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Ready or Not, Here Comes 5G
Michelle Donegan | Contributing Analyst
It may be years away from commercial deployment, but 5G is already showing up in long-term R&D plans.

Leading network operators, technology suppliers, and standards groups are looking to secure a leadership role in defining the next next-generation mobile network.
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5G Development Plans Begin to Take Shape
5G refers to wireless technology that isn't expected to be deployed until 2020 at the earliest. The technology has not been clearly defined yet, there are no standards and no one knows exactly what 5G will comprise. Mobile operators worldwide are far from recouping their 4G investments and many have yet to even roll out 4G networks. As one equipment supplier put it upon reading recent reports of 5G breakthroughs and investments, "I felt a cringe in the force."

So the race is on to be first with 5G at a political level and among technology researchers and developers. Last year, China, Japan and South Korea each organized national research programs; the EU invested more funds into 5G research; several academic conferences presented papers on 5G technologies; and some equipment vendors announced 5G R&D investments.

Now is the time for big ideas. Now is the time to question and challenge current wireless systems, and imagine how 5G networks could do better and what communications needs they could meet. Researchers are looking beyond the network and studying social interaction and human behavior to better understand how mobile traffic patterns will grow and change. They're asking, for example, what would teenagers want to do with their cell phones in 2020? They are also looking at the potential for other industries to use wireless technologies through massive machine communications (MMC), if the networks were designed to handle that kind of traffic. There is a desire among researchers at universities, vendors and operators alike to ensure that the technology is not developed for technology's sake but rather in response to real communications needs, whether for people or for machines.

The development of new technology starts with a vision. The 5G visions presented in this report highlight the wireless industry's aspirations for enabling new services, connecting a wider variety of devices and coping with ever-rising levels of mobile traffic after 2020. The next 12-18 months will be an important period for further research to explore these visions and eventually translate them into a practical, working system that can be produced and deployed profitably.

5G will be different from 4G and previous wireless generations if, as envisioned, it is designed for a variety of different use cases rather than just peak data rates or coverage, if it is optimized for M2M communications, if it heralds new licensing regimes and if it has energy efficiency built into the system from the start. A new technology generation marks an opportunity to improve upon previous technologies either through evolution or revolutionary new designs. The hope is that 5G won't miss that opportunity.

5G Development Plans Begin to Take Shape presents the 5G visions from operators, vendors and research groups. Some of the ideas may not ever see the light of day in a commercial network. But from these visions, there will one day emerge a workable 5G wireless system.

Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (4gltei0214_toc.pdf)
The race is on to be first to define and develop the next generation of wireless communications. At a national policy level, some governments are facilitating 5G developments by organizing and funding research programs, but it is difficult to determine exactly which country or region is leading 5G research at this stage in terms of total public funding contributions. And while 5G R&D efforts are certainly competitive, there is also a desire to cooperate and reach consensus earlier in the research process than previous wireless technology generations. National projects in China, Japan and South Korea have forged agreements to work together on 5G, for example, and now hope to extend that to the EU and the U.S.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies profiled in this report include: 5G Innovation Centre; Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU); China Mobile Communications Corp.; Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO); Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC); Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.; The METIS 2020 Project; NEC Corp. (TYO: 6701); Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK); NTT Docomo Inc. (NYSE: DCM); and Samsung Group.
Total pages: 21
DECEMBER 2013
Mobile Call Quality: Does Better Really Matter?
This report identifies and analyzes key issues affecting the market for mobile voice products and services, including handsets, infrastructure and HD Voice licenses. The report is based on interviews with a representative sample of companies.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
NOVEMBER 2013
Mobile Video Optimization: The Second Wave
This report looks at the techniques that reduce the network impact of OTT mobile video, and examines how an "optimize everything" philosophy is giving way to an intelligent, targeted approach based on congestion and user QoE. The report also profiles 12 leading MVO solution vendors and compares their offerings.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
AUGUST 2013
Wireless Backhaul for Small Cells: Who's Doing What
This report covers wireless backhaul options for outdoor, public access small cells. It also covers the main challenges of small cell backhaul, as well as the technology and spectrum options that are available. Finally, the report profiles the small cell backhaul strategies of 11 wireless backhaul vendors.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
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CONTRIBUTING ANALYST
Danny Dicks
Danny is an analyst and consultant with over 20 years' experience in technology markets who contributes regularly to Heavy Reading Insider.
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Danny Dicks
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Tim Kridel
Tim writes for both Mobile Networks Insider and Cable Industry Insider. He has previously covered the wireless and cable industries for a number of research firms, including Heavy Reading.
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Tim Kridel
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Tim Sanders
Tim, president of The Final Mile Inc., is a frequent author, analyst, and industry speaker.
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Tim Sanders
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