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.