Ever since the release of LTE and LTE-Advanced networks, there’s been talk about the fifth generation of wireless networks. Although 5G internet has yet to be defined, mobile operators and vendors are aggressively investing in 5G networks and are expected to spend upwards of $6 billion in research and development through to 2020.
With a vision to connect today’s mobile phones and a variety of smart devices as well as future technology that has yet to be dreamed, 5G is expected to convene 24 million subscriptions by 2021 and grow to become a $250 billion market by 2025.
Trends and expectations
Before 5G becomes a reality it will need to address the expectations and needs of both the industries developing applications and systems that will run off the network as well as end users who will rely on its service.
According to a survey of 650 global executives across 8 industries, the expectations of 5G varies. The automotive industry hopes it will enable enhanced GPS mapping with real-time traffic updates, whereas media is looking to 5G to create more immersive virtual experiences and utility companies want to achieve greater productivity and efficiencies.
For end-users and producers of consumer applications, energy efficiency and low latency are both expected. Both of these, while may have little impact on the smart phone user, it could be life-saving to a driver whose breaks are activated just as they are needed.
Concerns and cautions
As eager as the world is for 5G networks, speeding to delivery could be worrisome. Unlike its predecessors, 5G is not solely about creating a faster network. Instead its aim is to be an all-encompassing provider to our quickly approaching connected reality. It will become a place where individual users and vertical industries come together through yet-to-be-defined service-oriented systems and applications.
Add to this the volume and nature of the data being transmitted across these systems and applications and it’s easy to see the vital role security and privacy plays in 5G. As such, privacy and security need to be built into the system from the start. Without doing so could prove detrimental from a cost perspective, as well could result in unprecedented social, legal and political ramifications.
Building a path to 5G Networks
As 5G development continues, a number of operators have already announced plans to launch new 5G services by 2020. These service may not operate on a 5G network initially, but they are built on the expectations of what the next generation of networks will offer.
For carriers, this means preparing the networks ahead of time to benefit from the next generation of networks. Architecture updates will need to be done in order for networks to achieve the low latency of 5G and its incremental predecessors.
With this future in mind, other operators are considering how 5G will displace current services and offerings and how they can replace or compensate for resulting revenue losses. Such is the case with residential phone and wireless services. They are also strategizing other requirements they can begin to implement today to prepare for tomorrow’s 5G world by increasing capacity and coverage of their networks.