5G in 2016: Applications coming thick and fast


By Ian Langley, vice president and general manager at Cobham Wireless

For the last two years the industry’s focus has been firmly placed on 5G, with speculation centring on the impact the new protocol may have and potential timeframes for deployment.

Next year, progress is likely to move along more quickly as technical definitions mature, leading to a more informed conversation on the potential use cases.

The research currently underway at initiatives such as the 5GIC at Surrey University is already making a very significant contribution to this and further UK-led developments are likely to be made at various stages during the next year.

Building on the breakthroughs being made in the UK and internationally, we anticipate Mobile World Congress to be a hotbed of debate around the issue with a range of demonstrations illustrating the exciting future of communications brought about by the introduction of 5G.

Concept to applications

The majority of the applications for 5G are still in the concept phase, but they will be coming thick and fast over the next decade. Although we are unlikely to see many ‘finished articles’ next year, thorough testing and validation of new concepts and innovations will begin in earnest.

While conceptually the conversations of 2016 may be centred around 5G, in terms of physical devices the landscape will likely be dominated by the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) applications showcasing the exciting new telecoms world almost upon us.

Central to the success of these innovations, from connected cars to smart fridges, is the thorough validation required to ensure they talk to the network and each other exactly as they should. If first-to-market products suffer from technical difficulties, the public and businesses may be reluctant to embrace future developments with the same vigour.

Testing challenges

From a day to day operational perspective, one of the most pertinent challenges to be faced by some operators is the switching of some functionality to a virtualised network infrastructure. Network functions virtualisation (NFV) offers a platform for agile operators to both launch new services for customers and improve margins through reduced OPEX spend.

Following extensive virtualised testing this year, we expect to see operators ahead in the testing cycle potentially begin limited service roll out in 2016, while those early in the development phase will step up their validation drive using pooled shared test assets.

Cobham Wireless is a provider of advanced wireless coverage and mobile communications systems, producing innovative, cost effective solutions that address market requirements for improved connectivity, greater capacity and better quality of experience.


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