Wake-up call: Industry collaboration needed to make Beyond 4G networks carry 1000 times more traffic by 2020

Global demand for mobile broadband is accelerating as more people start to use more online services. Data-hungry services like video and mobile gaming will become more popular, while the rise of machine-to-machine communications will only add to the pressure on mobile networks.

There is room for a ten-fold increase in mobile broadband subscribers and possibly up to 100 times higher traffic per user (more than 1 GByte/sub/day), with smartphones and super-phones experiencing the fastest growth. Networks need to be prepared to cope with this total mobile broadband traffic, which could rise a thousand-fold by 2020.

It is clear that today’s wireless networks will need significantly better capabilities to meet these demands. Dubbed ‘Beyond 4G’, future networks must deliver low cost per bit, be highly scalable and able to adapt to “fluid” demand from users at different times of the day and at different locations. Network performance must be hugely better in terms of coverage, reliability, quality of connection, speed of response and energy efficiency.

There are some pretty big challenges ahead for communications service providers (CSPs). These include a probable shortfall in the amount of spectrum being made available, revenue growth falling short of traffic growth and rising network complexity which needs to be managed cost effectively.

Meeting these challenges will take considerable global research and development “Beyond 4G” over the next decade, with consolidated efforts from all players in the ecosystem –  standardization bodies and the industry at large – to develop the required innovative technologies and deployment options. As well as evolving existing technologies, research must also identify technology leaps.

There are three key goals to be met:

  • Ten times more spectrum will need to become available for mobile broadband
  • Networks will need to use spectrum ten times more efficiently than existing mobile broadband technologies
  • Networks will need ten times more base stations

At Nokia Siemens Networks, we strongly believe that these goals could be met through a concerted action by operators, vendors and standardization bodies. Nokia Siemens Networks is at the forefront of the research effort required to make Beyond 4G systems a reality. It is already introducing new architectures, such as Liquid Radio including baseband pooling, active antenna systems and unified heterogeneous networks, to deliver the necessary technological developments.

To know more, please download our white paper 2020: Beyond 4G: Radio Evolution for the Gigabit Experience or visit our website.

This post is by Nokia Siemens Networks Fellow Harri Holma.

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