4G Americas weighs in on 5G, calls for LTE-A extensions

With many parties weighing in on the 5G debate, 4G Americas has decided to throw its hat into the ring with the release of a white paper that makes recommendations on how operators in the Americas should deploy 5G.

"5G networks will not be standardized, manufactured or deployed in a days' notice for tomorrow; however, the long term planning cycle is upon the mobile broadband industry, and it is imperative that the Americas region be represented," said Chris Pearson, president of 4G Americas, in a press release.

The paper highlights some key recommendations. First, the paper says that as 5G is defined and its requirements developed, it must include the entire 5G ecosystem (e.g., air interface, devices, transport and packet core). In addition, the paper says that 5G development should provide global harmonization under a single framework and allow time for true advances of technology, feasibility studies, standardization and product development.

The paper also says it's critical that the countries of the Americas invest in 5G research. Interested parties should "avoid debate (at least initially) on what 5G is. 5G does not (yet) describe any particular specification in any official document published by any standardization body," the paper advises.

Not surprisingly, the association wants to remind the world that the existing LTE family of technologies has a lot of lifespan and should remain viable through at least 2020, the year a lot of operators and vendor partners are shooting for a 5G commercial release. Carrier aggregation, small cell enhancements and device-to-device signaling are just some of the examples of how LTE is advancing.

The group notes that all major technology advances should be considered on the road to 5G, and wherever feasible, features being discussed as 5G requirements should be implemented as LTE-Advanced extensions, before the full 5G is available.

"There are ongoing enhancements in LTE-Advanced that will continue through 2018. 5G is envisioned to have initial deployments around 2020. It must be recognized that significant breakthroughs in new radio transmission interfaces may be accompanied by a break in backward compatibility," the paper states.

A primary question is whether or not 5G will include another new air interface or a collection of air interfaces, each for a different scenario and use case. Without a clear definition of 5G or 5G requirements, it is safe to assume that 5G will need to support a large number of connected devices, be "Always online," and have energy efficiency and support of flexible air interfaces. However, these suggested requirements may not be achieved by just an evolution of current systems; instead, they may require 5G to have new protocols and access technologies, the group points out.

Of course, it wouldn't be 4G Americas if it wasn't representing, the, uh, Americas region, but the group says it is cooperating with and contributing the document to other organizations and associations around the globe to use as part of their 5G activities. Many industry leaders are stressing the need for global cooperation as the standards are hammered out for the next generation of wireless.

The 4G Americas' recommendations come around the same time SK Telecom released its 5G white paper. SK Telecom also says it's working with Samsung Electronics on a shared 5G vision that will be shared with standardization groups and technology forums in and out of South Korea.

For more:
- see the press release

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