Work on 5G Starts in Earnest

Carl Weinschenk
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Mobility: How It's Changing Our Lives

LTE is just about deployed and the next iteration, LTE-Advanced, is starting to work its way into the network. Cellular providers and their vendors are nothing if not aggressive, however, and work is starting on the next big step: 5G. The pace is picking up. But much work remains to be done to develop a standard, since the general feeling is that it won’t be implemented until 2020.

CNET reported this week that Ericsson is on the case:

The telecommunications gear maker said Tuesday it had conducted a test that achieved a connection speed of 5 gigabits per second over the air, part of its plans for 5G wireless technology. The bad news: commercial deployment won't actually occur until at least 2020.

To put it in perspective, at 5 Gigabits per second speed, 5G is as much as 250 times faster than LTE today. Such a connection would allow downloading of a 50 GB movie in less than a minute and a half. CNET points out, however, that the theoretical speeds likely won’t be achieved and that a tremendous amount of work remains.

It’s not surprising that Google is getting into the 5G act. In late June, the company bought Alpental Technologies. Alpental, according to FierceWireless, is headed by engineers that are alums of Clearwire. It is working on 5G-related millimeter wave technology, though the details are scarce. The Yonhap News Agency has news about a development deal between Nokia and South Korean carrier SK Telecom. Nokia also is working with Pontifical Catholic University in Brazil

Other moves are also afoot. LightReading has a rundown on what is happening in the quickly developing world of 5G development. ZTE Corporation has proposed a network architecture formulated from dynamic mesh networking. Sprint, according to the story, “has been talking about its 5G vision” and Agilent and China Mobile’s Research Institute have signed a research and development deal.

Patrick Moorhead at Forbes details ongoing work by National Instruments on 5K research that offers more technical insight than information about the deals and startup initiatives that have so far dominated the news.

LightReading writer Ray Le Maistre describes why so much is going on far ahead of when services actually will be deployed. The answer is that a tremendous amount of work needs to be done in a number of different areas and many organizations want their fingerprints on the research and their DNA in the solutions. That is both obvious and illustrative of the massive change that 5G will represent.

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