Articles by Peter Jarich
Jarich on MWC Shanghai: 5G sketch artists, flying small cells, super-massive MIMO and more wackiness
Earlier this month I stopped by Mobile World Congress Shanghai with a few of my colleagues Ed Gubbins of Current Analysis and Malcolm Rogers of Pyramid Research). Was it as big as the GSMA's Barcelona event in the spring? No. Was the weather more reminiscent of a mid-summer New Orleans -- if someone had pumped in all of LA's smog? Yes. Was it still a solid investment of time? Definitely.
A quick scan of these 5G discussions might leave you confused. On the one hand, you have announcements, demos, and innovations suggesting that 5G matters in the here and now. On the other hand, you have operators and vendors reminding us that 5G won't likely be a commercial reality for, at least, another five years. How do you reconcile this? Split the difference and start talking about 4.5G!
The recent formation of an ETSI Industry Specification Group (ISG) around "Mobile Edge Computing" is supported by IBM, Intel, Huawei, Nokia Networks, NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone. Announcing the launch, Nokia positioned Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) in terms of its own Liquid Applications solution which built compute capabilities into the RAN, "allowing for the rapid deployment of new services and the optimization of service delivery from the mobile edge." Yet, as good as this all sounds, there's a fundamental problem here.
Back in June, I promised to spend some time this summer (and maybe even into the fall) talking about LTE TDD. That started with a discussion of how massive deployments in The People's Republic could lead one to think of LTE TDD as a Chinese technology, a notion that runs counter to any interests in seeing the LTE's TDD variant benefit from global manufacturing and R&D scale. A look back at the development of LTE standards, then, backed up the notion that, from its inception, TDD was envisioned as an integral part of LTE, not a narrow, regional use case.
We all knew the 5G pendulum was going to swing back pretty hard post-Mobile World Congress this year. Sure enough, come mid-year 2014, it's suddenly fashionable for people in the telecom industry (media, analysts, etc.) to push back on the 5G hype. You probably know the messages I'm thinking of: "There are still plenty of 2G networks supporting M2M and voice in operation." "3G will be with us for years, so keep investing in those networks." "LTE and LTE-A are more than capable enough to support millions upon millions of people watching million upon millions of streaming video sessions."
We've talked about Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) multiple times this year. While still relatively new concepts, there's general consensus that both have the potential to revolutionize the way in which we think about mobile networks and services: SDN thanks to driving service velocity and manageability, and NFV thanks to rethinking the platforms on which networks are built and how network capacity is (cost-effectively) turned up or torn down. To be sure, there are still plenty of questions around them.
We're all friends here, so we can be honest--right? Okay. In the broader tech world, telecom isn't always seen as the sexiest or coolest segment of the market.