TIA Report: To Succeed, 5G Must Be a Chameleon

Posted by Mae Kowalke on Thursday, May 11, 2017 with No comments

To achieve its goals, 5G must be a chameleon technology by adapting to support a variety of wireless services with different bandwidth, latency, traffic burstability, and reliability requirements. That’s the overarching conclusion reached in a Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) report, published this past January.

The report, prepared by Phil Marshall, Chief Research Officer, Tolaga Research, on behalf of TIA, is based on a survey that asked communication network operator executives—representing companies in Europe, Asia and Oceania, North America, Latin America, and Africa— about their current and future 5G strategies.

Below is a summary of conclusions drawn from the survey results. Read the full report for a more in-depth look at these topics.

5G technology trials are already underway, despite the standardization process not yet being complete. Thirty-two percent of respondents have already started such trials, and another 26 percent plan to in the next 24 months.

5G radio technology trials are happening first, before core network technologies. More than two-thirds of respondents said they are focusing on radio tech first. (Core network efforts are focused on NFV and SDN—precursors to 5G.)

Pre-standard 5G products are on the horizon. Almost a third of respondents have plans to introduce such products. This is mainly happening in certain markets, namely Australia, China, Japan, Korea, and the U.S.

5G will become part of operator capex budgets by end of 2020. Almost half of respondents indicated this is their strategy. But, 5G capex will ramp more slowly than 4G, with operators focusing on targeted 5G deployments for several years rather than large-scale network rollouts.

5G commercial services will be rolled out first in mature markets, and this will happen soon. Thirty-three percent of respondents expect their companies to start offering 5G services by end of 2020.

Lack of partner diversity is likely to challenge 5G network densification efforts. Most respondents said they planned to partner with building owners, electrical utilities, and public lighting companies or densification efforts. Fewer than 40 percent identified alternative partners.

Diverse offload strategies are being leveraged for unlicensed spectrum, with operator approaches to LTE-U and Wi-Fi being influenced by legacy systems, market conditions, and competition.

Fiber is the mostly highly ranked transport technology for 5G, but millimeter wave comes in second place. Technology advancements for millimeter wave access is expected to help overcome line-of-sight alignment challenges.

It’s not yet clear how 5G will transform use cases. For example, forty-three percent of respondents were not optimistic or uncertain about 5G’s potential to transform enhanced broadband services, and only 30 percent thought machine-type communications will be significantly transformed by 5G. Still, in the long term, 5G’s transformative effect is very likely to exceed expectations.

5G security is a significant concern, but to what degree it will be an issues varies by use case. For example, respondents expressed more concern about securing 5G services for autonomous vehicles, and somewhat less about massive machine-type communications.

Optimism remains high about network slicing
and its potential to create revenue-generating opportunities and make network efficient. To be effective, though, slicing requires business and operational support system upgrades.

Operators expect autonomous vehicles to be a significant application for 5G, with 70 percent of respondents identifying this as an important use case.

5G-enabled telemedicine is likely to be most promising in remote regions and emerging markets, where regulations and safety concerns may not be as big an obstacle and where basic healthcare services are lacking. 5G for healthcare will require both high-capacity and low-latency connectivity.

5G will play a key role in the industrial IoT market
, fueling unprecedented connections densities and latency demands.


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