How Real Wireless is shaping the future of wireless connectivity with 5G

Whilst 4G might only just have started to be appreciated by personal and business users, the wireless industry is already awash with discussions about 5G. Whilst Boris Johnson’s prediction that London will have 5G by 2020 is ambitious, it’s a solid bet to say it will start to be rolled out – in some form – in the early part of the 2020s, with a few non-standard networks trialling it before this (at the Tokyo Olympics, for example).

But at the same time, the reality is that the 5G technology isn’t actually defined yet. To make matters more complicated, there’s little appetite for rolling out an expensive new generation of cellular technology that only offers the “usual” higher speeds and bigger capacity benefits we have come to expect.

Instead, 5G is aiming to be the first wireless generation that is designed to explicitly cater to the needs of specific vertical industries. These could be anything from the emergency services, to broadcasting, smart highways, and utility networks.

As a result, the industry is fully aware that the end technology will need to be hugely flexible, capable of providing wide range connectivity to wireless sensors in remote locations, through to the short delay communications required to meet the needs of M2M. There are also niche use cases, such as in hyperdense venues like stadiums, where it needs be capable of handling tens of gigabits per second of data.

This in turn requires new, more flexible network architectures at all levels. The core network needs to be able to route traffic quickly and efficiently, adapting to suit the current application and available transport networks. The radio network needs to be flexible enough to suit the various needs of immensely different applications, some of which could be decades of battery life, gigabits of speeds, and milliseconds of latency…

…fingers crossed it’s not having to provide all of those at the same time!

To meet this need, and to ensure that 5G becomes a timely reality, Real Wireless is playing a key role in the research it first requires via initiatives, which include:

1. The EC socio-economic analysis – Catering to all these needs could prove immensely expensive, it’s therefore particularly important we closely examine the business case of the new business models it could enable – and the associated social and economic benefits these in turn could provide.

In May, the European Commission launched a 12-month study into the socioeconomic benefits of 5G. The study will help provide a better understanding of the potential impact that 5G will have in a variety of industries including health and travel.

After working with the European Commission on several other projects, Real Wireless was selected, along with three other key independent project stakeholders, to perform the analysis for this assessment.

The study will include a series of stakeholder hearings starting on 22nd September and a workshop on 19th October.

2. 5G Architecture research – The technological elements of 5G are – and will continue to be – the subject of intensive international research over the next few years. Real Wireless is contributing to this research, some of which is being funded by the EU – to the tune of €700million, no less – including as part of its 5GPP programme.

A great example of our involvement in this work is our recently announced 5G NORMA project. In this piece of work, we are working to identify the optimum architectures for 5G – you can find more details on this here.

3. Membership of research centres – The 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey is the UK’s only research centre dedicated to the next generation of mobile communications.

Real Wireless is now a pioneering SME member of the centre and will advise it on regulatory, technical and business challenges — driving the delivery of a mobile communications network capable of meeting the tomorrow’s needs.

We have also been contributing to the work of the world-renowned CONNECT research centre at Trinity College Dublin.

With the upward trend in mobile device adoption levels, 5G will become the crucial network underpinning almost every application, so the work we do now is crucial to ensure the infrastructure is ready when the world needs it.

It’s therefore important to us that we continue to play a key role in the development of the technology – both from an economic and technological standpoint.

Our work is also not without direct benefits for Real Wireless customers. Our insight in to the development process allows us to provide truly informed advice to both wireless industry players who wish to establish a position towards 5G, and to our wireless user customers who want to be sure that they are best placed to make the most of 5G’s potential to address their particular needs – at a time which is right for them.

European 5G socioeconomic study to evaluate the wider benefits of the next generation of wireless

Real Wireless, Tech4i2, InterDigital Europe and Trinity College Dublin to assess socioeconomic impact of 5G in Europe

London, UK – 9th June 2015 – A new study into the socioeconomic impact of 5G in Europe commenced on May 22nd, led by a group of industry experts and academics.

Undertaken in partnership with the European Commission, the main focus of the study is to develop a better understanding of the potential economic impact of 5G networks in new areas such as health and transport.  Research will examine the potential social benefits of the next generation of wireless technology and identify where 5G will make a difference.

The project will determine the key use cases for 5G, identifying their relative potential in terms of social and economic benefits in the European context. It will test the proposition that 5G can offer specific additional value over 4G to particular vertical user sectors, via work which will be fully informed by and consistent with the 5G PPP initiatives while offering a fresh and independent perspective.

The consortium was selected by the European Commission to bring its independent approach and wide knowledge of both commercial and technical aspects of wireless technology. The study will be carried out over 12 months by a consortium comprising:

  • Applied economic research consultancy Tech4i2
  • Independent wireless advisors Real Wireless
  • Wireless research and development company InterDigital Europe
  • The national telecommunications research centre in Ireland, CONNECT headquartered at Trinity College Dublin

The work will shed light on the journey to future deployment of 5G and its impact on economies across Europe, allowing stakeholders to plan effectively. The study will allow the European Commission to work closely with regulators to plan future policy in areas such as spectrum allocation planning and future market regulation.

“After working with the European Commission on several other key projects, Real Wireless is proud to be an integral part of realising 5G and its impact in Europe,” comments Professor Simon Saunders, Project Director. “The socioeconomic effects of this new generation of wireless will be unprecedented, and understanding these will be crucial in securing Europe as a global leader in 5G. The consortium we have assembled to work on this project offers a uniquely informed yet independent perspective on these issues.”

The study will be informed by inputs from stakeholders via a series of stakeholder hearings which will be held on 22nd September and via a workshop which will be held on 19th October, both in Brussels. To find out more about these events and follow project progress, join the project’s dedicated LinkedIn group at http://linkd.in/1Kra7n4.

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About Tech4i2

Tech4i2 is a UK based global applied research consultancy operating in the areas of innovation and inclusion.  Tech4i2 supports local and national governments and global organisations in strategic decision-making and service delivery improvement. The tech4i2 team and network of international experts operating in over 50 countries offers research excellence enabling the provision of incisive advice.

In the last five years Tech4i2 has undertaken more than 60 technology development projects with the European Commission, OECD, IOC and government organisations in Eire, Italy, Poland, Spain, UK and US.

To find out more about Tech4i2’s work on bandwidth and spectrum strategy and policymaking visit the Tech4i2 website.

 

About Real Wireless
Real Wireless delivers independent, informed and innovative advisory services in every aspect of wireless, from the technical to the commercial. It works with mobile operators, governments, venues, building owners and regulators to bridge technical and commercial domains to help its clients get the best from wireless. With experts in every aspect of wireless and a proven track record, Real Wireless is one of the world’s leading wireless advisory firms.

Its clients include Ofcom, Wembley Stadium, The ECB, BAA, The European Commission, major network operators and many others.

To find out more about Real Wireless and its work in 5G and wireless strategy and policy visit the Real Wireless site.

For more information visit www.realwireless.biz

Twitter: @real_wireless

 

About InterDigital®
InterDigital develops technologies that are at the core of mobile devices, networks, and services worldwide. We solve many of the industry’s most critical and complex technical challenges, inventing solutions for more efficient broadband networks and a richer multimedia experience years ahead of market deployment. InterDigital has licenses and strategic relationships with many of the world’s leading wireless companies. Founded in 1972, InterDigital is listed on NASDAQ and is included in the S&P MidCap 400® index.

InterDigital is a registered trademark of InterDigital, Inc.

For more information on InterDigital’s work in 5G, please visit the InterDigital vault.

 

About CONNECT at Trinity College Dublin
CONNECT is Ireland’s national research centre for Future Networks and Communications. We are focussed on three major areas of research; Network-aware services, Service-aware networks and The Internet of Things. CONNECT is headquartered at Trinity College Dublin. It is jointly funded by Science Foundation Ireland and by industry. Today, CONNECT engages with over 35 companies including large multinationals, SMEs and start-ups. CONNECT brings together world-class expertise from 10 Irish academic institutes to create a one-stop-shop for telecommunications research & development and innovation.

Real Wireless and Tech4i2 to evaluate licence-exempt equipment across Europe

Real Wireless and Tech4i2 are undertaking a study for the European Commission, to assess the extent and range of licence-exempt equipment being sold and used in the EU between now and 2030. The study will be used to help the European Commission in its goal of making available sufficient licence-exempt spectrum, harmonised at EU level, for future wireless innovation.

Concluding in September 2015, the study will enable a clearer understanding of the use of harmonised frequency bands by different categories of radio equipment in Europe, essential information for planning current and future spectrum requirements and managing congestion. It will also examine how the condition of such equipment differs between Europe and other regions.

This report follows previous work by the European Commission in constructing an inventory of equipment operating in licensed spectrum.

The analysis will cover the full range of license-exempt equipment: from Wi-Fi to garage door openers, baby monitors, and even key fobs. It will both consider whether the use of such equipment fits into existing spectrum without excessive congestion, and identify new bands where positive action could be taken to stimulate currently dormant – but potentially valuable – markets.

“The European Commission is keen to promote the shared use of radio spectrum resources, in order to foster innovation in new and existing markets,” said Professor Simon Saunders, Director of Technology at Real Wireless. “Real Wireless brings extensive expertise in both assessing the current landscape, and providing a detailed forecast of future spectrum requirements that can be used by regulators and businesses across Europe.”

“This will be an important study for how the European Commission examines harmonised spectrum, and could impact a significant number of current and future markets,” said Professor Paul Foley, Director at Tech4i2. “At a workshop in Brussels on 10th March 2015 we will be presenting an overview of the project to interested stakeholders. As part of this, we will be seeking responses from attendees to our initial research, which will highlight current capacity, as well as potential radio equipment and spectrum requirements to 2030.  To find out more see the project’s LinkedIn group here.

The results of the Real Wireless and Tech4i2 study will support the implementation of the Article 9 “Inventory” of the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP), developing a reliable approximation approach for assessing the medium and long-term spectrum usage densities in harmonised licence-exempt bands.   It will also compare devices and spectrum policies for licence-exempt spectrum in Europe and the US as input to discussions on achieving greater trans-Atlantic scale economies for radio equipment in the context of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Competition: the consumer’s friend?

For a relatively small country with 60 million inhabitants, the UK has four (or six, depending on how you count shared networks) operators competing for subscribers.

Add MVNOs in equation and the contrast between the UK and others – like the US – become readily apparent.

The immediate impact of this is good news for consumers. The options on offer mean UK operators need to prioritise low prices to stand out; in fact average revenue per user in the UK can be as low as a third of that in the US.

However the long-term consequences of this could well be hindering the UK – something that is often forgotten about when discussing how the market will develop.

Low pricing for consumers results in lower profitability for operators, which in turn means a lack of investment in infrastructure. This is compounded by the fact that constructing multiple networks results in an inefficient duplication of resources, which could otherwise be used to increase network coverage, capacity and performance.

So whilst we are a small country with a high population density, coverage continues to be a real challenge. Despite being nearly 40 times the size of the UK, the United States generally enjoys far more complete coverage.

Whilst consumers therefore see low pricing as beneficial and advantageous, in the long run they ultimately receive less ‘bang for their buck’.

With profit margins shrinking in a pricing race-to-the-bottom, operators are facing hard times. It’s not hard to see these figures leading to internal pressure for consolidation – which would in turn have a negative impact on competition.

Innovation too is hampered. After all, with multiple competitors watching your every move in an attempt to capitalise on any mistakes, can we blame any operator that doesn’t want to experiment with a non-proven technology?

One would hope that this situation would ultimately self-regulate, with operators folding in times of excessive competition and springing up when potential revenue is attractive enough, but the high stakes that are currently involved in entering or leaving the market make this unlikely.

But recent EC merger decisions suggest that we are beginning to see proactive steps taken towards resolving this. Rather than obsessing over operator numbers, the focus has shifted towards policing their behaviour at the wholesale level. The thought process being that this will encourage MVNOs to compete more intensely in retailing mobile services, whilst increasing efficiency in the underlying networks and allowing network operators to reap the financial benefits from greater economies of scale.

What is implicit in this is an increased recognition of the benefits that resource sharing can bring. However, I would argue that the EC regulators will need to start thinking about more the sharing of more than just networks.

By encouraging spectrum sharing we can begin to enable access to the wide channel bandwidths, that are likely to be necessary to meet future demand for mobile broadband, and avoid exacerbating the issues surrounding spectrum scarcity we may encounter in the future – something that Sweden, France and Mexico have already begun considering.