Initial 5G deployments will look a lot like heterogeneous networks in which many small cells are overlaid on a macro-cell network, based on LTE-Advanced with a higher degree of carrier aggregation and more antennas than previously.
This is how SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM), an early leader in 5G investment, sees the next-generation of networks shaping up when it begins deployments in 2020. In an extensive interview with Light Reading, two senior managers explained that 5G will be both an evolution of the LTE network as well as include revolutionary new features. Small cells, WiFi, SDN and NFV will all play a part, according to Dr. Changsoon Choi and Dr. Jong-Han Park, senior managers of SK Telecom's 5G Tech Lab and Corporate R&D Center. (See 5G: Meet the Influencers and 5G: What Is It & Why Does It Matter?)
"Since higher frequency suffers from higher atmospheric loss and larger shadowing, more small cells are required to provide similar cell coverage," the SK Telecom execs said in the email interview. "Thus, the capex and opex reduction of small cells become important. So, WiFi technologies are expected to be one of viable solutions for increasing cellular capacity in cost-effective manner."
Park and Choi also said that because of the wide range of new services with varying characteristics and requirements that 5G introduces, a programmable network will be key. Both SDN and NFV will enable this in 5G, helping ensure operators can implement services in a cost-effective intelligent manor, and that others that use the network can introduce new services with higher QoS, the R&D men said. (See You Can't Spell 5G Without LTE and Heavy Reading Q&A: Getting to the Heart of 5G .)
You can find the entire, wide-ranging interview with Park and Choi -- covering all aspects of 5G from the air interface to the network typology to the use cases and business model -- in the Prime Reading featured stories section of Light Reading. (See Q&A: SK Telecom Talks All Things 5G.)
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading