5G Evolution – The Next Phase

Deployment of 5G networks, based on the initial specifications of 3GPP’s Release 15, is currently underway in many countries across the globe. Although the initial focus of these early deployments has been to enhance the mobile broadband experience, work is underway to expand the current scope to address the need for continued network evolution to enable a wide range of new high-performance applications across the three key 5G use cases: Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC)/IOT and Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC).

This need for continued network evolution is driven by the increasing diversity of connected devices and demanding applications as well as the unprecedented growth in data traffic – currently amplified by the rapid increase in remote workers, students and even healthcare professionals. By improving network performance and management capabilities, operators will be afforded the opportunity to develop new business models, expand into new verticals and increase revenue streams.

Additionally, new technologies such as data-driven AI, cloud/virtualization and edge computing, operators will enable a more dynamic, distributed and customizable network architecture with increased automation and ease of management in support of new applications and usage models. While Distributed Ledger Technology will likely be used in a variety of areas from authentication and identity management to supply chain security.

Beyond the network itself, it will be critical to address the user experience as the network evolves. As the end user device environment becomes increasingly complicated, it will be essential that devices will easily and autonomously adapt to the radio environment they are in to deliver information and services efficiently and with the highest QoS possible. The ultimate goal is to provide the user with a consistent, high-quality communication service across a widely varying landscape of conditions.

ATIS’ recently released report, 5G Specifications in 3GPP: North American Needs for the 5G Future, lays out a vision of the 5G technology and market landscape (post Release 16) and identifies areas that need more in-depth study going forward. This includes identifying key technologies and markets along with the transformational societal impacts of these technologies that will drive new needs.

The report covers the global landscape related to future technology innovation across various standards bodies such as the ITU-T Focus Group Network 2030, IEEE 802.11, oneM2M as well as the 3GPP, but also takes into consideration a number of regional specific needs and priorities for the North American region.

ATIS has identified a baseline set of North American priorities. These include:

  • Governmental Priorities – 3GPP specifications that enable operators within the North American (NA) region to meet the needs of existing as well as future anticipated public services
  • Services and Architecture Priorities – 3GPP specifications that support the unique market needs of mobile operators related to services and their impact on the mobile core network
  • Radio Access Network (RAN) Priorities – 3GPP specifications that support the unique market needs of mobile operators related to RAN and spectrum

These areas are of interest to the broad North American service provider domain — many of which are in support of public safety and other regulatory needs for the region. Therefore, as 5G specifications progress in 3GPP Release 17 and beyond, it is important to keep sight of these specific needs in order to ensure that the future 3GPP specifications can be aligned with them.

In coming years, the landscape will be shaped by the convergence of emerging technologies with societal trends and new business models. The cumulative impact of these three trends will define the path forward and shape the agenda for future 3GPP releases. Areas for consideration will include key verticals such as industrial, automation, agriculture, transportation, health care and energy as well as media / entertainment, public safety and smart cities.

Read the full report 5G Specifications in 3GPP: North American Needs for the 5G Future.

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