Next Generation Wireless Communication (5G): Transforming the Wireless User Experience

As 4G standards have completed in 2011 and networks are beginning to be deployed, the attention of the mobile research community is shifting towards what will be the next set of innovations in wireless communication technologies which we will refer to collectively as “5G” (5th Generation technologies).  Given a historical 10-year cycle for every generation of cellular advancement, it is expected that networks with 5G technologies will be deployed around 2020.  While 4G standards were designed to meet requirements issued by the International Telecommunications Union-Radio (ITU-R), no definition for what comes beyond 4G is available yet.  The most salient requirement for 4G standards has been peak service rates of 100 Mbit/s for high mobility users and 1 Gbit/s for low mobility users. Experts vary in opinion whether the next generation of cellular networks will continue to enhance peak service rates further, or move to newer metrics such as area spectral efficiency or energy efficiency, or even define new metrics around service quality and user experience. 


From the perspective of a person using a wireless device however, the communication requirements are clear.   We want to be connected all the time:  to the internet, to the cloud, and to the various devices in our lives, from phone to PC to tablet to TV to our car.  We expect to access a rich set of services regardless of where we are:  at home, at the office, or outdoors.  This poses challenging requirements on the wireless network which must not only meet minimal service rate requirements, but also provide a uniform service experience regardless of where we are or which device we are using.  Moreover, our expectations of connectivity will increasingly include personalized service enhancements.  These enhancements will leverage context information associated with our application service, our device, and us.  We believe that improvements in the connectivity experience will stimulate innovation in new services and devices that will enrich our lives beyond what we can envision today. 


Intel Labs has recently announced the formation of an Intel Strategic Research Alliance (ISRA) (“5G: Transforming the Wireless User Experience”) to explore technologies for tomorrow’s wireless networks through collaborative university research.  Such technologies should dramatically improve user experience in the face of rapidly growing data volume in wireless networks, rapidly growing number of wireless devices, and increasingly rich and varied requirements of application services.


The ISRA has the following goals:

  1. Enable a rich wireless user experience.  5G technologies must provide a dramatic increase in network capacity to address the rising demand for rich multimedia content and to address the service requirements for billions of future devices.
  2. Ensure pervasive user connectivity.   5G technologies must insure a uniform experience throughout the network by offering a consistent level of connectivity and connection quality.  This is irrespective user location and interference from other users.
  3. Provide high service quality and user personalization.  5G technologies must leverage application data characteristics and user context to tailor service quality to the user.  Beyond individual user requirements, this also serves to maximize the efficiency of information transfer within the network.


Since late 2012, the University Research Office has undertaken an extensive review process to select outstanding proposals from university research teams around the world to participate in the ISRA.  Researchers are looking at a range of topics including enabling new spectrum, improving spectral efficiency and spectral reuse, intelligent use of multiple radio access technologies, and use of context awareness to improve quality of service and wireless device power efficiency.  Several projects have been selected representing leading wireless universities worldwide, including University of Southern California, New York University, Princeton, Stanford, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Texas at Austin, University Fabra Pompeu, Purdue University, Cornell, IIT Delhi, University of California at Los Angeles, Rice University, and Macquarie University.  It is expected that this program will grow as additional partners’ sign on to join the program, including wireless operators and ecosystem partners. Intel was pleased to continue its university research collaboration with Verizon who became our first industry partner in the effort.


For more information on the ISRA, contact one of the following team members.


David Ott (University Research Office, Intel Labs), Program Director

Shilpa Talwar (Wireless Communications Lab, Intel Labs), Program Champion

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