Cost and return on investment key challenges in 5G development, WWRF chair notes

Wireless World Research Forum (WWRF) chair Nigel Jefferies said cost and return on investment are key challenges that must be addressed in the development of 5G technology.

Speaking on the opening day of the WWRF's 5G Huddle event, Jefferies said that developing 5G may be challenging, but that overcoming those hurdles through close international collaboration offers the potential to deliver a mobile platform that truly "delivers an era of ubiquitous communications."

Such a platform "could cause major disruption in the market," Jefferies said, adding: "That's why it's important to have a global understanding and to work together to achieve a worldwide standard."

Jefferies commented as the WWRF announced it signed a memorandum of understanding with the 5G Forum of Korea covering the development of the next-generation technology.

Dr Lee Hyeon Woo, chair of the Korean body, said the agreement would pave the way for 5G rollout by establishing a phased approach to standards setting and network migration. He added that the collaboration would also make it easier for both groups to exchange information regarding 5G development and identify issues of common interest that could be used to promote a global vision of the technology.

Delegates also discussed the means of developing 5G, with a user-centric approach advocated. Such a focus would help to identify and overcome obstacles to developing coherent 5G standards.

While many attendees talked up the potential social benefits of 5G, there was a note of caution from Professor Rahim Tafazolli, director of the Centre for Communications Systems Research at the University of Surrey and director of the university's 5GIC research facility.

"We've developed grand visions about what 5G will deliver, but [what] will the reality be? Do we risk rushing into 5G and only achieving 'higher speed and higher speed' or will all these efforts actually deliver new things that will help verticals and have societal benefits?" he asked.

Headline targets of commercial 5G deployments in 2020 were also called into question, with Paul Crane, head of practice for mobile network services and sustainability at BT, noting that such targets are ambitious given that 4G is not yet fully deployed.

Anders Bohlin, senior economist at the European Investment Bank, warned governments not to rush into 5G spectrum auctions. "If governments auction 5G spectrum to fill their treasury coffers and then operators don't invest because there's no market, that won't be good for 5G," he noted.

For more:
- read this WWRF announcement

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