The last few years have witnessed a tremendous growth of the demand for wireless services and a significant increase of the number of mobile subscribers. A recent data traffic forecast from Cisco reported that the global mobile data traffic reached 1.2 zettabytes per year in 2016, and the global IP traffic will increase nearly threefold over the next 5 years. Based on these predictions, a 127-fold increase of the IP traffic is expected from 2005 to 2021. It is also anticipated that the mobile data traffic will reach 3.3 zettabytes per year by 2021, and that the number of mobile-connected devices will reach 3.5 per capita.
With such demands for higher data rates and for better quality of service (QoS), fifth generation (5G) standardization initiatives, whose initial phase was specified in June 2018 under the umbrella of Long Term Evolution (LTE) Release 15, have been under vibrant investigation. In particular, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has identified three usage scenarios (service categories) for 5G wireless networks: (i) enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), (ii) ultra-reliable and low latency communications (uRLLC), and (iii) massive machine type communications (mMTC). The vast variety of applications for beyond 5G wireless networks has motivated the necessity of novel and more flexible physical layer (PHY) technologies, which are capable of providing higher spectral and energy efficiencies, as well as reduced transceiver implementations.
1. IEEE Signal Processing Magazine
2. Signal Processing Digital Library*
3. Inside Signal Processing Newsletter
4. SPS Resource Center
5. Career advancement & recognition
6. Discounts on conferences and publications
7. Professional networking
8. Communities for students, young professionals, and women
9. Volunteer opportunities
10. Coming soon! PDH/CEU credits
Click here to learn more.
10 years of news and resources for members of the IEEE Signal Processing Society
5G technology, with its promises of self-driving vehicles and immersive virtual reality, will be a data-hungry generation of wireless communications. But engineers have been so preoccupied with designing and building the low-latency networks for these emerging applications that they’ve neglected the rest of our vast, tangled telecom networks. The result is that there’s now a growing gap between the capabilities of the fixed and mobile sides of these networks. Michael Koziol present an article in Spectrum in December 2018 in which he claims that Now’s the Time to Think About What Comes After 5G. In the article, he claims that we should think of the mobile side as the antennas and radio waves that deliver data to our devices. This is the side that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years with the advent of beamforming and millimeter waves. The fixed side is everything else—the cables, fibers, and switches that handle our long-distance communications. The United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency that coordinates telecom infrastructure between countries, launched a focus group in August to address this emerging imbalance in wireless communications.
There’s no guarantee that today’s fixed networks can meet the demands of 5G, Li says. 5G promises low latency but has little to say on the topic of throughput. Low latency is meaningless if so many data packets move through the network that they cause continuous delays.
For example, people using VR goggles feel dizzy if the delay between when they look at something and when their screen refreshes is 20 milliseconds or more. If 5G delivers low enough latency to handle image capturing, framing, transmitting, displaying—everything needed for VR experiences—in 20 ms, that will leave only 5 to 7 ms to transport the data through the network in both directions, Li estimates. Most fixed networks simply don’t have a high-enough throughput to move all that data without requiring it to wait at switches and routers.
The next generation, 6G, will likely bring applications with even higher throughput requirements. Li says autonomous vehicles, massive machine-type communications, tactile Internet, and holographic communications are all on the table for the coming years. But the current fixed side won’t be able to withstand the coming surge. Li says the Network 2030 group isn’t going to play catch-up to 5G, nor does he want the group to think in terms of what 6G might be. Instead, he’s prepared to take a broad view of what future generations of communication technology will bring and what they might require of the network’s backbone. “Fixed networks that will be able to support 6G networks: That’s the key,” he says.
© Copyright 2019 IEEE – All rights reserved. Use of this website signifies your agreement to the IEEE Terms and Conditions.
A not-for-profit organization, IEEE is the world's largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.