5G challenges ahead — costs and regulation still to be determined: Page 2 of 2

March 16, 2015 // By Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times
A bevy of legal and economic requirements may temper a bit of the excitement around 5G cellular, according to speakers at the Mobile World Congress.
The European commission will invest €700 million in 5G research and development over the next five years with the expectation that industry will match this contribution five times over to total €4.2 billion. During a panel discussion on 5G requirements, Moderator Dan Warren, GSMA director of technology standards, questioned how networks and operators plan to gain real revenue to offset investments.

A continuous flow of software deployment and technical development, which Ewaldsson called an “evolutionary approach,” will be essential in convincing skeptical customers to upgrade and also provide revenue opportunities.

I think many operators and many of my customers are extremely concerned about making any investments for a completely new system, so I think the evolutionary approach is the only one that is viable at the moment. That means that there will be a continuous upgrade and flow, and eventually we will meet those requirements.

Mischa Dohler, professor of wireless communications at King’s College in London, said a significant decrease in capex can be achieved by “making someone else pay for the party.” Markets such as oil and gas that require machine-to-machine communications (a market expected to explode in 5G) are ready to roll out technology that helps connect equipment for better data analysis, he said.

“When you start rolling out [infrastructure] industry by industry, suddenly you kind of crowd-source the deployment,” Dohler said.

Huawei Chief Mobile Officer Yang Chaobin added 5G should be easier to deploy and operate than previous comms generations. Multi-standard radio networks, the backbone of 5G, can operate different technologies on the same frequency. This not only solves issue of compliance, but decreases the burden of paying for new hardware.

An audience member questioned how these multi-industry networks would comply with net neutrality, suggesting that managing traffic on new frequencies could be considered unequal treatment. Ewaldsson said emerging discussions about creating two Internets – one industrial and one “regular”—to differentiate services may solve compliance issues.

Papers and statements from the Federal Communications Commission are not taking into consideration such a development, so I think the industry needs to do better in explaining what are the advantages of what we can offer in 5G and not to be seen as blocking and throttling people’s access to Internet.

Networks are currently not smart enough to support the equivalent of two Internets, said Chaesub Lee, director of standardization bureau ITU. The industry must figure out how to classify traffic beyond broadband and broadcast before it can discuss how to deliver massive data.

“Our treatment of traffic is not a good system or smart enough to support all the business models...That’s a real world problem; these 5G networks should have enough capabilities to provide a smarter way to provide traffic management,” Lee said.

Dohler said the cellular network definitely needs a new generation of technology, not just improvement upon existing standards, because it is “always at the limit”.”

“We’re really after a paradigm shift in orders of magnitude...If you want to achieve this order of magnitude improvement you have to have certain breakthroughs and that will hopefully come through with 5G development,” he said.

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