Ultra-low latencies 5G’s biggest opportunity and challenge, claims new report

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Ultra-low latency is telcos' biggest challenge and chief 5G upgrade driver, a new survey has found, which also claims the majority of companies see the technology as an evolutionary step from LTE.

The report from IHS revealed 54 percent of telcos felt 5G amounted to an extension of existing LTE, LTE-Advanced and LTE-Advanced Pro technology. The remainder thought it was revolutionary and required a brand new kind of architecture.

The survey also found three quarters of respondents thought 5G should co-exist with LTE and LTE-Advanced, which researchers said leant further weight to the argument that the technology will be evolutionary.

Stéphane Téral, Senior Research Director, Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics, said: "This year’s 5G survey clearly indicates that 5G developments are booming and well underway with pre-commercial trials set for 2017–2018 and commercial deployments starting in 2020 or later. Because the 5G standard won’t be available until 2020, this ongoing 5G race is quickly leading to a marketing battle around what 5G truly is, similar to what happened with 4G versus LTE in 2010."

Téral added there was "substantial" work ahead at defining 5G. The International Telecommunications Union needs to establish the performance requirements of 5G radio systems, based on the variety of use cases and scenarios.

The research said the Internet of Things is seen as the most popular use case, highlighted by 79 percent of operator respondents, compared to 55 percent when the survey was conducted in 2015.

Last week, Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom announced they would take their 5G research project transcontinental. The project is using the likes of network functions virtualisation, software defined networking and distributed cloud and network slicing to help speed up standardisation efforts.