A white paper produced by Rysavy Research and 5G Americas technical experts explores the intensifying role of wireless communications, the evolution of its technology, emerging services and use cases, and a timeline of future developments through 2030.
“The transition to 5G has been happening simultaneously with continued advances in 4G LTE,” stated Peter Rysavy, President of Rysavy Research and the author of the report.
“5G will transform wireless network capability by facilitating extremely dense deployments, harnessing spectrum never before available for cellular systems, being able to use extremely wide radio channels, employing virtualization methods, and supporting new ultra reliable and low latency applications.”
5G is transformational across multiple platforms, technologies and use cases, including:
- Improved network capacity and throughput with peak data speeds up to 20 Gbps downlinks and up to 10 Gbps uplinks
- Network management of up to 1 M devices per square kilometer, improved device mobility of up to 500 kilometers per hour, over 100x energy efficiency over 4G LTE, and one millisecond network latency times allowing use cases such as cellular V2X and public safety communications
- 5G development is leading to new services and use cases for wireless customers
- Spectrum support for many frequencies, including spectrum bands above 6 GHz, availability of TDD and FDD modes for all bands, and use of licensed and unlicensed bands
According to Rysavy, “Wireless network capacity doubles every three years and is fueled by progressive densification, access to new spectrum, and innovation that increases spectral efficiency.”
More specifically, the white paper considers how:
- Spectrum will be a key ingredient that requires harmonization of spectrum assets, including low, medium and high bands, across national boundaries. Unlicensed spectrum and spectrum sharing techniques will complement millimeter wave licensed bands that include 24 GHz, 28 GHz, as well as 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz.
- 5G will continue to evolve with new enhancements over the next decade; the 3GPP Release 15 (5G Phase 1) standard was completed in 2019; Release 16 (Phase 2) is underway; and Release 17 is expected to be completed in 2021. Subsequent releases will make 5G yet more powerful.
- Eventually, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of small cells will increase capacity and provide a viable alternative to wireline broadband
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) will optimize 5G network efficiency, make devices easier to use, enable new applications and leverage a hybrid architecture of central cloud, edge clouds and device computing ability
Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas commented, “We can foresee potential next generation developments through 2030, considered ‘beyond 5G’ that could result in theoretical peak speeds of up to one terabit per second (Tbps). The mobile wireless industry does not stand still and has historically shown that innovative enhancements to improve mobile technology will continue into the future.”
The report takes a speculative look forward through 2030 at applications, radios and networks for 5G beyond 3GPP Release 17:
Applications: wireline broadband replacement viable for nearly all users; with computer miniaturization and AI, an augmented-reality overlay on human experience will be created; device interaction will be touchless, based on natural human voice communication or gestures; wearable devices will become ubiquitous, either in watches, implanted in our bodies, or in our ears; super high video, immersive telepresence and 3D holographic communications
Radios: spectrum use expansion from 100 GHz limit of 5G to 400-7000 GHz or the terahertz frequency; free-space optical communications; anticipated 1000 simultaneous antenna beams that reach 10 Tbps aggregated throughput; AI-based spectrum sharing approaches; wireless energy transfer for extended or infinite battery life
Networks: ultra-densification with wireless self-backhaul; augmented non-terrestrial networks including low earth orbitting (LEO) satellites, UAVs and high altitude platform stations; virtualization of every aspect of network except radio head using open interfaces; greater adoption by enterprises of private cellular networks; distributed computer intelligence with widespread adoption of edge computing; AI from cloud to edge to device; quantum computing