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5G

What's in the Air for 5G?

New York -- Building America's 5G Ecosystem -- There might be some small measure of consensus emerging around what will constitute one of the building blocks of 5G.

5G is the specification behind the next generation of wireless technology, which is expected to start being deployed in the summer of 2020. The basic aim of the development work is getting a multi-megabit capable mobile network that can also support extremely low latency human and machine-to-machine (M2M) -- or Internet of Things (IoT) -- applications on the new networks. (See 5G: Generation Gap.)

One of the first things that has to be agreed on is what air interface should be used for the new specification. The air interface technology specifies the method for transmitting information over the air between the radio network and mobile devices. (See Mobile Wireless Air Interface Technologies.)

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) is now talking about an ambitious "unified air interface" for 5G that would scale up to high-speed services as well as support less demanding IoT services.


For more on 5G, visit the dedicated 5G section here on Light Reading.


"The core of this air interface in our view is OFDM, OFDMA-based, but it needs to be tweaked," Qualcomm's Senior Director of Technical Marketing Rasmus Hellberg said at the Light Reading event on Tuesday morning. (See Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM).)

Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) splits the data stream into narrowband channels at different frequencies to increase data rates. It is already used for WiFi and 4G LTE, which opens up the possibility of some level of compatibility between the network.

Talking to Light Reading on Friday at the Brooklyn 5G Summit, Lauri Oksanen, vice president of research and technology at Nokia Networks , agreed that 5G on low frequency spectrum will require an air interface modulation scheme "similar to OFDM."

That gets more complicated as the radio access networks (RANs) get up into the millimeter waves at 30GHz and 300GHz. Nokia's Oksanen says that a single carrier (band) scheme may be better. "For millimeter wave, relatively simple modulation would be good," he says.

Oksanen adds that there a lot of different proposals currently on the table for air interface modulation schemes. Work to standardize 5G will begin in earnest early next year.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

kq4ym 4/15/2015 | 6:08:03 PM
Re: Why don't we get our 4G networks at par with the rest of world first? It will be certainly very interesting to see just how the problems are solved. "...as the radio access networks get up into the millimeter waves at 30GHz and 300GHz. Nokia's Oksanen says that a single carrier (band) scheme may be better." Whether that will work out in practice and whether others will agres with that scheme will be something to look for.
mhhf1ve 4/14/2015 | 5:28:39 PM
Re: Why don't we get our 4G networks at par with the rest of world first? Darth V... maybe try another wireless carrier for the bay area? :P 
Darth V 4/14/2015 | 4:40:46 PM
Why don't we get our 4G networks at par with the rest of world first? All good and well to talk about the next big thing but how about improving our 4G network(s) and bring them at par with the rest of the world?

US carriers clearly traded coverage for performance.

From a 2014 "State of LTE Report" from Opensignal:

"Australia has the fastest average LTE speeds in the world, with the USA and the Philippines coming in the slowest of our qualifying countries. Claro Brazil are the fastest LTE network in the world, averaging an exceptionally fast 27.8Mbps – although their poor 'Time on LTE' performance shows that the roll-out is far from complete. 

The USA networks uniformly perform poorly for speed – with Metro PCS recording the slowest speeds of all eligible networks, possibly a result of their small spectrum allocation, which uses a 5MHz band while most US carriers use 20MHz.

Most of the country averages have stayed broadly the same, with only minor improvement or deterioration in service. Australia and Japan have made the biggest improvements, with Australia's average speeds increasing 42% to 24.5Mbps and Japan improving 66% to 11.8Mbps. The USA suffers the biggest decline, with average speeds falling 32% to 6.5 Mbps, the second slowest global average."

As an ATT customer in the Bay Area, this is exactly what I am experiencing every day. My average receive level from the "company with the strongest LTE signal" is -107 dBm. Average download speed is 7Mbps. 1 in 3 calls gets dropped and people go straight to voicemail most of the time.

You think I care about 5G? I simpy want working 4G that lives up to its potential (and the commercials)
DanJones 4/14/2015 | 2:27:33 PM
OFDM Of course, Qualcomm *would* favor OFDM, since they continue to get licensing revenues...

/cynic
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