wireless lanThe global wireless industry is well on its way towards introducing next-generation 5G wireless broadband technology and 5G use cases vary. Pilot trials are set for 2017-2018 and the first commercial deployments will start in 2020 or shortly thereafter, according to an Aug. 29 research commentary from IHS Markit Senior Research Director, Mobile Stéphane Téral.

More than half the respondents to IHS Markit’s 2016 5G Strategies Global Service Provider Survey (54%) said the view 5G as evolutionary in that they are an extension of current LTE, LTE-A and LTE-Advanced Pro standards. The remainder consider 5G to be revolutionary in that it will require replacing cellular wireless networks with an entirely new architecture.

The point is a critical one for industry participants as they move forward with finalizing 5G industry standards and investing in associated network infrastructure, products and services. Three-quarters of respondents said 5G should co-exist with LTE and LTE-A, suggesting those in the evolutionary camp have a leg up on those that take a revolutionary view.

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C Spire on July 20 announced it successfully demonstrated 5G fixed wireless technology using spectrum in the 28 GHz band. The announcement raises the question of whether wireless providers outside the Big Four will play a bigger role in 5G development than they have with previous generations of wireless technology.

IoT Leads for 5G Use Cases
Regarding applications and 5G use cases, IHS Markit’s survey results revealed that IoT applications top the list. Industry, as opposed to consumers, will drive 5G adoption and hence 5G networks should be designed to support wide-scale IoT connectivity.

Nearly 8 in 10 respondents employed by network operators (79%) cited IoT as the top use case for 5G. That’s up from 55% last year.

The UN ITU-R Working Party 5D finalized its 5G standards development strategy in June 2015, giving it an official designation of IMT-2020, Téral noted. Industry participants have since been focusing on setting out detailed technical performance requirements for the radio systems 5G requires.

IHS Markit’s survey results provide further clarity regarding 5G evolution. 5G requires new radio access technology, which means that 4G will not evolve to meet 5G requirements. That said, 4G won’t be superseded by 5G but will continue to evolve in parallel with it, according to Téral says.

Image courtesy of flickr user FutUndBeidl.

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