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5G Technology: Potential for Consumers and Industry

The GSMA's Role in Shaping the Strategic, Commercial and Regulatory Development of 5G Ecosystem


5G offers enormous potential for both consumers and industry

As well as the prospect of being considerably faster than existing technologies, 5G holds the promise of applications with high social and economic value, leading to a ‘hyperconnected society’ in which mobile will play an ever more important role in people’s lives. The GSMA will work for its members and with its partners to shape 5G As the association representing the mobile industry, the GSMA will play a significant role in shaping the strategic, commercial and regulatory development of the 5G ecosystem. This will include areas such as the definition of roaming and interconnect in 5G, and the identification and alignment of suitable spectrum bands. Once a stable definition of 5G is reached, the GSMA will work with its members to identify and develop commercially viable 5G applications. This paper focuses on 5G as it has developed so far, and the areas
of technological innovation needed to deliver the 5G vision.

There are currently two definitions of 5G

Discussion around 5G falls broadly into two schools of thought: a service-led view which sees 5G as a consolidation of 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-fi and other innovations providing far greater coverage and always-on reliability; and a second view driven by a step change in data speed and order of magnitude reduction in end-to-end latency. However, these definitions are often discussed together, resulting in sometimes contradictory requirements. Sub-1ms latency and >1 Gbps bandwidth require a true generational shift Some of the requirements identified for 5G can be enabled by 4G or other networks. The technical requirements that necessitate a true generational shift are sub-1ms latency and 1 Gbps downlink speed, and only services that demand at least one of these would be considered 5G use cases under both definitions.

Achieving sub-1ms latency is a hugely exciting challenge that will define 5G Delivering 1ms latency over a large scale network will be challenging, and we may see this condition relaxed. If this were to happen, some of the potential 5G services identified may no longer be possible and the second view of 5G would become less clear. This paper looks at some of the challenges that must be overcome to deliver 1ms latency.

At the same time 4G will continue to grow and evolve

Technologies such as NFV/SDN and HetNets are already being deployed by operators and will continue to enable the move towards the hyper-connected society alongside developments in 5G. Considerable potential also remains for increasing 4G adoption in many countries, and we expect 4G network infrastructure to account for much of the $1.7
trillion the world’s mobile operators will invest between now and 2020. Operators will continue to focus on generating a return on investment from their 4G (and 3G) networks by developing new services and tariffing models that make most efficient use of them.

Objectives of this report

The purpose of this report is to take a step toward clarifying what ‘5G’ really means in the technological sense, by: reducing 5G to its fundamental core (including acknowledging what it is arguably not); expanding on some of the use case scenarios that 5G might enable; and discussing conceivable implications for operators in terms of network infrastructure and commercial opportunities. This can only be achieved by framing the discussion around 5G in a broader context alongside existing network technologies and those currently in development.

In summary, there are three key questions that this report will ask:
1. What is (and what isn’t) 5G?
2. What are the real 5G use cases?
3. What are the implications of 5G for mobile operators?

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