NGMN Alliance, 5G PPP, 4G Americas separately move to build 'foundation' for 5G

A surprisingly wide range of companies, trade groups and technical associations this week announced plans to work on the building block of 5G networks, news that further underscores the wireless industry's interest in moving past LTE and into 5G.

Specifically, The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance announced the launch of a "comprehensive work-programme" that the group said will cover 5G business principles, technical architecture (including security), spectrum frequency ranges and bands, and intellectual property. On that last point, NGMN said it will plan to "explore and to establish an appropriate 5G patent pool framework." Such an effort is notable considering the relatively lackluster support that LTE patent pools have managed to acquire.

"Together with our global partners from industry and research, we will now implement a 5G work-programme ensuring that future solutions will meet our ambitious targets," Peter Meissner, CEO of the NGMN Alliance, said in a release.

The actions of the NGMN are worth watching considering the high-level executives from U.S. wireless carriers who are involved in the effort. For example, Michael Irizarry, EVP and CTO of U.S. Cellular; Tom Keathley, SVP of network and product planning at AT&T; and Adam Koeppe, VP of access technology planning for Verizon Wireless, are all board members of the NGMN.

But NGMN wasn't the only group making noise on the 5G front this week.

Separately, the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G PPP) initiative announced the formation of the 5G Novel Radio Multiservice adaptive network Architecture (5G NORMA) group with the goal of delivering proposals for an end-to-end architecture covering 5G RAN and core networks by the end of 2017. Nokia Networks, Alcatel-Lucent, Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefónica are among 13 European telecom industry players that are pushing the effort forward.

In a statement, Nokia explained that 5G NORMA will break "away from the rigid legacy network paradigm" and "adapt the use of the mobile network (RAN and Core Network) resources to the service requirements, the variations of the traffic demands over time and location, and the network topology, which include the available front/backhaul capacity."

Finally, not to be left out, trade group 4G Americas published a report detailing the 3GPP's work on its Release 12 and Release 13 standards, which the group described as setting "the foundation for 5G." 4G Americas is a trade group representing North and South America in network design, spectrum allocation and other elements necessary for the industry.

"There is a tremendous future ahead for LTE mobile broadband technology as detailed in the 3GPP standards in Releases 12 and 13 and beyond," said Jim Seymour, a principal engineer at Cisco who was a co-leader for the 4G Americas' working group that authored the report. "Both HSPA+ and LTE will be the predominant technologies well beyond the next 10 years as operators around the world continue their investments in building a strong foundation through to the next or 5th mobile broadband generation currently being considered as IMT-2020 by the ITU."

Last month, the ITU decided on the term "IMT-2020," referencing the year in which most industry watchers expect 5G to commercially deploy.

Indeed, there remains solid and continued interest among wireless vendors, operators and others in defining and outlining the parameters of 5G. Generally, those in the industry have said that 5G will combine a wide range of radio access network technologies and cutting-edge network architectures into a cohesive design that will provide users with faster speeds and operators with additional network capacity. However, as evidenced by the disparate announcements on the topic this week, the move toward 5G is currently spread across a wide range of companies and organizations that are not necessarily working together.

For more:
- see this Mobile World Live article
- see this Light Reading article
- see this NGMN release
- see this Inside 5G article
- see this FierceWireless:Europe article
- see this 4G Americas release

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