Editor’s Corner—The move to 5G is like no other

5G phones (pixabay)
While 5G is going to require low, mid and high-band spectrum—and no single technology is going to define 5G—it’s clear that advancements in millimeter wave technologies are going to play a big role.
Monica Alleven editor's corner

Many of us have lived through past wireless technology migrations: From analog to digital, 2G to 3G and then 3G to what’s commonly called 4G or LTE and LTE Advanced. These previous technology paths have all been well and good, but the one to 5G? I’d hazard a guess that we haven’t seen anything like it before.

For one thing, it’s not just a migration from LTE/LTE Advanced to the next big thing. Granted, standards are still being hammered out for 5G, but we have a pretty good idea of what the change will entail: Autonomous cars, virtual reality on steroids, a massive Internet of Things (IoT), and yes, maybe even remote surgery.

For another thing, we’re not going to get there in one fell swoop, and LTE/LTE Advanced is going to remain a big part of our wireless lives for some time to come. In addition, a lot more industries beyond wireless are going to be a part of the ride, including auto, healthcare and retail, to name just a few.

While 5G is going to require low, mid and high-band spectrum—and no single technology is going to define 5G—it’s clear that advancements in millimeter wave technologies are going to play a big role. Just last week, several companies either made or closed moves in the high-band spectrum space, including AT&T, Verizon, Dish Network and Google.

Researchers continue to discover more about the characteristics of millimeter wave spectrum every day, but the earliest iterations of 5G are likely to be built upon fixed wireless: Giving wireless operators the ability to finally deliver on that last-mile promise of extending gigabyte-speed internet services directly into users’ homes without the need to lay expensive cabling.

Yet all sorts of questions remain: How will early-mover operators move from a fixed to a mobile 5G scenario? How will standards evolve to support these applications? What business challenges might carriers face as a result of their decisions around the pace of their 5G rollouts?

These are just some of the questions we’ll be discussing during a Fierce luncheon at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona later this month. I’ll be moderating an event titled: “5G Evolution: Transitioning from Fixed to Mobile,” and our speakers will include:

  • Sanyogita Shamsunder, director of network infrastructure planning at Verizon
  • Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas
  • John Smee, vice president of engineering at Qualcomm Technologies
  • Antje Williams, executive program manager for 5G at Deutsche Telekom AG

I encourage you to join us at this MWC event on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fira Congress Hotel, right across the street from the show. We’ll start with a lunch buffet before delving into the issues around 5G. Click here to register. I hope to see you there! - Monica, @FierceWrlssTech