I recently gave a talk at a Westminster eForum event, discussing the challenges that 5G development faces.

This was part of a wider discussion about the future of networks, devices and 5G, with speakers from YouGov, Vodafone, Qualcomm and Analysys Mason participating in the conversation. Together we left no stone unturned, examining the latest trends, regulatory perspectives, what 5G will actually look like — and much more.

One clear point that came out of the talks was that, despite recent statements to the contrary, there remains a lot still be decided about 5G. As a result, it’s important we look carefully at who will be using the 5G standard and what implications that may have, not just the technology side of the equation.

5G — enabling new applications
5G isn’t just about doing things faster; it will be the first generation to explicitly target the needs of multiple vertical industries. The graph below is designed to illustrate the challenge at hand. The grey area denotes the applications whose needs LTE cannot currently meet, and these are where 5G could demonstrate real added value over LTE.

Addressing the Internet of Things and multimedia
One of the key conflicts that embodies the challenge of 5G is between the demands being placed on it by the Internet of Things and multimedia applications.

These each have a vastly different set of requirements, with IoT emphasising low power and reliability, and multimedia content a need for high capacity and data rates.

The diagram below demonstrates the different factors that need careful consideration where 5G is concerned, and how the two applications differ:

Rather than rushing out the next generation of cellular technology to meet arbitrary deadlines, time needs to be spent now thinking about how 5G can serve the wider societal and industrial needs — not just smartphones and tablets. Much thought also needs to go into the compact between investment and competition, the answers to which could come from network architecture.

At the same time, we need to avoid the real risk of overhyping 5G in the next few years, creating a much larger headache for the industry later on. For the time being, users are only just starting to come to terms with 4G, therefore we need to ensure we take the time to consider the next generation — squeezing out the maximum value we can out of the current generation in the meantime.

For more information on the considerations for 5G, take a look at the slides I presented in full here:

For more information on Real Wireless’s work in 5G, read our recent blog post.

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