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5G: Almost here

This year’s Mobile World Congress allowed the telecoms industry to display all the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes to get us to the point where 5G roll-out is just around the corner. Sam Fenwick reports

Last year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) focused on 5G from a fixed wireless access perspective, with several stands showing off equipment intended to serve this use-case. While there was still some news around this topic at this year’s event, with Huawei saying that it will launch 2Gbps-throughput 5G commercial consumer premise equipment (CPE) this year as part of that use-case, there was also a bit more visibility around handsets. The same company announced that it intends to introduce a 5Gbps-throughput 5G smartphone to the market next year, and there is a sense that much of the R&D effort across the industry is shifting to mobility.

“In the world of 5G, the clear focus is on enhanced mobile broadband, and the December 2017 release [the early completion of the 3GPP standard for non-standalone 5G New Radio] was fully focused on that,” said Jonathan Borrill, Anritsu’s director, engineering and technology. He added that one of the remaining big challenges is the development of a standardised and interoperable way of doing and managing the beamforming and beamtracking required for millimetre wave mobility. When someone with a millimetre wave handset is on the move, the network needs to manage the beam directed at the device, while also having a candidate beam ready to replace the main beam, should it become blocked. However, he added that streaming 4K video is probably possible at sub-6GHz using multi-user MIMO without the need for the above.

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