In March 2015 the NGMN 5G White Paper was published: A global initiative has delivered key end-to-end operator requirements intended to guide the development of future technology platforms and related standards, create new business opportunities and satisfy future end-user needs.
In 2014, the NGMN Board – CTOs from more than 20 leading international operators – decided to focus the future NGMN activities on defining the end-to-end requirements for 5G. A global team of more than 100 experts has contributed to the now finalised 5G White Paper by developing the consolidated operator requirements intended to support the standardisation and subsequent availability of 5G for 2020 and beyond.
After having laid the basis for 4G in its White Paper several years ago, NGMN now outlines in the White Paper its vision for 5G empowering value creation through new use cases and being enabled by sustainable business models. Therefore, the capabilities of the network need to be expanded to support much greater throughput, lower latency and higher connection density. To cope with a wide range of use cases and business models, 5G has to provide a high degree of flexibility and scalability by design. In addition, it should show foundational shifts in cost and energy efficiency. On the end-user side, a key requirement for 5G will be that a consistent customer experience is achieved across time and service footprint. NGMN envisages a 5G eco-system that is truly global, free of fragmentation and open for innovations. The commercial introduction of 5G is expected to vary from operator to operator; however, NGMN encourages the ecosystem players to work towards availability of global and commercial solutions by 2020.
1. What is the role of NGMN on the way to the fully mobile and connected society?
The primary role of the NGMN Alliance is to enable and drive the creation of commonly accepted and global standards with the objective to expand and evolve the mobile broadband experience to the benefit of all customers. NGMN acts as a facilitator allowing our partners to develop these standards in SDO’s like 3GPP and others.
Coming from business requirements and use cases, the NGMN operators strive to establish clear architectural, functionality and performance targets for network infrastructure and devices as well as fundamental requirements for network deployment and management. The focus of NGMN’s work-programme comprising all our partners from industry and academia is on 5G while further supporting as well the development of LTE-Advanced and its ecosystem.
2. What is the purpose of the recently published NGMN 5G White Paper?
NGMN has had a central role in the definition of operator requirements for LTE and LTE Advanced. In the meantime, LTE has become a truly global and mainstream mobile technology, and will continue to support the customer and market needs for many years to come. In 2014 NGMN has developed requirements for the next generation of mobile broadband technologies which is commonly called 5G. Particular focus during this process has been on the needs of mobile network operators. These requirements are published in the NGMN 5G White Paper and they were initially communicated at Mobile World Congress 2015 and shortly after at the NGMN Industry Conference & Exhibition. This White Paper is going to serve as a guideline for 5G definition, architecture and design, taking particularly into account the demand of consumers, enterprises, vertical industries, and service providers in 2020 and beyond. Again, the 5G White Paper is key to achieve NGMN’s primary objective to enable and support 5G as a global standard.
3. What will 5G allow us to do compared with today?
5G will be an end-to-end system environment to enable a fully mobile and connected society. It empowers value creation enabled by sustainable business models. Typical use cases for 5G are high capacity / high performance outdoor and indoor broadband access in dense urban areas, higher user mobility, Internet of Things, extreme real-time communication, ultra-reliable and lifeline communication, as well as broadcast-like services.
4. How will 5G enrich our everyday life according to the White Paper?
In addition to supporting the evolution of the established prominent mobile broadband use cases, 5G will support countless emerging use cases with a high variety of applications. As already mentioned, 5G will allow us to cover use cases ranging from “Internet of Things” applications with very low bandwidth requirements to use cases with a very high demand on data rate and latency. Furthermore, NGMN envisages delay-sensitive video applications, high speed entertainment applications in vehicles, and “mobility on demand” services for connected objects. There will also be new services enabled in the health and safety area with extreme requirements in terms of system reliability. In addition, future services will be delivered across a fully heterogeneous environment and a wide range of devices such as smartphones, wearables, and Machine Type Communication.
5. Which demands must networks of the future fulfil to manage the tremendous growth in connectivity and traffic density?
The 5G use cases demand very diverse and sometimes extreme requirements. In the NGMN White Paper, requirements have been defined in six distinct areas: User experience, system performance, devices, enhanced services, business models, network deployment & operation. It is anticipated that a single solution to satisfy all the extreme requirements at the same time may lead to over-specification and high cost. Nevertheless, several use cases are anticipated to be active concurrently in the same operator network, thus requiring a high degree of flexibility and scalability of 5G networks. NGMN envisions an architecture that leverages the structural separation of hardware and software, as well as the programmability offered by SDN and NFV. As such, the 5G architecture will be a native SDN/ NFV architecture covering aspects ranging from devices, (mobile/ fixed) infrastructure, network functions, value enabling capabilities and all the management functions to orchestrate the 5G system. On the radio access side, it will be essential to provide enhanced antenna technologies for massive MIMO at frequencies below 6GHz and to develop new antenna designs within practical form factors for large number of antenna elements at higher frequencies.
6. Which business models have been identified in the White Paper?
It is an essential requirement that 5G provides a future-proof technology platform allowing the evolution of existing business models in both retail and wholesale offerings. Furthermore, it should open up opportunities to create completely new business models without having an impact on network architecture. For operators, the capability to evolve and enable new business models should be supported in a cost efficient manner, without having architectural impact. Using 5G networks, third party service providers should be able to offer their services in a very short time-to-market manner and based on mutual service level agreements. In addition, operators will support vertical industries, and contribute to the mobilization of industries and industry processes. Partnerships will be established on multiple layers ranging from sharing the infrastructure, to exposing specific network capabilities as an end to end service, and integrating partners’ services into the 5G system through a rich and software oriented capability set.
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