Megabits per Second won’t Define 5G

Earlier this month at Super Mobility Week, 5G dominated the conversation about what’s next for the wireless industry, and how that will impact network carriers and everyday people. It was clear that wireless industry is already hard at work on how to address the challenges and opportunities for 5G, as well as how we should take advantage of all the capabilities that LTE has to offer.

During the conference, I had the opportunity to join my peers, leading mobile experts from Samsung, Qualcomm and Ericsson, on a 4G Americas panel that took a closer look at where we are in the evolution to 5G and the industry’s expectations for 5G network deployments by 2020.

One thing my co-panelists and I all agreed upon is that 5G will be unlike any other wireless communication standard before it, addressing a very different set of challenges than previous generations. Whereas 1G to 4G were focused on improving connectivity and speed, 5G will be about intelligence.

What does this mean? It means 5G will not simply be about making our cellular connections faster, or adding more network capacity. It will also need to solve a more complex challenge of combining communications and computing together, so that intelligence is at a user’s fingertips and available to the machines that make up the Internet of Things. We anticipate 5G will be the first network standard designed to be versatile and energy-smart for the hyper-connected ‘Internet of everything’ world.

In this next generation standard, communication capabilities and processing power will need to be diffused and intelligently managed across networks and mobile devices, empowering even the smallest connected devices to do heavy computational tasks and deliver rich content and services through its connection to the cloud. 5G networks are expected to not only be faster, but also smarter. Therefore, the way we measure 5G network performance will be very different than before. Bits per second was a standard way of measuring network performance, but 5G will encompass much more – what I like to call bits per joule, bits per Hertz, bits per square meter of coverage and bits per dollar. This is because measurements like energy efficiency, spectrum performance, reliability and cost will be crucial for 5G.

Laying the foundation for 5G is extremely complex as we have to solve a variety of issues, but the global wireless industry is certainly making efforts and investing heavily in this new standard. Every time we think we are reaching the practical limits of data usage, new user behaviors or new consumer technologies push the envelope even farther. To meet this rapidly growing demand, wireless carriers are faced with a need to deliver an increasing amount of bandwidth to their customers, squeezing ever-more capacity out of a finite amount of spectrum.

Intel has a strong legacy of supporting wireless standardization efforts through our work with a multitude of standards bodies worldwide. Adding to those efforts, we have recently joined the 4G Americas Board of Governors to foster the advancement and full capabilities of LTE and LTE-Advanced, in the evolution toward a 5G world. Together with fellow board members from AT&T, Cisco, Sprint, HP and Ericsson, our aim is to build effective and successful communications standards that enables people from all over the world to enjoy a better user experience, anywhere and everywhere, using an assorted set of devices big and small.

The bottom line is that end users do not care about acronyms like 3G, 4G or 5G, or how a network is set up – they just want to be connected to the people and things that matter the most. Intel and our industry partners are committed to meeting their needs today and into the future.

*A version of this blog post appeared on WIRED’s Innovation Insight:

Asha Keddy

About Asha Keddy

Asha Keddy is a vice president in Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group and General Manager of the company’s Standards and Advanced Technology team. She is responsible for driving Intel’s innovation and industry standards around mobile communications, including the investigation and development of future technologies, ecosystem intelligence and collaborations, and translating these into Intel products. Current focus areas include cellular and connectivity standards, such as 3GPP, LTE, Wi-Fi, etc. Ms. Keddy has more than 17 years’ experience leading and managing wireless and mobile broadband technology and product areas, including the scaling of Intel’s WiMAX products to multiple operators and Telcos. Other strategic efforts include research in technologies such as WiMAX and PAN, MAC and cross layer systems research, performance analysis and characterization, and research on 802.16m. Keddy also led efforts in the Wi-Fi area, including end-to-end interoperability of the International Roaming Access Protocols, end-to-end performance characterization of wireless networks, and innovative test technology methods for Intel® Centrino® Mobile Technology. She holds multiple patent filings and papers on mobile broadband technologies. Keddy obtained a B.E. degree in Computer Engineering from Bombay University, India and a M.S. degree in Computer Science from Clemson University. She enjoys reading books, painting, hiking, biking and kayaking with her husband, and spending time with her beloved dog, Henna.

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