Ericsson’s Steve Plunkett and EE’s Matt Stagg outlined the current state and potential of 5G, which is due to launch officially in 2020, to the Thames Valley Centre in mid-November.
The two industry experts covered both the consumer and professional applications of 5th generation mobile networks at the Reading event.
Plunkett, Chief Technology Officer at Ericsson, discussed the expected improvements, which include significantly higher data rates, the capability to manage larger volumes and better battery life. Latency will also be improved, a parameter which can be as important as data rate for some applications.
Much of the back-end management will be done in the cloud with data centres deployed both centrally and at the edge to ensure low latency. Standards are expected to be in place by 2020, although some implementation is already happening in anticipation of the final specifications.
Plunkett said that changing data usage and viewing habits have been driven, in part, by mobile usage and an increase in viewing hours overall. In fact, 5G could replace fixed-line delivery of the internet in some cases, he argued.
He also explained the concept of network slicing, which allows for networks within networks, and specialist applications such as mobile production and venue media virtual networks.
EE head of mobile video and content Matt Stagg said his company’s experience at the Glastonbury music festival demonstrated the potential of network slicing. On EE’s network, data consumption was 54TB, with uplinks used for personal broadcasting. This level of data usage would normally preclude professional OB use, but 5G slicing will enable capacity to be assigned and ring-fenced for different applications.
Plunkett explained that several organisations are working together to bring 5G to market and that the University of Surrey, with which he is personally involved, is a leading research force. He went on to say that 5G has great potential, but that a spirit of collaboration is needed to avoid fragmentation and incompatibilities.