5G: A Matter Of Protocol

If 5G is to be affordable, and workable, and meet the very different vertical use cases proposed for it, then it will need to rely on a single common infrastructure that is very different from the mobile network we know today.

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5G has many different end use cases, but they must all be delivered over and from the same network. This is just not possible using current control plane and data networking architectures. Therefore 5G will need new ones. It’s fine to say that 5G can evolve from LTE-A-PRO and will build incrementally from sub6GHz radio innovation and so on. But when it comes right down to it, 5G – understood in terms of its ability to genuinely deliver new business models and use cases – will need a new architecture.

There are several recent developments at national and international level that indicate the world is starting to realise this. “It has to be the same network,” says a senior network architect at a T1 operator. “It has to be integrated onto a common infrastructure. We just cannot afford to build dedicated networks. Networks can be sliced, but it has to be on a common infrastructure.”

This is the crux of the matter in 5G architecture.

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