Gang Bo, Ph.D, General Manager of 5G Products at ZTE, provides a progress update on 5G, what’s coming in 2016, and how cellcos can get started on their 5G journey
5G Insights: Taking a high-level view, how far has the industry progressed with 5G in the past year?
Gang Bo: To put it into context, there has somehow been a tradition in telecommunication industry for next-generation technology to be developed every decade. With the global success of LTE, the industry stakeholders commenced the initial stage of 5G research in 2012, and established a couple of regional research platforms, such as the IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group, 5GPPP, 5G Forum, ARIB. The 3GPP RAN Workshop on 5G was held in September 2015, where 550 delegates and over seventy presentations contributed to the discussion, covering the full range of requirements that will feed TSG RAN 5G work items for the next five years. In addition to standardization activities, countries like China already see the emerging and urgent market needs of 5G technology. Consequently, 5G tests and trial plans have recently been announced with the goal to complete overall system tests and evaluations by 2018.
5G Insights February 2016
Which key 5G technologies have made the most progress in terms of development, standards, etc?
There is an emerging consensus in the whole industry that there will be a new, non-backward compatible radio access technology as part of 5G, supported by evolution of LTE-Advanced in parallel. 3GPP is working on identifying and developing the technology components needed for successfully standardizing the next generation system in a timely manner that satisfies both urgent market needs and the more long-term requirements set forth by the ITU-R IMT-2020 process. Furthermore, the next-generation system should be able to use any spectrum band - ranging up to at least 100 GHz - that may be made available for wireless communications in the more distant future. A set of enabling technologies should be studied, e.g. new waveforms (Filter Bank-OFDM), novel multiple access schema (Multi User Shared Access) and coding schema (Low Density Parity Check Code) along with deep investigation of propagation models at frequencies above 6 GHz with innovative stochastic and ray-tracing hybrid modeling methodologies.
Can you give any details of current proof-of-concepts or demonstrations ZTE has conducted with operators related to 5G?
In the 5G research and test-bed area, ZTE has close relationships and good cooperation with major operators around the world, such as CMCC, DT, KT etc. We have developed and demonstrated 5G key technologies like Massive MIMO, MUSA/FB-OFDM of IoT, and High Frequency Communications. We have also developed a network slicing prototype which carries actual services with CMCC. And that network slicing capability can be dynamically defined and instantiated on demand.
What other key 5G technologies or developments can we expect to see more of in 2016?
5G goes beyond traditional cellular services for personal use.
A large chunk of traffic will derive from human-to-machine and machine-to-machine communication. The so called Internet of Things calls for new service requirements, standards and innovative solutions. The most challenging requirement is to support a massive number of devices, which will easily run to hundreds of billions. This means that the cost per terminal should be significantly lower than mobile devices. The power consumption has to be low enough so that devices can be battery-powered for years without recharging. Also the coverage should be robust enough so that devices deep inside basements can connect to the network. Non-orthogonal transmission based Multi-user Shared Access (MUSA), as one of the new enabling technologies for IoT, allows multiple users to simultaneously access the network using the same frequency resources. Access can be contention-based, thus significantly reducing the control overhead for granting resources and indicating the transmission format. Control signaling optimization can reduce signaling overhead when a large number of devices connect to the network.