Resources: May 2018

The Role of 4G in Making 5G "Deployment" a Commerical Reality

May 2018

 

The development of 5G standards is steaming ahead with its commercial deployment anticipated in 2019, but what will be deployed and its extent remains anything but clear. Nevertheless, what remains clear is the critical role that LTE will play in realising 5G first-to-market for a handful of operators across the world. LTE-A Pro will be submitted with 5G NR to meet IMT-2020 requirements (ITU Recommendation ITU-R M.2083-0, September 2015).

 

4G-5G Parallel Standards Development

 

4G was developed with absolutely no relationship with 3G resulting in each requiring more or less two separate end-to-end networks. 5G deployment, on the other hand, relies heavily on 4G (5G will initially use EPC - non-stand alone radio). In addition, two of the three top-level use cases of 5G – Enhanced Mobile Broadband, and Massive Machine Communication - have been/are being addressed by the 3GPP LTE Release 13 and beyond.

 

Source: Qualcomm

Source: Qualcomm

5G Challenges – NOT a Technological One

 

5G will be the fifth time in history that mobile operators have gone through a complete overhaul of their networks. But challenges for 5G are enormous in comparison with the other generations. There are political and economic issues in addition to technological ones. Realising 5G deployment technologically is perhaps the least of the problem, it is the economic issues that lead to managing expectations of the commercial deployment of 5G. There is no question that operators are looking very hard at avenues to start with early use cases of 5G to balance what 5G can do and the revenues that it can provide for an early entrance into 5G. As a result, 4G will remain the main anchor of 5G commercial deployment for a foreseeable future.

 

Source: Qualcomm

Source: Qualcomm

What Will 5G Early Deployment Be About?

 

The early deployment of 5G will be to enhance mobile broadband experience and network capacity in form of small cells where is needed; it will not add anything more than what 4G would have otherwise. It is the technological evolution of 5G, investors’ appetite, operators’ business plans, and innovations over and above what 4G is capable of doing which will collectively define a clear dividing line between 5G and 4G, and its ubiquity state.

 

Source: Qualcomm