With 4G LTE rollouts now underway by dozens of operators worldwide, interest is building in what comes beyond the LTE-Advanced standards.
Speaking at the Ericsson Analyst Forum in Santa Clara, California, Ulf Ewaldsson, Ericsson's CTO, said 5G is just a research concept at the moment and any vendor claims about having the technology in the labs is hype. 5G research projects underway in Europe and China are seeking to outline the requirements for 5G, not developing standards yet. Spectrum constraints are a reality that limits what can be practically deployed.
So what does Ericsson think could be possible with 5G?
Ewaldsson said don't expect 5G just to be a really fast radio specification. He envisions 5G as a suite of technologies for enabling the network society. Some things that might be achievable: 10 Gbps radios in the downlink, ultra-dense cells, extremely low latency at 1-2ms, end-to-end Quality of Experience control from the cloud to the device, and massive scale.
Ewaldsson would also like to see 5G as complementary technologies to existing networks, especially taking advantage of the programmability and virtualization currently being built into the next wave of cloud-enabled platforms.
Ewaldsson said the timeline for 5G standardization suggests commercialization by around 2020, although many operators will want to leverage these technologies as they become available.