No Surprise: 5G Takes Center Stage at MWC

    Mobile World Congress (MWC) is being held this week in Barcelona. The big news, not surprisingly, centers on 5G. The question is whether the announcements are more hype, more substance, or an equal measure of each.

    Nokia unveiled an end-to-end 5G system, according to WirelessWeek. The 5G FIRST platform includes its AirScale and AirFrame technology, Multiple In Multiple Out (MIMO) antennas, Cloud Packet Core and mobile transport. The offering includes services designed to enable 5G implementations in multi-vendor and multi-technology environments. Intel is contributing its architecture and 5G modem.

    Qualcomm, Telstra and Ericsson said that they will jointly run 5G interoperability testing, which, according to Electronics Weekly, will focus on the antenna elements, and include adaptive beamforming, beam tracking and non-line of sight (NLOS) testing.

    Qualcomm also said that it, NTT DOCOMO and Ericsson will conduct 5G interoperability testing and over-the-air trials in Japan on 5G New Radio specifications being developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership (3GPP). The trials will be in the mid-band at 4.5 GHz and millimeter spectrum (mmWave) at 28 GHz.

    ZTE is using the show to release what Silicon Republic says is the first 5G phone. The device, capable of speeds as fast as 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps), will be able to record 360-degree panoramic virtual reality video.

    Other announcements have already been made and more certainly will come before the gavel goes down on MWC. The key questions: Where does it leave 5G? Is it near? Or is this the typical rush of announcements by companies that have made strides and those that want everyone to think they have?

    Network World’s Alan Carlton writes that the industry is indeed moving along, looking at progress in the core and the radio access network (RAN). Carlton’s conclusion is that there is substance in what is happening, though his commentary was written before the conference:

    It is fair to say that some good progress has been made, but there is still a long way to go. Cutting through the 5G hype, 3GPP has just about completed its study phase, but many big decisions are still only on the horizon. 5G will be rolled out in phases, and it is fair to say that Phase 1, which will bring support for some high-priority use cases, is on track, at least in standards, for completion in December 2018.

    It would be interesting to get his take on what is being unveiled. He may well say that there is both progress and hype.

    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 [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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