Key news on 4G now and 5G soon

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The data-driven pace of technological change is accelerating, forcing mobile communications networks to evolve more rapidly than ever before. Long Term Evolution (LTE), also known as the 4th generation of mobile communications networks (4G), is finally gaining momentum.

Telecommunications regulators have launched auctions, mobile network operators have bought portions of spectrum, and network deployments are taking place almost everywhere in Europe. However, in the last six months there have been increasing discussions on going beyond LTE: on the role of WiFi, on transformation of wireless networking through software-centric approaches such as SDN, on innovative technologies such as cognitive radio and nanotechnologies, and, not least, on the 5th generation of mobile communications network (5G).

Two key pieces of news have bought attention to 5G. The first happened last October, when the University of Surrey in the UK secured £35 million of funding for its 5G Research Centre, an academia-business consortium involving companies such as Huawei, Samsung, Telefonica Europe, Fujitsu Laboratories Europe, Rohde & Schwarz and AIRCOM International. The second piece of news came from the European Commission last week. The EU launched an investment of €50 million in 5G research with the intent of implementing 5G solutions by 2020. This investment adds to the existing €700 million invested in ‘beyond 4G’ research.

It is too early to say exactly what the 5th generation will look like. Perhaps, it will be a combination of several technologies. One thing is clear; the industry and the policy makers do not want to be unprepared in case the 4G infrastructure cannot serve the continuously increasing demand for data. 5G should be considered with the Internet of Things vision in mind. This means maximising throughput, ensuring high bandwidth in mobility conditions, and enabling easy use of Web-based and multimedia-rich applications. Furthermore, it means enabling the use of applications developed around artificial intelligence, sensors, and actuators that enable communications between multiple types of devices – human devices, but also objects. Reducing battery consumption and ensuring better coverage in high-peak traffic areas while maximising security should also be top of mind.

Although we are the beginning of the LTE story, the pace of innovation in mobile communications networks is moving rapidly. We could say that LTE is just a transition towards 5G, but it would not be correct. The pace of technological change is simply accelerating. As the density and variety of data increases, communications networks need to keep pace to ensure a rich flow of information. The speed of production of data will rise continuously, implying that the networks of the future should be extremely flexible and ready to adapt.

Source – Frost & Sullivan ICT

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