Wireless technology vendors are preparing for the fifth generation (5G) of mobile communication services. The latest worldwide survey by IHS Markit assessed 5G technologies, market trends and mobile network operator plans for deploying the required infrastructure.
54 percent of the IHS Markit survey respondents see 5G as evolutionary to 4G -- meaning, it's an extension of current Long Term Evolution (LTE), LTE-Advanced and LTE‑Advanced Pro. However, the rest of the survey respondents think 5G is revolutionary, moving away from cellular and requiring a brand new architecture.
Meanwhile, three-quarters of respondents believe that 5G should be codependent with LTE and LTE-Advanced, which suggests the evolutionary camp should have garnered a larger lead.
5G and The Internet of Things
A variety of industries will drive new Internet of Things (IoT) related applications, and consequently 5G networks should be designed to enable vast IoT device connectivity. This explains why IoT was rated as the top use case for 5G by 79 percent of operator respondents -- that's up from 55 percent in last year's study.
This year's 5G survey also clearly indicates that 5G developments are booming and well underway with pre-commercial trials set for 2017 or 2018 and commercial deployments starting in 2020 or later.
Because the 5G standard won’t be available until 2020, this ongoing 5G race is quickly leading to a vendor marketing battle around what 5G truly is, similar to what happened with 4G versus LTE in 2010.
According to the IHS Markit assessment, there is substantial work ahead aimed at defining 5G standards. In fact, in June 2015, the ITU chose IMT-2020 as its official designation of what will one day be standardized as 5G. The ITU-R Working Party 5D of the UN's telco arm finalized its 5G vision and rubber-stamped it as IMT-2020.
5G Market Development Outlook
The next step is to establish detailed technical performance requirements for the radio systems that will support 5G, taking into account a wide portfolio of future scenarios and use cases. The Working Party will then set out its evaluation criteria for how it will assess candidate radio interface technologies.
The IHS Markit survey data suggests a gradually clarifying picture: 4G will not evolve to meet 5G requirements, so 5G requires a new radio access technology (RAT), architecture, etc. All of this means that 4G will continue to evolve in parallel to 5G and won’t be superseded by it.
Meanwhile, one of the other key findings is that ultra-low latency is a primary 5G upgrade driver for the survey participants, as well as their toughest new technology adoption challenge.