5G – what is it good for?

5G – what is it good for?

Industry experts preview the big 5G questions to be asked at the CW Future of Wireless International Conference.

With disruption and change the main theme for this year’s CW Future of Wireless International Conference on 23rd–24th June, industry experts will be taking a close look at 5G and asking what is it, do we need it and what is it good for? Appropriately, the event is organised by Cambridge Wireless (CW), the not-for-profit industry forum that started life as Cambridge 3G 15 years ago, providing a test bed for 3G applications based on what was considered at the time to be fast internet access.

“Consumers had a need for 2G and then 3G and 4G to make telephone calls and connect to the internet,” says Tony Milbourn, VP Strategy at u-blox and keynote speaker at the conference to be held in the Emirates Stadium in London.

Tony Milbourn u-blox
Tony Milbourn, VP Strategy at u-blox

“The focus is now on connecting things and most things don’t need super-low latency or mega bandwidth. So, is the standards-making machine on auto-pilot, developing a further extension of performance, while most people’s needs are pretty much satisfied by 4G, subject to better coverage of course?”

“When people ask me, ‘what is 5G?’ I still say that it is a research project,” says Paul Ceely, Head of Network Strategy at EE and CW board member.

“It’s early days and there is a huge set of requirements to address, some incremental and some transformational and this work can make a real difference to the experience and reach of communications networks. The UK has a great opportunity to lead the 5G ecosystem and there is an argument for a common test-bed environment to encourage greater cooperation and allow enterprises to build and trial new applications. Speaking to end users and innovators, it’s clear that we need to deliver consistency across operators and infrastructure providers so that the capabilities of 5G can be used from day one.”

According to the latest Mobile Economy report from the GSMA, 4G is still a relatively nascent technology on a global scale, with just under 7% of total connections by the end of 2014.
The report suggests that discussions centre on whether 5G will be a true generational shift in connectivity technology or the consolidation of existing 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi and various other technologies to provide vastly greater network coverage and always-on reliability.

“Mobile communications has realised much of the promise it offered back in 2000 and the mobile handset is heading towards becoming a remote control on life, providing extraordinary value to individuals,” says William Webb, deputy chair at CW, CEO of the Weightless SIG and President of the IET.

“However, 5G threatens to take us in a different direction – away from device connectivity to ultra-complex solutions enabling data rates well beyond those of any significant rise in consumer value. As 5G research and standardisation unfolds, the problems will become ever more apparent. It is time to stop extrapolating data rates and take a more intelligent view of the future.”

The Conference will close with the Cambridge Debate: Do we need 5G?, chaired by Bob Schukai, Head of Advanced Product Innovation at Thomson Reuters. Speaking for the motion will be Howard Benn, Head of Standards and Industrial Affairs at Samsung Electronics Research Institute and against the motion will be Tony Milbourn, VP Strategy at u-blox.

For more information on FWIC 2015, please go to: http://www.cambridgewireless.co.uk/futureofwireless/default.aspx
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