5G: Personal Mobile Internet beyond What Cellular Did to Telephony

CTN Issue: May 2014 IEEE Communications Magazine

Cellular technology has dramatically changed our society and the way we communicate. First it changed voice telephony, then moved into data access, applications, and services. However, the Internet has not yet been fully exploited by cellular systems. With the advent of 5G we will have the opportunity to leapfrog beyond current Internet capabilities.

Our work and play today requires obtaining and sharing information from various sources. Today most of the information and data known to mankind has been digitized in one form or another, and is available for consumption and sharing. Accessing the data which is stored and consumed in various formats reliably and efficiently is a challenge.  We need to provide as much capacity as we can, and ensure that we build an efficient and smart architecture that can accommodate future demands for 5G data communications.

Beyond our need for communication and sharing is the need to steer/control elements of our surroundings and environment such as gadgets, sensors, and machines help us carry out our day-today life more efficiently. Once machines become connected, the next natural leap is to have them controlled remotely. This will generate a complete new paradigm for control communications. Today we enjoy the power of telephony and data communications. Our fourth generation (4G) networks enable real-time access to richer content and enable early application of machine type communication, while control communications is in its infancy.

The mobile industry has a rich history of revolutionary applications and technologies that have shaped the daily lives of their customers. First came the need for untethered telephony,’ made real by the success of cordless phones. Then came cellular phones which allowed further mobility of users. This was followed by the success of cellular text messaging.  With the success of wireless LAN technology (WiFi based on the IEEE 802.11 standard), Internet browsing, and the widespread market adoption of laptop computers, untethered Internet data connectivity became a reality and ultimately a necessity for everyone. This phenomenon opened the market for cellular broadband wireless data connectivity. The next logical step was to combine a subset of laptop functions for mobile use and merge it with the cellular telephone, creating today’s smartphone. We now enjoy access to the world’s information at our fingertips, anytime, anywhere. But, is this the end game? Is everything else going to be evolutionary? As difficult as it is to predict, history has shown that the future is ripe for transformations and inventions, especially since we are far away from an ideally connected world.

In the early days of telephony we could not have predicted the applications and devices we have today. Similarly it is difficult to envision how we will use 5G systems in 2020. We do know that the thirst for data will continue, and we need to provide more and more capacity as time goes by far beyond two to three times the spectral efficiency and an order of magnitude capacity improvement from 4G.

Title and author(s) of the original paper in IEEE Xplore:

Title: 5G: Personal Mobile Internet beyond What Cellular Did to Telephony
Author(s): G. Fettweis and S. Alamouti
This paper appears in: IEEE Communications Magazine
Issue Date: February 2014

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