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Dec 15 2016

5G operator survey reveals who’s leading and what’s hot

Twitter: @v_held

Renowned analyst firm IHS MARKIT TECHNOLOGY recently conducted a global service provider survey among major operator executives to get unbiased view of what they consider to be the key 5G priorities and strategies. The sample represents nearly half of worldwide telecom revenue and accounts for over 50% of worldwide telecom CAPEX and the results are insightful.

Nokia perceived as top 5G vendor

Firstly, I was delighted to see that Nokia is top of mind with major operators when it comes to 5G vendors. We have certainly been vocal about our drive to lead 5G since the early days in terms of research, innovation, trials and ecosystem development. Likewise, Nokia continues to be heavily engaged with every operator in the 5G frontrunner markets of Japan, South Korea and the US.

Ultra-low latency most important 5G investment driver

Surprisingly ultra-low latency emerged as the top technology driver for 5G investment, followed by ultra-high throughput and network capacity extension. This is a clear indicator that 5G is expected to not only provide more of the same but also something that is not possible with current networks and their architecture. For Nokia, latency has already been one of the 6 key priorities of its Technology Vision 2020, introduced back in 2013. The result was LTE networks that currently provide 10ms, the lowest latency values in the field. However achieving the 1ms latency target of 5G is much more challenging. Reducing latency is a multi-dimensional task requiring a complete redesign of the radio’s frame structure, consistent use of edge computing in order to bring content and processing closer the end user and e2e (end-to-end) network slicing to manage the latency critical services. Hence, survey respondents view the 1ms target as the chief technical challenge in 5G. Nokia’s 5G solution has already achieved 0.8ms latency, and further field trialing will be undertaken.

IoT tops the 5G use case charts

5G will be much more than enabling enhanced mobile broadband services. The survey confirmed that beside faster Internet, 5G needs to enable new kinds of IoT services, to serve both consumers and industries. In addition, HD and UHD video, real-time gaming and Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) were raised as top targets for  future 5G investments. Interestingly most of the top services are very latency sensitive.

mmWave will be key

How will networks adapt and cope? The study results contain an impressive list of technology enablers. Operators clearly view mmWave technology as indispensable, as important as a new air interface in general and the separation of user and control plane. Although mmWaves are different than the current sub 6GHz radio systems, operators need the huge gains they can provide as outlined in this previous blog and detailed in a new whitepaper: The 5G mmWave revolution.

Overall the study indicates that 5G is more than business as usual and will not become just another “G” following the same business and technological paradigms. Instead, 5G will be a game changer with technical capability that will transform our industries and our lives. Nearly half of the executives in the survey view 5G as a revolution.

For a deeper dive, visit our 5G page.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #5G #IoT

About Volker Held

At Nokia, Volker is focused on combining the technology and business side of innovation. He heads Nokia’s 5G market development activities for the company, helping to create the future of telecommunications. He was also one of the founders of Nokia FutureWorks and brought Technology Vision 2020 to life.