to the story, will be a topic of conversation at the Mobile World Congress in March in Barcelona. The name of the game is efficiency:

It's good news for mobile users that they may not hear much about. A more efficient network leaves more free capacity for the video or application you want to run, and a more flexible carrier could quickly launch services in the future that you don't even know you'll need yet. The new architectures may even change how some businesses pay for mobile services.

The story details some of the ways in which wireless carriers will virtualize. One way is network functions virtualization (NFV), which is a common emerging approach. The story says that an approach specific to wireless will be cloud radio access networks (C-RANs).

SDNs Must Serve Legacy Infrastructure

Software-defined networks (SDNs) are very promising – and mostly in the future. Lightreading, however, offers a story about the lessons that NTT has already learned about SDN.

Carol Wilson reports on the experiences of Doug Junkins, the CTO of NTT America. Junkins found that legacy data centers, not just newer cloud infrastructure, must be under the SDN umbrella.

SDN

NTT is a bit ahead in the SDN game because it acquired Virtela. This has allowed it to move SDNs to market more quickly. The next step, in a sense, is to bring older infrastructure into the SDN landscape, according to the story:

That data center-wide SDN network will integrate all of NTT's "existing cloud, managed hosting and colocation services, as well as on-demand bare-metal and hosted private cloud services," Junkins says. "This will allow our customers to rapidly provision and augment resources for complex architectures to support mission critical applications."

The Diffusion of Innovation

And, finally, comes a story about where ideas come from. The Washington Post reports on a very interesting bit of research about geographical clustering and innovation.

A paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Mikko Packalen and Stanford University’s Jay Bhattacharya found through a study of the U.S. patent system that during the first half of the 20th century, inventions emerged far more often from large cities than small.

The writers found that this trend began fading in the 1960s and 1970s. The revolution in communications may be bringing more people into the mix:

What's so interesting about that pattern is that it fits the rise of advanced communications technologies, along with a precipitous fall in the cost of talking to someone over long distances. One of the first examples that comes to mind is the Internet, which the researchers say has "made new ideas available more cheaply to all, regardless of where they were developed." But you also can't forget the rise of satellite communications, fiber optics, the fax machine, the cellphone and all manner of other technologies that shrunk distances and made it easier for inventors in small towns to benefit from advantages enjoyed by inventors in large cities.

The diffusion of creativity – as well as the work force in general -- due to mass communications always was thought to be likely, even assumed. The researchers seem to have provided compelling evidence that it indeed is happening.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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