Although standards for the networking platform have not officially been set, a new study from GSMA predicts that the 5G connections will number above a billion by 2025. The study, titled "The 5G Era: Age of Boundless Connectivity and Intelligent Automation," surveyed 750 operator CEOs and other stakeholders from across the mobile industry and was revealed on February 27 – just in time for MWC 2017. In addition to predicting that widespread 5G mobile technology deployment should begin by 2020, the study outlines potential goals for the platform. According to GSMA General Director, Mats Granryd, 5G is an "opportunity to create an agile, purpose-built network" which can suit both the economy and citizens – enabling "richer, smarter, and more convenient living and working." However, Granryd is also careful to caution that everybody is going to need to work together to set the standards and regulate the technology once it is brought to market.
As to the goals set by "The 5G Era," there are really 5 key points which are described as only being truly possible if the leaders across the industry can "unify around a common technology standard and agree on a set of harmonized spectrum bands." The first of the goals would most likely be accomplished simply by meeting that prescribed requirement. It says that 5G needs to work in conjunction with 4G to "provide boundless connectivity for all." Second, fiscal efficiency will be required across the industry. In order to make building and maintaining networks cost-effective, the study maintains that innovation will be required. This should include, according to the GSMA study, a combination of mainstream and alternative technologies placed across both licensed and unlicensed spectrum. The next two points addressed by the goals are placed around the opportunities 5G will present – namely that 5G will not just be a "mobile" platform. 5G will likely drive the digitization and automation of industrial practices and processes. That platform will also almost certainly be the become the new backbone both for cloud and AI based services since 5G is capable of providing broadband networks up to 1Gbps with latency below 10 milliseconds. Finally, a goal is set to drive growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) and critical communications services.
Many companies are already actively pursuing the goals outlined in the study. For example, Qualcomm recently announced that its X50 mobile modem will support technologies from 2G through 5G. That may allow for devices that can access a variety of networks, switching on the fly as needed – a huge plus for automation, interconnectivity, and AI-driven solutions. Meanwhile, carriers and associated networking providers are also pushing the limits of their current technologies to better situate those networks for massively increased traffic and a demand for higher speeds. While the goal to usher in a truly connected era may initially seem somewhat lofty, it is important to remember a couple of things. Bear in mind that some of the technology which will require better networks to reach its full potential is already here or soon to arrive. Every advance to mobile networking is also bringing new innovations that maybe weren't even plausible ideas before.