Obstacles on the Trek 5G

By: Consuelo Azuaje

Despite the ambitious goals set forth by SK Telecom, Verizon, AT&T, and others, many are skeptical to claims of a pre-2020 5G network. Having increased by 70% in the period of a single year, 2013-2014, mobile traffic continues to surge at an astonishing rate, and standardization of 5G networks is still in the planning stage. On the user-end, mobile device limitations such as range, battery life, and size, could slow 5G's pre-2020 goal-time even more. The most realistic outcome is that major players, such as SK Telecom and Verizon, will release limited, temporary versions of 5G which offer 100 Mbps, the standards-target defined by ITU in 2015, and eventually roll out a fully-loaded network after the kinks get worked out.

High standards and device limitations aside, 5G-developers will have to design around legacy networks (which professionals have described as ”rigid” and ”proprietary”) and diverse needs which unanimously demand the ability to handle a high workload while maintaining high security. 5G standardization will have to accommodate for a huge range of low-power IoT devices on top of a massive mobile broadband which will need to be able to handle high-definition video streaming for millions of users. Similarly, future networks will have to be more efficient with energy and operating costs, as well as be more intelligent to auto-adapt to ever-changing usage of mobiles. A new approach will be needed to allocate radio frequencies, which Chief CTO of Ericsson, Ulf Ewaldsson, predicts will become as precious and scarce to the tech industry as crude is to the oil industry. Call it an Everest, a White Whale, or whatever you want—the truth is that 5G is the stuff of dreams—and nightmares. It's up to this pre-5th-gen's tech professionals to scale the mountain and slay the beast—to boldly going where...well, let’s just say there's a lot to be done here.