Bell Labs chief shuns 5G hype

Bell Labs chief shuns 5G hype

04 MAR 2015

Bell Labs president Marcus Weldon, who is also CTO of Alcatel-Lucent, poured scorn on competitors’ “ridiculous marketing” of 5G, refusing to be sucked into the game of headline-speed announcements.

“We pride ourselves as being the most rational,” he told Mobile World Live. “Most of our competitors talk about 5Gb/s and 10Gb/s or some other number, but they’re not telling you the configuration, which is ridiculous.”

The Bell Labs chief argued that headline-grabbing 5G announcements can be an unhelpful distraction. “Everyone now expects the bar in 5G to be 5Gb/s, but it’s based on nothing,” said Weldon (Ericsson demonstrated 5Gb/s speeds in July 2014, with Samsung following soon after with a ‘record’ 7.5Gb/s demo).

Weldon prefers instead a much more nuanced 5G message. “We like to say it’s about the digitisation of everything, people and machines,” he said.

For the Bell Labs president, 5G should not be a “forced leap” in technology, but draw heavily on existing technologies. He expects 5G to re-use existing radio air interfaces – LTE, WiFi and LTE-U – under a common control plane.

Weldon, however, does see the need for a new interface. “Not because there is anything wrong with the existing one, but it’s not great for machines, as it requires devices to constantly synchronise, which consumes power.”

Alcatel-Lucent and Bell Labs are exploring a new multi-carrier waveform dubbed UFMC (Universal Filtered Multi-Carrier), which they argue has much better efficiency than OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing) – the transport mechanism underpinning LTE and LTE-Advanced systems – for handing IoT traffic.

UFMC is one of a number of new air interface candidates, sharing similar characteristics, being explored by 5GNow – 5th Generation Non-Orthogonal Waveforms for Asynchronous Signalling – a research project funded by the European Union.


Ken Wieland

Ken has been part of the MWC Mobile World Daily editorial team for the last three years, and is now contributing regularly to Mobile World Live. He has been a telecoms journalist for over 15 years, which includes eight...More

Read more