5G implementation in commercial mobile networks is expected in 2020, but Ericsson announced today (1 July 2014) that it has already achieved speeds of 5Gbps in live, over-the-air demonstrations of the company's pre-standard 5G network technology.
The live demonstration employed a new radio interface concept and advanced multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) technology to achieve the record-breaking results. Ericsson 5G network development activity includes new antenna technologies with wider bandwidths, higher frequencies and shorter transmission time intervals.
Radio base stations built with baseband units and radio units are being developed specifically for 5G trials. Small cells in a heterogeneous network environment, new frequency bands (including 15GHz) and high-speed, high-capacity backhaul transmission are also key 5G focus areas for Ericsson.
This performance will be critical to addressing both the relentless growth in mobile data demand and enabling the next-generation machine-to-machine applications. NTT DOCOMO and SK Telecom senior management witnessed Ericsson's achievement at Ericsson lab in Kista, Sweden.
The Ericsson Mobility Report (June, 2014) forecasts that 85% of North American mobile subscriptions will be LTE by 2019. This high penetration of LTE indicates that North America could be one of the first regions to adopt 5G.
At the same time, Japan and South Korea are also likely to benefit from early 5G availability with trials already announced by both NTT DOCOMO and SK Telecom. A regional appendix of Ericsson Mobility Report shows LTE subscription penetration had already reached over 30% in Japan and over 50% in South Korea - the highest in the world.
Seizo Onoe, executive VP and CTO at NTT DOCOMO, said: "5G promises significant performance enhancements to support future new applications that will impact both users and industry. To proceed with our joint project on 5G field trial further, we are very glad about Ericsson's success in demonstrating the real potential of 5G radio access technologies at this early stage."
The Mobility Report provides a comprehensive snapshot of the pre-5G mobile world and foreshadows the demand drivers for 5G. The report forecasts a 10-time growth in mobile data traffic between 2013 and 2019 and highlights three to four times growth in the number of active cellular M2M devices by 2019.
Alex Jinsung Choi, executive VP and head of ICT R&D division at SK Telecom, said: "SK Telecom plans to take the lead in 5G wireless services so we are pleased to see the progress that Ericsson has already made with their live demonstration of 5G performance. 5G will build upon the investment that we have made in Long Term Evolution and expand our service offering to all of our customers."
Sathya Atreyam, research manager wireless network infrastructure at IDC, said: "Though the standard is not yet defined, 5G has already evolved from a technology vision to a network and business planning consideration for operators. It is important for network equipment vendors like Ericsson to demonstrate the potential of 5G as a means to begin creating a demand in the communications ecosystem.”
Johan Wibergh, head of Business Unit Networks, said: "5G will impact both the access and core of mobile networks, so we are working closely with leading operators, including NTT DOCOMO and SK Telecom, to ensure a practical and proactive evolution. The development of advanced radio technologies is one of the first critical steps in the realisation of a 5G future."
With faster speeds, lower latency and better performance in highly dense areas, 5G represents an evolution of the user experience, but it will also enable new device-to-device and M2M applications that will impact both consumers, such as traffic safety control, tactile internet, and industry, for example sensors or capillary networks. Though 5G standards are still in early development and new spectrum allocations are still to be considered.