MWC16: 5G Cellular Speeds Along, Verizon Targets 2017

Supporters envision 4K streaming, competitor to wireless broadband
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5G wireless is competing with smartphone introductions for the wireless spotlight at Mobile World Congress, where the wireless industry talked up visions of 25Gbps data throughout, 4K video streaming to moving vehicles, and 360-degree virtual-reality streaming.

5G will also enable car-to-car communication and new IoT applications.

5G’s potential includes the ability to “significantly reduce latency, allow ultra-fast download and upload speeds, improve spectral efficiency and network reliability, provide fixed access to homes and businesses, and substantially increase the number of devices that can simultaneously connect to the network,” Ericsson said.

Current real-world LTE speeds are measured in Mbps, with the big four carriers delivering media download speeds of 5Mbps to 20Mbps or more in various markets, a RootMetrics survey of second-half network speeds shows.

Latency measures the time it takes to press play on a video-streaming app and for the video to start streaming. Latency will drop to as little as 1 to 5 milliseconds, AT&T has said, compared to LTE’s 10ms to 30ms network latency. AT&T has also said 5G will also deliver long battery life up to 10 years for IoT sensors.

For his part, T-Mobile U.S. CTO Neville Ray said 5G “will be key in the development of the internet of things, enabling new applications for smart vehicles and transport architecture, remote control of heavy machinery in hazardous environments, remote surgery, and new levels of human-IoT interaction including immersive augmented reality and immersive gaming.”

Ericsson forecasts 150 million 5G subscriptions worldwide by the end of 2021.

Verizon announced that it wants to launch 5G service in 2017. Other U.S. carriers haven’t released timetables.

Before the show, AT&T announced it will move 5G trials out of the lab and into the field later this year.

Here are some key announcements made at the show:

Cisco:  The company said it will work with Ericsson and Intel to develop and trial a 5G router for business and residential services to bring fast wireless Internet services to homes and businesses.

Ericsson: The infrastructure company said tests of field-trial-ready Ericsson 5G base-station radio prototypes are already achieving more than 25Gbps mobile throughput.

The Ericsson radios incorporate such technologies as multi-user MIMO to accommodate more users with the same spectrum in one sector of a site. And beam tracking tracks the position and movements of a given device and points one of more beams from multiple transmission points in the best direction for that device.

Verizon: In 5G field trials held with Verizon in February, Ericsson 5G radio prototypes hit more than 10Gbps peak throughput speeds. Verizon also said it has tested fixed and mobile usage indoors and outdoors, 4K video streaming to a moving vehicle, HD video to indoor devices, and 360-degree virtual-reality streaming.

T-Mobile: The carrier will team up with Ericsson to develop a 5G pre-standards based test system for lab and field trials in the U.S., with trials beginning in the second half.

LG: The company is working with Intel to develop and pilot 5G-based telematics technology, which they said will delivers data more than 33 times faster than 4G LTE and with latency expected to drop to about a tenth of current LTE latency even at high speeds. 5G will also enable high-speed over-the-air software upgrades to telematics systems and deliver faster downloads of videos and other multimedia content to an infotainment system, the companies said.

5G will also enable communication from vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to infrastructure, or vehicle to pedestrian to prevent accidents.

LG is the exclusive supplier of vehicle telematics for GM's 4G LTE OnStar telematics system.

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