Nokia plows ahead on efforts to create 'flexible' 5G standard

Nokia Networks (NYSE:NOK) is making a lot of progress with its partners and operator customers on the road to 5G, and it's ready to further tackle the architectural concepts, projects and designs that will define 5G.

Earlier this week, Nokia helped kick off meetings around 5G NORMA, the 5G Novel Radio Multiservice adaptive network Architecture group with the goal of delivering proposals for an end-to-end architecture covering 5G RAN and core networks by the end of 2017.

The 5G Infrastructure Public Private Parternership (5G-PPP) is fostering a lot of the research and development of 5G, with industry leaders like Nokia and others such as the European Union investing time and money. Now in its first phase, the 5G-PPP consists of more than a dozen projects, including NORMA, said Peter Merz, head of Radio Systems Research for Nokia. Other projects look at things like 5G security, inter-network management and air interface design.

"It's a nice complimentary set-up" of the projects, he told FierceWirelessTech, noting the duration of those projects is roughly two to three years because some of them have more conceptual work and some of them involve proof-of-concept work.

2015 will mark a tipping point as the industry moves from the research into the standardization phase, he said. 3GPP will hold a two-day workshop on 5G in Phoenix in September, where there will be discussions about the types of technologies and processes for standardizing 5G. The standards process is expected to last into 2018-2019.

5G NORMA is focused on designing an adaptable architecture that will be flexible to meet the requirements of 5G applications, said Simone Redana, project coordinator for 5G NORMA and manager of Radio Research at Nokia. The project will run for about 13 months, until the end of 2017.

5G NORMA is not only focused on concept, he said. "We want also to prove that these concepts are feasible," with more demonstrations and prototypes expected next year. The aim also is to align with economic perspectives as well as identify the impact 5G will have on society.

Earlier generations like 2G were voice-centric and tried to add data on top of the existing standard. Now with 5G, the network has to be extremely flexible, to adapt to machine communications or mobile broadband for consumers, and the research and standards must include forward compatibility. 5G also will use underlying technology like network functions virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN). One of NORMA's projects is to define an SDN controller for 5G, he said.

How does NORMA differ from the Fantastic 5, which was announced this week? The Fantastic-5G, led by Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), which is being acquried by Nokia, aims to develop within two years a new multi-service air interface that operates below 6 GHz. Nokia says their efforts complement one another, with Fantastic-5G looking to integrate a radio solution and 5G NORMA eyeing the Fantastic-5G air interface work.

Given the European components of these initiatives, what's the role of the U.S. and North America? The Nokia representatives say they are working with several U.S. universities, including New York University (NYU) Wireless and the University of Texas at Austin.

While various entities have talked about the need for a new air interface for 5G, they've also talked about a lot of other things that may or may not ultimately land in 5G. Last month, the ITU-R Working Party 5D wrapped up a week of meetings in San Diego, saying it came up with a list of overall goals, a process and timeline for the development of 5G mobile systems. The ITU is expected to further define its IMT-2020 vision later this year.

Earlier this year, Nokia released a 5G white paper saying it foresees using the "full spectrum range," from below 1 GHz to 100 GHz, providing wide area coverage and high capacity in dense areas. While more spectrum below 6 GHz is needed and new promising techniques such as Licensed Shared Access (LSA)/Authorized Shared Access (ASA) will increase the use of existing frequencies, "there will be an increasing need to unlock new spectrum bands from 6 to 100 GHz for mobile use. This range can be broadly split into two parts, centimeter wave (cmWave) and millimeter wave (mmWave), based on different radio propagation characteristics and possible carrier bandwidth," Nokia said.

For more:
- see this EE Times article

Special report: Top 5 academic institutions leading in 5G research

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