5G slides that show where we are right now

5G timelines, architecture and key technology enablers.

There was a global 5G gathering last week in Rome, headed by the European 5G-PPP but attended by operators, standards organisations, operators and 5G-related bodies from around the world.

Here are a few key slides from the event that illustrate quite nicely the consensus of where 5G is at right now. The first, from SK Telecom is not exactly revelatory, but it makes one important point – enhanced mobile broadband is not on the list. You’ve got a service that takes advantage of low system latency – and two related to IoT. SKT said that it will be making “all out efforts” to demonstrate 5G in 2017.


Although the architecture is rather high level, notice here the radio elements that SKT is piecing together in a Cloud-RAN. Its “Hyper-connected radio” featuring Massive MIMO (with Full Dimension or 3D Radio), low cost small cells, unlicensed and mmWave, new waveform.

SKT Architecture

Speaking of latency reduction, the slide below is from KDDI and it shows a desired flexibility in placement of resources across the network, showing that even within “MEC” there is a split between placing resources on the backbone or right out at the edge of the access network. The determining factor is the use case.


One factor of note is that there is also a hierarchical processing of data, from device to device to edge processing, to centralised high volume processing of complex loads.


This Ericsson slide shows the items that it identifies as still under review  as the New Radio specifications are developed: including waveform, coding, numerology, frame structure.


Huawei has publicly made its bets here on the New Radio interface, with the key building blocks being F-ODFM waveform, Sparse Coding, Polar channel Coding, Full Duplex (somewhat surprisingly?) and mmWave support. There are also shouts for the deployment of massive MIMO, Ultra Dense Networks (co-ordinated small cells) and D2D. 


 South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute presented the following vision of a train connected by mmWave “backhaul” links to remote radio heads. Just this week, you may be interested to know, NTTDoCoMo said it had demonstrated mmWave connectivity to a vehicle moving at 150kph, and it said in-train connectivity is one of the applications it envisages for this sort of capability.

Moving G backhaul


This slide from Huawei shows where it sees spectrum candidates arising on a regional basis. It’s easy to see from this why some have called 3.4GHz the pioneer band – but also do not discount the 26 and 28GHz bands, where Korea, Europe and the USA all have available variants.

Of course, covering across certain bands that sit next to each other will take some tuning, as evidenced by this slide from the USA’s FCC, where it notes near-alignment between WRC-19 proposals, and its own available candidate bands.fcc-spectrum


Here’s Orange showing how different slices can be managed within a 5G target architecture. A vRAN, vCore and vIMS – even vRRH – are constructed to serve three separate “slices” – and there’s a lot of work going on in that far right block, Management & Orchestration.


3GPP has two slides that put together, first, the elements of a functional network that must be pieced together. Note that this is NOT yet the 3GPP architecture.



So when will things happen? Here’s what the 3GPP has on its plate. Note that it leaves on element open – with decisions on which architecture to standardise taken either in December of this year or March of next.

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