Sophia Antipolis, 29 April 2016

ETSI's 5G summit, "from Myth to Reality", held last week at ETSI, attracted nearly 250 attendees. The summit focused on three key drivers for future 5G networks: massive mobile broadband, massive machine-type communication and ultra‚Äźreliable and low latency communication. The summit was composed of four sessions of presentations, posters and panel discussions with speakers from across industry sectors.

The first session addressed policy aims and expectations around 5G. The European Commission indicated that standards were of essence for the digitization of the economy. They have identified 5G mobile communications as one of the key technologies that would lead to growth, innovation and jobs (the others being clouds, Internet of Things, cybersecurity and big data). Case studies from the 5GPPP research project covered the impact of 5G in manufacturing, eHealth, energy, automotive, media and entertainment sectors. The panel discussion addressed the issue of spectrum allocation and regulation which needed to work for 5G. The discussion also identified the need for the telecoms sector and other industry sectors to work together.

Mobile broadband evolution was the topic of the second session of the day. It considered the need to cope with different or conflicting demands at the same time. Use of different frequency bands depending on the nature of the communications (e.g. long range, large volume, short range), flexible network architectures and multiple radio technologies can all be combined to offer 'better bits', a higher quality of service rather than simply an increased peak bitrate. 5G is also expected to offer a richer and more immersive experience in broadcast with an object based broadcasting approach rather than linear or traditional broadcasting.

The third session addressed the issue of massive M2M communication and the challenges we face with the Internet of Things. Big data, energy efficiency, low cost, long range, short range, real time, and scalable data are all requirements but they cannot all be addressed by the same technology. Industry users must be involved in standardization work at an early stage as they do not all have the same needs and demands. Omnipresent communications may cause high interference; spectrum management expertise is all the more important. Perhaps the Internet of Things is moving too fast, failing to address issues such as security, privacy, interoperability, spectrum, legacy equipment, and creating issues for future resolution.

The final session dealt with ultra-reliable and low latency networks. Connected industry (industry 4.0) and other sectors such as healthcare or automotive (autonomous vehicles) can generate new opportunities for telecoms operators in value-added applications with low latency, high reliability and high availability. The Tactile Internet is a promising research topic in the healthcare sector. Technologies such as Mobile Edge Computing may prove essential in this domain. Panelists reminded the audience that collecting requirements from different stakeholders was essential and might lead to decisions where for instance security and low latency may be a trade-off.

The summit impressed upon delegates just how real 5G was, with standardization on the topic already underway. It was also an event where personal networking was just as important as telecoms networking. A recurring theme was the need to bring different industry sectors together and achieve a greater understanding of each other's' needs when developing 5G systems. This summit provided just such an opportunity.

About ETSI
ETSI produces globally-applicable standards for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), including fixed, mobile, radio, aeronautical, broadcast and internet technologies and is officially recognized by the European Union as a European Standards Organization. ETSI is an independent, not-for-profit association whose over 800 member companies and organizations, drawn from 66 countries, determine its work programme and participate directly in its work.

Claire Boyer
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