The CTO of NTT DoCoMo doesn't exactly know what will constitute 5G technology, but he has some wants and expectations of the next generation of wireless communications.
Light Reading spoke to Siezo Onoe, CTO of NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), and Lauri Oksanen, vice president of research and technology at Nokia Networks , at the Brooklyn 5G Summit at the NYU campus in downtown Brooklyn on Thursday about the future. Both men made it clear that there is still a lot of work to do in defining the fifth generation of wireless (5G). But they also pointed out some aspects that they do expect to be incorporated into the specification.
Onoe is definitely expecting to use millimeter wave radios, which run at much higher frequencies than traditional cellular radios, as part of any 5G deployment. This is in part because operators expect to have to go up in frequency just to access enough spectrum to support new deployments.
Initial trails have seen vendors using very dense antenna arrays to combat the propagation range and other issues seen in the bands at 28 GHz and above. (See Samsung: Inching Toward 5G?)
"Early tests have shown that it is possible to build a [millimeter wave] small cell network with the nodes roughly 100 meters apart," Oksanen said.
But building a network that dense could cause fiber shortages even for NTT DoCoMo, which typically has good access to optical fiber. "If we deployed that many small cells, we may have some problems, even in Japan," Onoe says.
Thus, both men expect some specification for radio backhaul capabilities to be part of the 5G specification.
Onoe also plans to use lower-band spectrum in 5G just to get coverage in more rural areas. Thus, the trend toward multi-frequency network support is likely to be part of 5G, too.
Onoe hopes that machine-to-machine (M2M) communications will be a big part of any new specification. He says he would like to be able to support "very-low-power" requirements for connections, so that he can run tiny "sensors" that can have a "long battery life" on the network for everything from agricultural to medical applications.
Oksanen expects M2M support to be "built into the specification."
Onoe is targeting 2020 as the likely launch date for 5G. "Probably two years before the launch, we have to start some system tests." NSN's Oksanen says that initial lab tests of some aspects of the technology are going on now.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading