My history teacher always told me that I needed to be able to recite the "who, what, when, where, how and why" related to any given event or set of events I was studying in order to get top marks. If we put that advice into the context of the development of 5G, the "who, what, when, where and why" are already pretty clear.
The "who" is easy to identify. Almost all of the major players in the development of wireless technology have come together to develop the future 5G network technologies, principles, processes and architectures, working alongside the biggest global operators and major enterprise users of wireless technology.
The "what" has been defined in terms of broad network performance key performance indicators (KPIs) and network behavior characteristics that pretty much all vendors agree on and are working toward delivering.
A few nations keen to push pre-5G technology have determined the "where" and "when." South Korea and Russia want it for sporting events they are hosting in 2018, and so does Japan for its 2020 events. Further, there are standardization processes set to enable the first fully standards-based networks to emerge everywhere else from 2020 onward.
The "why" is the imperative to create networks that can cope (cost effectively) with the vast explosion of new types of devices needing wireless access, as well as with consumer demand for ever faster speeds and improved experiences on their smartphones; these networks also must meet the operator requirement to open up new revenue streams. Existing infrastructures are simply not expected to be able deliver on these ambitions.
Yet, "how" 5G will be delivered is still not clear. In July 2015, the EU initiated and funded a series of projects to investigate potential 5G technologies and networking approaches, and these are just the latest in a smorgasbord of truly international investment partnerships, collaborations, demonstrators and lab and field trials of potential technologies and approaches happening all around the world. Vendors and operators are embracing one another in "coopertition." They are working together, as they must if a single global approach is to emerge; however, they are very much competing to ensure their own IP is built into 5G, as well as to position themselves well to differentiate in a standards-based market. Billions and billions of dollars of technology revenues, and technology market leadership positions, are at stake.
Heavy Reading's latest report, "5G Lab Report: Status of 5G Development" examines why 5G is necessary and the applications that are driving the development of its technology components, focusing on radio access rather than the core network. It details the timetable for standardization work of various kinds, and reviews the key technology issues in 5G development, identifying areas of common ground and competition. Further, the report identifies and reviews the many R&D projects and programs around the world, when they will do their work and what they aim to achieve (or in the case of completed trials, what they have already delivered). It summarizes views on the likely timetable for network and service deployment, and profiles eight of the major vendors that are working to advance 5G technology.
— Danny Dicks, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading