Hitting the headlines as early as 2014, 5G has gone from far-off pipe dream to one of the most eagerly anticipated tech breakthroughs of recent years.
When MNO’s set out their ambitious 5G timelines, many targeted 2020 as the year that we’d see widespread coverage. And with 5G reaching a bunch of important milestones last year, it’s crunch time.
Here’s what we’re expecting for the year ahead.
Ofcom will hold a spectrum auction
We’ve previously hinted about a potential upcoming spectrum auction—auctions held to release more airwaves to companies in order to improve mobile broadband capacity and services. And it now looks like an auction in the millimetre waves zone of the frequency spectrum is firmly on the horizon.
If not an auction, 2020 will at least see a clear roadmap for such an auction so that the network operators in the UK can prepare themselves.
Small cell deployments are in the works
As airwaves are sold off in the spectrum auction, the need for small cells will become clear. As the ultimate solution for indoor outage areas such as basements, small cells will be lifesavers for the propagation losses that happen in millimetre wave-based connectivity.
And that’s good news for Channel Partners—such an advent in network architecture means closed access small cells can be purchased (for much cheaper than their counterparts, the macro-cells) and used in the outage areas.
We’ll also see the initial release of self-backhauled small cells, which can be connected directly to the core network.
Network slicing will take center stage
Countries leading 5G innovation are already geared towards making 5G a game changer for all vertical industries associated with it—and network slicing will take centre stage in realising the promised potential of 5G’s unique business cases.
China Telecomm and ZTE have already announced the successful commission of the first network slicing project, in which a blend of “5G Slicing, Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), and Artificial intelligence-based manufacturing” are covered.
Partners should keep their eyes peeled for a whole host of game changing projects under the umbrella of 5G network slicing in 2020.
The possibility of 5G-only phones
According to IEEE Spectrum , current 5G phones are battery killers.
Due to 5G’s infancy, devices might give you insanely high data rates, but at the cost of losing your battery far faster than you would on a 4G network.
We can definitely expect to see cell phone manufacturers put in heavy investments to overcome this issue—whoever reaches the market with a solution to the battery-vampire issue will of course capture the end-user market!
We can also expect roll-outs for 5G networks that don’t require a legacy 4G/3G core network. This kind of stand alone roll-out is perhaps the biggest hint of stand-alone 5G phones becoming a reality.
National 5G coverage will become a core focus for network operators
As 5G begins to move from its infancy, and small cell deployment and network slicing trials kick off, coverage will become the hot topic of 2020.
And with the race to be first to market with 5G phones, network operators will be expecting a surge in demand for 5G—a demand that will only be fruitful if they can provide full national coverage in 2020.
The good news? IoT business and mission critical services should brace themselves, as 3GPP has already promised dedicated network slices for both cases.
Safe to say, this is the year when things get real for 5G
But remember: 2020 isn’t just crunch time for operators.
This is the perfect time to get your own plans in place—before your competition does.
Whether you want to launch a new project or align your current tech with 5G, talk to us. We’ll help you carve out a space for your business in the 5G story.