While a lot of discussions are underway about 5G and what exactly it will entail, one thing is widely expected: It will involve ever-smaller cells, one very good reason for the Small Cell Forum to get involved in the early discussions about 5G.
As mobile service providers look at supporting an increase in traffic of possibly 1,000 times by 2020 and new devices associated with the Internet of Things (IoT), the Small Cell Forum says it is essential that industry initiatives start establishing what carriers will require from 5G in order to support new and profitable business models in the future.
Until ITU-R publishes its technical performance requirements for IMT-2020 and official standards bodies, notably 3GPP, start their own work, "it can be argued that none of this is really 5G, but undoubtedly the efforts of alliances like NGMN will lay some of the groundwork for the future--and in the nearer term, will also feed into the evolution of LTE-Advanced," the forum states.
The Next Generation Mobile Network (NGMN) Alliance's white paper is an important contribution in that it details end-to-end operator requirements for 5G, with the aim of guiding the development of future technology and platforms. In 2014, the NGMN Board, comprised of CTOs from more than 20 leading international operators, decided to focus future NGMN activities on defining the end-to-end requirements for 5G. A global team of more than 100 experts contributed to the 5G White Paper.
In 5G, NGMN anticipates the need for a new radio interface or interfaces driven by use of higher frequencies and use cases such as the IoT or specific capabilities, such as lower latency, that go beyond what 4G and its enhancements can support. However, 5G is not only about the development of a new radio interface. NGMN envisions 5G as an end-to-end system that includes all aspects of the network, with a design that achieves a high level of convergence and leverages current and future access mechanisms.
The Small Cell Forum is collaborating with several industry bodies. In March, the forum and ETSI's NFV Industry Specification Group signed an agreement to collaborate on a work stream that explores synergies between ETSI's NFV program and the Small Cell Forum's work to determine carrier requirements and recommendations for the virtualization of small cells. The Small Cell Forum launched its virtualization program at Small Cells World Summit 2014, an initiative in line with ETSI NFV Use Case No. 6.
The collaboration between Small Cell Forum and ETSI ensures that the objectives of both organizations are aligned, opening the door for Small Cell Forum's recommendations to be included in future ETSI use case definitions.
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