LIVE FROM WWRF/techUK 5G HUDDLE: Chih Lin I, China Mobile’s chief scientist of wireless technologies, listed the fundamental changes to network design that will occur with 5G – and then decided to throw in a subtle name change too.
She explained how the crucial aspects of the network will need rethinking, including essential tenets which have been accepted since the industry’s inception, including its traditional cell centric design.
“Even with 4G, we basically stuck [with a] classic cellular idea.” But with 5G, the industry will move away from this approach, said the China Mobile scientist (pictured). Likewise, signalling control will face a rethink because its current design is not optimised for apps. She also forecast changes to a number of other areas, including antenna, infrastructure and spectrum. Together they represented “six pearls for 5G”.
And another suggestion was for a renaming, albeit a slight but significant one: “What we call 5G should be renamed 5G Era because that is a wide sense of 5G. In the past we talked about 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G in a quite narrow sense of next-generation mobile standards that is defined by standards bodies such as 3GPP. But going forward the collective 5G vision all of us have I think should be properly renamed 5G Era vision.”
The reason is that 5G may be coming in the future from multiple infrastructures, and not be just 3GPP defined infrastructure, she said.
Finally, the China Mobile exec revealed some stats that give an idea of why China Mobile is so intrinsic to the future development of mobile networks.
The Chinese giant has a total of 2 million basestation sites, of which about 900,000 are 2G, 500,000 for 3G and already more than 400,000 for 4G, she said.
For any other operator, a 4G user base of 20 million (July 2014 figure) would be mighty impressive, and the target of hitting 50 million by year-end, even more so.
Except China Mobile has close to 800 million subscribers in total, so 4G penetration still represents a dent in the total, at least for the time being.
And all that extra capacity will be needed – the operator has experienced 81 times traffic growth in the last five years.