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Nokia CTO highlights struggle in defining 5G use-cases

Nokia 5GW2016

Nokia’s mobile CTO has said use-cases for 5G from a user perspective still lack clarity despite impressive progress being made on the technological side.

Hossein Moiin spoke about vendor attitudes towards 5G during his keynote session at 5G World in London, and explained some of the technological steps operators need to do in order to realise the monetary benefits the fifth generation of wireless technology can bring. He began by explaining the basic evolution of technology and the fundamental blocks upon which 5G will be built.

“The way the vendor community thinks about solving the monetisation challenge is to think about the network in three dimensions,” he said. “The first is enhanced mobile broadband; the second is to make it act in real-time so it’s reliable and has next to no latency. Thirdly, we need to connect more than just people and start connecting things. When we talk about this, we can understand our requirements. We’re talking about much more capacity and peak speeds; but also coverage everywhere. ”

Moiin went on to say that while technology is moving forward nicely at this point, specific use cases for 5G are perhaps less clear at this stage.

“Our industry has set up a roadmap to create the right technology, but technology is not the only thing that matters. Having observed 4G to 2G, it is a little different this time. The reason, primarily, is that we do not have a great idea about which applications will start the fire. So what is the spark? In LTE we were very clear that a better mobile broadband experience is down to the application on the network, but in 5G that is less clear.”

Much has been made this week about the technological capabilities of LTE’s successor, and it would appear as though the development of RAN and core for 5G is progressing with impressive momentum. Specific service and use-case monetisation opportunities being discussed have been broad and lack specificity at this point. At the show we’ve seen broad connected car use cases, a plethora of IoT possibilities, TV streaming in ultra HD, and many more.

“A lot of work has been going on in pre-5G technologies, and here we need a clear strategy from the mobile operator’s perspective because we have so many possible choices,” said Moiin. “We need two clear pre-requisites, the network architecture needs fundamental evolution, services need transforming, but also we’re got a new paradigm where the mobile operator isn’t actually the main customer for 5G – this time it’s more about the vertical industry use cases, and there are so many of those.”

Those use-cases, and particularly the low hanging fruit for early deployment, will become clearer in time. Following an ambitious presentation from Korea Telecom yesterday, in which the telco highlighted 8K mobile holographic live streaming as a use-case for its 2018 trials, some use-cases highlighted so far are for technologies which are yet to be invented. As everyone gets duly excited about 5G, perhaps the industry is pulling the cart before the horse right now.

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