5G trials escalate as companies jockey for leadership in next-gen wireless standard

Sue Marek

Although realistically 5G will not make its commercial debut until at least 2020, we are already starting to see a lot of noise in the marketplace about 5G trials and collaborations.   

Here's just a sample of some of the latest 5G developments, many of which were timed to coincide with the Mobile World Congress Shanghai event held this week in China.   

  • Ericsson partnered with Japanese operator SoftBank to conduct 5G field trials in Tokyo and the Swedish vendor also said it would work with Turkish operator Turkcell on 5G research and development.
  • ZTE teamed with Korean operator KT to launch a 5G test bed in Seoul.
  • SK Telecom, also a Korean operator, said it was collaborating with Intel on 5G chips and radio access technology.
  • LGU+ agreed to work with Huawei on 5G development by signing a MoU with the Chinese vendor.
  • And Huawei also showcased what it said was the world's first 5G prototype operating on a sub-6 GHz spectrum at the MWC Shanghai event.

But what do all these announcements really mean? In my opinion they signal the importance that vendors and operators place on being seen as an early leader and visionary in 5G technology. Although we may be years away from actual commercialization of 5G, there's a lot at stake for wireless companies because 5G represents such a dramatic change, not only in technology but also in business models. 

While 5G development may not seem that much different than earlier network advancements, such as the migration from 3G to 4G, many experts say 5G will be dramatically different because it will involve much more than just an air-interface upgrade. The vision of 5G includes network speeds that are blazingly fast at 20 Gbps or higher with a latency that is mere milliseconds. Not only will people be connected to each other but so will machines, automobiles, city infrastructure, public safety and more.

How will that vision be fulfilled? And what technologies and business models will evolve to make 5G a success? Those questions remain unanswered and that's what is spurring all this R&D and industry collaboration.

FierceWireless took an in-depth look these developments and more in its latest eBook, "The Path to 5G."  Not only did we delve into the business case for 5G, but we also looked at the spectrum strategies, new technologies and more. Download it today.--Sue