The emerging demands on 5G are far more comprehensive than previous generations. As a result, the 5G solution is likely to require a mixture of technologies. The key to 5G will be less a matter of creating a new cellular protocol than the culmination of a process of technological integration that will see the alignment of protocols developed for the telecommunication and local-area networking (LAN) environments, making it possible to take advantage of technologies already available. These can provide key elements of the 5G feature set particularly for situations where the upgrades to cellular communications are most needed: in the high-density, urban environment.
Bandwidth challenges are at their most extreme in the urban environment where the bulk of users will expect to be able to transfer data at high speed. Telecommunications companies are budgeting for downlink speeds on the order of hundreds of megabits, even gigabits per second for urban users.
One of the options being explored for urban communications is to make use of the millimetre-wave (mm-wave) RF spectrum between 10 GHz and 100 GHz. This area of spectrum is not only under-utilised but offers key advantages for high-density, high-speed digital communications. Spectrum in this region offers opportunities for channels with much higher bandwidths than are available in the sub-5 GHz region employed for 2G, 3G and 4G. Bandwidth of up to 9 GHz has already been allocated for the 60 GHz range for use by the WiGig wireless LAN standard.