Real Wireless is deeply involved in key aspects of 5G – especially in the context of techno-economic analysis – which is why I welcomed an invitation to a recent workshop. Slightly under the radar – at least as far as the non-technical media is concerned – a lot of important work is being done on some complex and tricky aspects of 5G. Take, for example, SPEED-5G – a 5G-PPP project that aims to achieve a significantly better exploitation of heterogeneous wireless technologies. That project – which started in 2015 –inspired a SPEED-5G workshop at BT Centre in London in March 2018 focused on dynamic spectrum access techniques.
The workshop attracted an international audience from both industry and academia. Delegates witnessed technical presentations as well as live demonstrations of some key SPEED-5G results.
The presentations, I felt, were strongest in some very specific areas: for example, details of how to make eDSA (enhanced Dynamic Spectrum Access) work; MAC splitting into upper and lower layers (and which processes would be hosted north and south); how to decentralise the Radio Resource Management, and other RAN innovations.
Among the real-world applications that may yet result from this work, BT talked about trying to convert unicast video streams into broadcast streams, using football matches as an example. Currently, streams for each device take place independently, even for devices in the same home. Bringing live football – or any other sport – in this format to many concurrent viewers over a wide area is certainly a challenging project but it’s an interesting innovation with direct benefits to MNOs – if it works.
5G-MiEdge is a publicly supported research project bringing millimetre-wave (mmWave) technology and mobile edge computing together to forge innovative new architectures. At the workshop, the MiEdge presentation focused on ultra-high-speed low latency (uHS LLC). This technology could have interesting vehicle, train and plane applications, but I do feel that there is a question mark over whether this approach could be too niche for a role in the standardisation of 5G.
Possibly more identifiably useful were some innovations in radio resource management, discussed by Andreas Georgakopoulos of WINGS ICT Solutions, an SME that focuses on the development of software for various vertical sectors. He presented a method for network optimisation based on ‘learned’ conditions from fluctuating traffic, which could be genuinely useful in more than one context.
There were also interesting presentations too on spectrum efficiency comparisons between Wi-Fi, LTE-A, and FBMC. In fact the pros and cons of 5G over Wi-Fi and LTE-A are something we at Real Wireless are often asked about. For example, as an attendee at one of our workshops recently asked us, why would smart factories not just use Wi-Fi in enclosed factory spaces?
The answer to this question may be the same as the reason 5G projects like SPEED-5G – and others – are so important: the roles and capabilities of 5G are still being defined. Which is why Real Wireless keep up to speed at the cutting edge of 5G development – so our clients don’t need to.