What 5G is about: an alternative view


What’s 5G about? An interesting word game

How much do you know about 5G? Have you been following the relentless flow of 5G news? If you were to choose 5 words to describe 5G, which ones would you pick?

It would be interesting to see what you think 5G is about. But what if we were to ask those who have absolutely no knowledge of 5G and would play such a word game without any preconception, just for fun?

As discussed with 2 friends who needed to entertain a group of primary school children at a party, the following game could potentially be exciting:

  • Use a one-page document with abstracts from high-level articles referencing important 5G words as per the current industry focus
  • Ask the little ‘experts’ to pick a noun from this document starting with each one of the letters in FIVEG, i.e. choose 5 nouns in total
  • Award a point to whoever has selected the most popular noun for each letter, and then add the points per person to announce the winner (or winners)

In the end, the FIVEG game was not played exactly as planned, but proved quite popular (especially with adults). What follows is the result of this – far from scientific – approach to determining 5 words (nouns) that ‘best’ describe 5G, along with a few relevant comments.

F is for flexibility

A clear winner! Flexibility is a key 5G feature. Previous standards have focused on a particular service or set of related services, e.g. data download for 4G. In contrast, 5G aims to enable a multitude of use cases with diverse throughput, latency, etc. requirements. Interestingly, this flexibility is not restricted to optimally supporting applications we are aware of, such as autonomous drone flying. The 5G vision is to also cater for applications we have not yet conceived.

I is for intelligence

IoT (Internet of Things) almost made it, but intelligence prevailed. Mobile networks have gradually become ‘smarter’, through concepts such as self-optimization. 5G will rely on advanced, real-time analytics to automate and orchestrate complex operations across a hybrid – physical and virtual – network infrastructure. Of particular interest will be the 5G ability to foresee network issues and user needs, and take appropriate action. This is where artificial intelligence is also expected to play a part.

V is for verticals

Well, just about, as virtualization was popular too. The relevance of 5G to other industries – automotive, transport, logistics, health, manufacturing, media & entertainment (to name a few) – has been a major topic of discussion. It is not surprising that verticals have been encouraged to get involved in 5G standardization, and (some) have formed associations with mobile industry players to drive their sector-specific 5G requirements.

E is for experience

A close call, with efficiency and ecosystem also strong contenders. 5G promises to focus on the true customer – and use case specific – experience. This will not be limited to fiber-like mobile network performance, built upon consistently high data throughput and low latency. 5G is to enable personalized and contextual experience through responding to customer/device needs in real time, i.e. in a matter of milliseconds. Such capabilities would form the foundation of a customer/device driven network experience approach as 5G transforms the current, cell-centric operational model.

G is for guesswork

No, our ‘experts’ did not opt for generation. Similar to any new technology, there is inevitably some guesswork involved here. A number of analysts have hailed 5G as the ultimate mobile standard that will impact the way we live, even though the business case today may be debatable. Others doubt whether 5G can deliver on the stratospheric expectations, and have predicted that the 6G discussion will start soon after 5G standardization. Even the timelines of launching 5G based on the 3GPP standards are anyone’s guess.

So, here you are: 5G is about flexibility, intelligence, verticals, experience, and guesswork.

What do you think? If you would like to learn more about 5G or understand how service providers should approach 5G, contact NetworkMarketing@amdocs.com.

Image courtesy of Michael

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