Trending: 3 Signs That Early 5G Will Be Here Soon

Posted by Mae Kowalke on Saturday, January 21, 2017 with No comments

What is 5G and when will it "arrive"? Those are unanswerable questions, at least for now. But, there are signs that early 5Gwhatever it turns out to bewill make its presence known sooner than later. As proof-in-point, here are three examples from telecom news articles in the past week or so that paint a picture of 5G's imminent emergence.

1. Predicted Economic Value of 5G Recognized

Qualcomm Technologies' new study, The 5G Economy, posits that 5G will profoundly affect the global economy, impacting a range of industries globally, including retail, education, transportation, entertainmentand producing up to $12.3 trillion worth of goods and services by 2035.

The report concludes that business decision-makers in tech and other industries believe in the transformational nature of 5G, as a means to advance mobile from technology that connects people to each other, to a unified fabric connecting people to everything. In 2035, Qualcomm predicted, the 5G value chain itself will generate up to $3.5 trillion in revenue and support as many as 22 million jobs, boosting real global GDP growth by $3 trillion cumulatively from 2020 to 2035.

Qualcomm's report, noted Sue Marek, VP of Content and Editor in Chief at SDxCentral, didn't go into great detail about the specific nature of 5G-related jobs this technology is predicted to create, because 5G will create new business models affecting all areas of industry "including public safety, cybersecurity, privacy, public infrastructure, healthcare, and education." 

SDxCentral also noted a related report from Accenture (commissioned by CTIA) that concluded U.S. operators will invest $275 billion in 5G, with $93 billion of that going toward construction, a sign that operators are giving more than lip service to the potential ROI of 5G. 

2. Debate Continues Over Wi-Fi vs. 5G

In an RCR Wireless News Analyst Angle article, Wireless 460 managing director Adlane Fellah argued that there's a false debate going on fueled by 5G skeptics who claim the availability of Wi-Fi renders the next generation of mobile telecom not that important. 

"I am a big fan of Wi-Fi," Fellah said in the article, "but I don't share the over-simplified arguments about 5G of old-fashioned Wi-Fi vs. Third Generation Partnership Project." The arguments about Wi-Fi vs cellular or Wi-Fi making 5G unnecessary are quite narrow and often reflect commercial interests of certain vendors or operators, rather than a big technology picture."

Fellah concluded: "I believe this broad new architecture is what is really important, whether it should be labelled 5G or not."

Claus Hetting, host of Wi-Fi Now and CEO of Hetting Consulting, had a different perspective in another RCR Wireless News Analyst Angle article. 

"Cellular has served us extremely well for the past 20 or 30 years," Hetting said in the article. "The looming question is whether 5G will continue to serve us well given that other wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi have grown enormously in the past 10 years."

He said there are two reasons for Wi-Fi's success: cost and unlicensed spectrum sharing. These are factors that must be considered for 5G.

"To be successful – or even just viable – 5G needs to rethink its fundamentals and learn from Wi-Fi," Hetting concluded.

Whether you agree with Fellah or Hetting, or fall somewhere in the middle, there's a bigger point here: the fact that people are debating the merits of Wi-Fi vs. 5G for the future of connected communications means both matter and will likely play a role in telecom for many years to come.

3. 5G Poised to Enter Production Trials

Light Reading mobile editor Dan Jones recently interviewed Nokia's North American CTO, Michael Murphy, and reported that he predicted early 5G will transform from prototype to early production during 2017 and soon after, as carriers roll out 'iconic projects' involving trials with actual users and something more than just minimum infrastructure. 

What kind of projects? Oh, like Verizon's fixed wireless user trials, and Korea Telecom's expected 5G deployment at the Winter Olympics in 2018. 

Other examples of early 5G taking shape:

  • Qualcomm Technologies plans to conduct interoperability tests and over-the-air field trials based on in-development 3GPP 5G New Radio standards.
  • AT&T is moving ahead with shut down of its 2G network, allowing the carrier to refarm spectrum toward LTE and 5G.
  • Ericsson completed its first 5G technology trial in Turkey, achieving 22 gigabits per second transmission speeds.
  • In the past couple months, the 5G Automotive Association doubled its membership base, which now includes automakers, technology vendors, and wireless operators. The organization is preparing for cellular-vehicle-to-everything standard trials toward its vision for 5G that includes vehicle-to-vehicle, pedestrian-to-vehicle, and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity. 

5G or Bust?

What signs do you see of 5G's influence on the telecom industry? (Or its development struggles and growing pains?) Drop a comment below.

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