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Jan 27 2014

5G - beyond the hype

This blog is by Volker Held, head of Industry Landscape at Nokia Solutions and Networks.Twitter: @V_Held

Based on the 5G related announcements and even some claims about market-ready 5G products last year, you could get the impression that the fifth mobile generation is already ripe for launch. This obviously isn’t the case since 5G standardization hasn’t even started yet. So let’s forget the hype and focus on the areas that are really important to explore.

Looking back at the success of 4G standardization and how it positively impacted the take-off of the technology, there are a few key learnings. Firstly, it’s important to think about the requirements and what we want to do with the new technology generation. This approach helped the industry formulate the 4G use case, select the right technology to optimize the air interface, and simplify the network architecture. Thanks to these early actions, 4G is a success story with subscriber adoption rates we have not seen before with any other mobile technology. Not only that 4G allows operators to run a profitable mobile broadband business. NSN has also shown that 4G is sufficient to meet the capacity requirements of networks until the end of the decade: even a 1000-fold capacity increase is possible at a reasonable cost with 4G.

With respect to 5G, I’m not sure we have that kind of clarity yet. There are three key requirements to consider:

- We know that demand for capacity and network quality is growing fast, and that we’ll  need to be able to boost network capacity by around 10,000 times.

- Future use cases still need to be defined. High-quality video will be a key use case, but we don’t know all relevant future cases, especially in areas such as machine-to-machine communication. We also need to free up more spectrum for mobile communication, and that requires regulatory support.

- The unknown. It’s impossible to anticipate all that the future will bring, so we remain glued to our  radar screens for new developments.

What´s hot and what´s not

So, what does this mean? Flexibility is important as the industry still has an incomplete view on key requirements. It is also important not to rush into 5G, but make sure we, as an industry, understand the new demands and share the way forward regarding the technological enablers.

This is why NSN and the NYU WIRELESS Research Center at the Polytechnic School of Engineering at New York University are organizing the Brooklyn 5G Summit on April 23-25, 2014, in New York. The summit will bring together wireless/mobile industry R&D leaders in academia and business, along with the NYU WIRELESS industrial affiliate member companies to probe into the future of 5G. The goal is to conclude “what´s hot and what´s not” in 5G, and what the next steps are towards understanding and framing 5G wireless technology.

The Brooklyn 5G Summit will focus on propagation and channel modeling at new spectrum bands from 3 to 100 GHz; 5G spectrum availability; regulatory issues; and innovative architectures and systems that are needed to prepare for the capacity demands of the future. These topics have been derived from known requirements that the future communication will introduce, such as leapfrogs in capacity, latency energy consumption and data rates.


In a nutshell, 5G research is still in the early phases, with industry and academia jointly defining 5G and developing the basic concepts to prepare for the standardization of the technology. Now is the time to look beyond the hype and roll up our sleeves to properly prepare for this exciting next generation technology.

Interested? We have more to share on the topic in our latest 5G position paper. To share your thoughts on the topic, join the discussion with @NSNtweets on Twitter using #1GBperday$, #MBBFuture, #NSNnews, #TechVision2020, #FutureWorks, Innovation, NSN.

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.

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