LTE services so far have been launched 124 countries around the world (Q4 2014), and the number of the LTE subscribers reached around 373 million and still counting (source: GSA). This accounts for 5.3% of mobile subscribers and has a long way to go.
Nevertheless, it has been already a year since ITU discussed 5G as a topic after some world’s leading countries and companies in the mobile industry first raised concerns regarding the necessity of 5G standardization.
A typical standardization process of IMT at ITU starts with discussing of visions, followed by recommending visions including some key objectives (parameters). For example, for IMT-Advanced (4G) standardization, ITU set a goal of up to approximately 100Mbps for high mobility such as mobile access and up to approximately 1 Gbit/s for low mobility such as nomadic/local wireless access through Recommendation ITU-R M.1645, to encourage research and investigation in the industry.
For 5G standardization, ITU is setting its concept and vision, and also identifying key parameters that best describe 5G. In addition to the 7 parameters previously agreed (user experienced data rate, peak data rate, mobility, latency, connection density, energy efficiency, and spectrum efficiency), traffic volume density/area traffic capacity proposed by China at the 20th ITU-R WP 5D (IMT Working Party) meeting held in October 2014 was agreed as the last parameter.
Despite its initial plan to select just a few essential, indicative, easy-to-understand intuitive parameters, more parameters than in 4G standardization were considered during the actual discussion.
For instance, only two parameters – mobility and peak data rate – were included in the 4G vision. In 5G vision, however, three usage scenarios – Enhanced Mobile Broadband than what is currently available, Massive machine type communications, and Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency communications – were proposed. As a result, other parameters that satisfy the additional scenarios were added in 5G vision.That is, connection density and energy efficiency parameters were added for Massive machine type communications. Also for Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency communications, latency parameter was added and enhanced mobile speed was suggested.
The eight parameters and their values are as seen in the table below. Please note that the specific values in the table are not requirements, but only proposed values for drawing the figure and R&D, and thus are subject to change.
5G systems are looking to addressing a few primary use cases:
Explosive Traffic growth – The first use case would be to address the soaring demands for multimedia and social network services seen today. As a result of that, mobile traffic has been growing tremendously. The mobile traffic is expected to explode as an enormous number of things are to be capable of interacting with each other with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT). Ever-expanding mobile broadband services and the growing number of communication-enabled things will continue to cause traffic increase. According to the Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, mobile data traffic is expected to surge about 10 times – from 1.5EB (Exa Bytes, 1EB = 1,000,000TB) in 2013 to 15.9EB in 2018.
Increased number of devices – The next trend would be to address would be to address the sharp increase in the numbers of mobile devices and things that can be connected to the Internet (network) – from 7 billion and 12.5 billion in 2013 to 10.2 billion and 50 billion by 2018. Like more mobile devices are being introduced in the market every day, an increasing number of new things (e.g. wearable device, sensor, actuator, etc.) designed to realize this future 5G mobile service, IoT services are being brought to market as well. These changes in the market and communication environment will give users more use cases to choose from, constantly causing new requirements to be added in the system.
Telco clouds – Growth of cloud computing systems, various solutions aimed at mobile (personal) clouding computing market have grown the on-demand – IaaS, PaaS, UCaaS and SaaS deployments. Cisco shared the point of view for cloud growth predicting the mobile cloud traffic would increase continuously and account for 70% (twice the current 35%) of the total mobile traffic by 2020. In that respect, most 5G mobile services will most likely be provided through mobile cloud computing systems.
Various mobile convergence services – Last but not least, there will be also fast-growing demands for mobile-based convergence services in various fields such as augmented reality/virtual reality, ultra high-accuracy location-based service, hologram service, smart healthcare service, etc. Development of 5G mobile communication systems that can satisfy all the requirements of these various services should be followed to ensure seamless and reliable supports for the services.
So far the Korean market seems to be the hotbed of developmental activities for 5G standardization led by the likes of SK Telecom. The big three in South Korea for convergence and development for 5G standardization discuss some of the strategies and convergence scenarios.
SK Telecom’s 5G system architecture consists of the three layers: Service, Platform, and Infrastructure.
Source: SK Telecom.