Spectrum Uncertainty Hinders 5G Research

5G testbed
Billed by Tafazolli as the first research institute in the world to focus resources on 5G technology, the 5GIC has now attracted more than £70 million ($108 million) in investment, including £12 million ($18 million) from the public sector, and currently houses some 170 researchers. (See 5G: Meet the Influencers.)

Its industry partners include all of the UK's major network operators as well as a number of leading technology players, including China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Japan's Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY), besides Samsung.

The "testbed" to which Samsung refers is a 4G network that extends across the University of Surrey campus. The plan is to upgrade this system to include various 5G technologies as and when they are being developed. By 2018, the 5GIC reckons the testbed will be capable of supporting connection speeds of around 10 Gbit/s per cell.

Part of the campus-wide 5G testbed

Reporters attending the opening of the 5GIC were treated to a demonstration of Ultra HD video streaming over an "enhanced" outdoor mobile network, courtesy of Huawei and the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) , another 5GIC partner.

Huawei also gave a demonstration of a new air interface it calls Sparse Coding Multiple Access (SCMA), which it claims can support at least three times as many Internet of Things (IoT) devices as 4G.

Speaking to Light Reading on the sidelines of the 5GIC event, Wen Tong, the vice president of Huawei Canada's R&D Center, said it might take local regulators two or three years to free up spectrum bands for mmWave technologies following a ruling at the WRC in 2019. "There is a lot of work to do to bring the solution to the mass market," he said.

Nevertheless, Tong was keen to point out that mmWave is only one component of 5G and that other technologies would be used to provide a "ubiquitous cellular network."

Huawei has been working on a 5G air interface called Filtered OFDM that will be "frequency-band agnostic," according to Tong, and compatible with the SCMA standard it is pitching as an IoT technology. (See Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei Pitch 5G Radio Technologies and 5G: Generation Gap.)

Rival vendor Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) is backing an alternative air interface it calls Universal Filter OFDM.

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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