By David Ryan, Senior Business Development and Strategic Marketing Manager, MACOM
5G Standards Are Set?
Manufacturers and wireless carriers around the world begin preparation for the new high-speed wireless standard.
It’s a very exciting time in the evolution of 5G. In December 2017, 3G Partnership Project (3GPP)
officially announced the new standards for 5G New Radio
(NR), effectively setting the stage to launch full-scale
and cost-effective development of 5G networks. The
approved standards include support for Non-Standalone
5G, enabling an operator with an existing 4G/LTE
footprint to take advantage of the performance benefits of
5G, either in new or existing spectrum to boost capacity
and user throughput.
What Happens Now?
Following this vital milestone in the realization of 5G,
the industry is hitting the ground running. Although the
full deployment and promised 10x
to 1000x capacity value add of 5G
may be further down the road, the
required effort and innovation to
bridge the gap between existing 4G
speeds and maximizing 5G’s full
potential has already begun.
Similar to previous network
technologies, the evolution of 5G
will see many flavors throughout
its life cycle. Early deployments
often use straightforward hardware partitioning, useful
for demonstrating the technology but not necessarily
hitting the performance points set by the International
Telecommunications Union (ITU), which is responsible
for defining what constitutes a new network generation,
or “G.” For example, the 3GPP standards for 4G
LTE were ratified in 2009, and within a year, the first
networks were rolling out—Telia deployed their 4G
LTE network in Stockholm and Oslo. Although this
initial deployment was considered an incremental
improvement over 3G, it set into motion profound
changes for the transition to 4G LTE.
In a fast-growing industry characterized by continuous
evolution rather than revolution, the ITU is committed
to connecting the world and their right to communicate.
The ITU has set the step-by-step objectives with every
network to date in an effort to keep definitions and
deployment targets aligned. These key targets set to date
by the ITU for 5G include a bandwidth minimum of
100 MHz, peak downlink of 20Gbit/s, latency of four
milliseconds (ms) for extreme broadband and 1 ms for
ultra-low-latency, an average downlink of 100 Mbit/s and
uplink of 50 Mbit/s. Naturally, these standards are not
expected to be immediately and universally implemented
in every initial deployment, but are considered goals for
the step-by-step evolution and maturity of 5G.
Assuming demand doubles every two years—an
assumption based on past experience—the capacity
enhancement will not be required until the capacity
offered by sub- 6 GHz is fully utilized. Although higher
frequency bands may be deployed earlier to address
particular locations, these will be the exception rather
than rule as the evolution of 5G naturally
progresses. With the world on the cusp of
5G evolution, it is truly an exciting time
for the industry.
The Buzz on 5G
As expected, carriers around the world
are already deep into 5G deployment
plans, with varying strategies and
ecosystems available. The challenges are
evident: operational limitations, hardware
and fiber resources, and as more carriers move toward
unlimited data plans, finding a way to monetize 5G’s full
capacity. Innovative ways to solve these challenges are
In the United States, AT&T has announced their plans
to deploy mobile 5G to customers in a dozen cities by the
end of 2018. To achieve this, one could speculate they
will have to use existing or interim hardware solutions for
bridging the gap to standard compliant chipset availability.
Verizon, largely recognized for blazing the trail with
millimeter wave (mm Wave) 5G, having been established
as a forerunner with the 5G Technical Forum, has
partnered with Samsung to develop “fixed 5G” microcell
units, home routers, and mobile chip-sized modems
to enable 5G service to its customers. At CES 2018,
Verizon’s CEO announced the carrier plans to beat AT&T
to 5G deployment.