The CEPT Workshop on 5G was organised by the Electronic Communications Committee and took place over three days from 2-4 November 2016 at BNetzA, Mainz, Germany. It gathered approximately 150 participants, including delegates from CEPT members, from mobile industry, from vertical industries and from administrations outside Europe. It was organised in seven work sessions surrounded by the opening keynotes and a final panel session.
While the primary goal of the workshop was to contribute to the development of the CEPT roadmap for 5G as outlined in our previous article, it also offered the opportunity to gather in one single event a range of valuable information and views on the "healthy hype" around 5G.
This article focuses on industry views and information from outside Europe.
The introduction of 5G is set to revolutionise key industries throughout the world, from critical services to mobile communications and smart transport. 5G will bring multimedia into our everyday lives. It will improve augmented reality and automate industrial processes.
It was essential that the CEPT Workshop on 5G heard from industry. The second day of the workshop was mostly dedicated to hearing from a selection of providers, manufacturers and operators, who gave a fascinating insight into their requirements for 5G and how it will assist them in expanding their services. "5G is building on previous mobile communication generations but it will help in evolution of certain industries," said Michele Zarri, a representative of the mobile operators (GSMA).
The first 5G specification in 3GPP Release 15 is planned to be available by September 2018, and will address the more pressing commercial needs. The second release, 3GPP Release 16, planned for March 2020, will address all-use cases and requirements. There is already some progress, with new radio access technology targeted for completion by June 2017.
It's not just industry that is making progress. Dr Werner Mohr of Nokia and the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5GPP) said the deadline of 2020 has "created huge momentum globally in research and standards bodies" and encouraged "consensus building". "In our consortia, we have involved vendors, network operators, the research community, small and medium sized enterprises. These projects are not only involving European partners. We have partners also from North America, China, Japan and North Korea. That means these regions which have the biggest impacts in standards and regulatory bodies are also involved in these projects."
There are a number of technological challenges for both devices and infrastructure to achieve the performance aims of 5G. In 5G, the network will need to adapt to the application, so flexibility and configuration is key.
Luigi Ardito of Qualcomm said there were many challenges for devices but that chipsets are already being produced for millimetre Wave (mmWave) frequency bands. This, he said, is good news for industry. However, Mr Ardito emphasised that 5G is not just mmWave; lower frequencies are also needed.
Debora Gentina from Huawei discussed the backhaul challenges and evolution trends, and the role of mmWave. Shorter networks and shorter hops are becoming more prevalent with 90% of link distances less than 10 km. Options include increasing channel width, carrier aggregation or going to mmWave bands. A major overhaul of infrastructure for 5G will be needed, including fixed links backhaul over longer distances.
5G covers a range of potential usage scenarios, which have different operational and technological requirements, as shown below.
These operational and technological requirements will lead to different regulatory needs. For example, some vertical industries would like to possess their own spectrum due to the fact that their businesses involve mission critical aspects.
For the most part, industry would prefer harmonisation of tuning ranges as it allows businesses to operate across markets, overcoming regional differences.
Ludwig Winkel of Siemens and ZVEI, the German electric and electronic manufacturers' association, said unified world-wide access to spectrum is the practical solution for industry, as manufacturers and vendors tap into worldwide markets. "It is absolutely necessary to have a regulations as well as spectrum that are worldwide available," he said.
Ulrich Rehfuess of Nokia and Digital Europe, the body that represents the digital technology industry in Europe, said harmonisation "really is key for the supply industry to be able to provide on large ecosystems efficiently across products". He believes that regulators should keep the global picture in mind.
Quan Yu from Huawei and GSA said: "Most stakeholders agree we need a global standard. It is very important to maximise economies of scale." Therefore a sub-30 GHz tuning range should be the most proficient for manufacturers as it could encompass Europe's preferred 26 GHz band while having a possibility of using equipment developed for the 28 GHz band which is not available in Europe but is used in the USA and some Asian countries. Similarly, a 40 GHz tuning range could encompass the USA 38 GHz band and the 42 GHz band.
Alexander Geurtz from SES, one of the world's largest commercial satellite operators, said that satellite could go some way to strengthen the overall 5G value proposition, and satellite capabilities can be incorporated seamlessly into 5G. Major advantages of satellite technologies are coverage of any area in the world and rapid deployment where needed.
During the workshop, views on 5G requirements were presented by representatives from various vertical industries, including automotive, railways, media and broadcast, utilities, home automation, industrial automation and public safety.
A recurring theme was that the majority of vertical industries would like 5G to be available as soon as possible in order to cover their growing spectrum needs, based on ongoing technology developments in order to improve their services. There are commercial pressures to be the first past the post. Several speakers recognised the importance of collaborating with other sectors and standardisation bodies. While different industries might focus on different requirements, some common views emerged:
Another interesting element of the workshop was the session that heard different perspectives from beyond Europe. A number of international speakers shared their experiences with 5G. They included those from: the Inter-American Telecommunications Commission (CITEL); the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT); the Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications (RCC); the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) and the Arab Spectrum Management Group (ASMG).
The preparations for WRC-19 are in the early stages in the different regional groups, and most do not have preliminary positions agreed yet. CITEL stressed the importance of working together and developing propositions which will lead to international solutions that make sense to everyone.
5G developments are also ongoing in individual countries. Trials of 5G technology are expected to begin worldwide in 2017, though China has already started to carry out trials and sees large opportunities for outdoor deployment in the 24 to 40 GHz range. Initially, many trials will focus on spectrum below 6 GHz. Japan will examine spectrum both below 6 GHz and above 24 GHz. While 2020 is the headline year for 5G deployment, pre-5G deployment will take place over the next four years. By the end of next year the stage will be set "with a vision of spectrum and technology agreed".
Large sporting events like the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo provide the perfect opportunities to showcase the power of 5G. In a fast-moving, impatient industry, many tech businesses don't want to hold out until 2020.
ETSI outlined the support and tools available in the ETSI Centre for Testing & Interoperability. In fact, work in this area for BB-PPDR protocol conformance and interoperability specifications is already on-going, and it will also include 'plug-testing' in the future. This news was welcomed at the workshop, and several countries indicated that they see the need for standardised solutions supported by multiple vendors.
It didn't end there. Other issues of interest included a discussion around the feasibility of linking the BB-PPDR network to government IT networks and BB-PPDR terminals roaming on commercial mobile networks.
Status reports and national case studies from various countries (France, Nordic countries, United Kingdom) were also presented. Roadmaps and the main expected challenges were reported to give a good overview of what can be expected for national implementation of BB-PPDR networks:
The workshop also provided a platform for industry and stakeholder associations to provide their perspective. This allowed some reflection on the CEPT spectrum harmonisation approach and standardisation activities. It also identified challenges which are still to be solved:
Stella Lyubchenko and Peter Faris, spectrum experts ECO