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5G World

Insights Report

In partnership with


About the authors

Foreward.............................................................. 3
The promise of 5G................................................. 4
Why do we need a new standard?...................4
LTE has provided the foundation.....................5
US and Asia will lead subscription growth......5
Current status of 5G............................................. 6
New air interface,
new network architecture................................6
Planned pre-commercial/commercial
5G World talking points ....................................... 8
Concerns over spectrum approval..................9
European operators favor lower bands...........9
Enabling IoT......................................................9
Vendors showcase their 5G solutions...........10

Julian Bright
Julian Bright is a Senior Analyst and part of Informa
Telecoms & Medias Networks team. He writes about a range
of wireless broadband technologies including LTE, WCDMA/
HSPA and Wi-Fi, and covers associated technology areas
such as small cells and hetnets, next-generation IP core
networks and IMS technologies and strategies. His specialist
areas of research include mobile access network evolution
and global spectrum availability and deployment strategies
for LTE. He is a regular speaker and session chair at Informa

2017 and beyond.............................................11

Copyright Ovum 2016. All rights reserved.

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Media Limited.

TMT intelligence informa

2016 Ovum. All rights reserved.

As the road to 5G takes shape, we are delighted to welcome you to this 5G
insights report, written by Julian Bright, Senior Analyst at Ovum. Although
there are still many question marks around 5G and network evolution, recent
commitments and investment in 5G research and development in Europe,
Asia and the US highlight the journey to 5G is well underway!
Designed to provide an overview of the current and future 5G landscape, the
report draws upon the wealth of content delivered and conversation sparked
at 5G World 2016. Held in June, 5G World brought together the entire
ecosystem to progress the 5G conversation, and showcase the products and
solutions that will shape the future of the industry. The event is part of the
5G Series, a collection of leading events across six continents, designed to
help define, develop and deliver future networks.
Through this report we are delighted to share and extend the 5G World
conversation beyond the four walls of the conference. We hope you enjoy
reading the insights in this report and look forward to welcoming you to a 5G
Series event near you.

Sam Oakley,
Senior Portfolio

2016 Ovum. All rights reserved.

TMT intelligence informa

The promise of 5G

Successive generations of mobile technology have helped to revolutionize communications by providing

access at home and on the move to a rich and seemingly limitless reserve of data services and applications.
With the coming of 5G, ubiquitous connectivity and gigabit speeds will eventually become the norm, but
more significant still is the potential impact this latest technology will have on enabling the truly connected
society. From interpersonal communication to the way businesses operate, and from manufacturing,
through transport, health, safety, government, and a host of other areas, 5Gs impact on society is expected
to be far-reaching.
How this will all take shape and identifying the challenges are now the major talking points for the
communications industry and the many stakeholders who are beginning to see the possibilities for 5G.
KNect365s 5G World event in London in June provided an opportunity to discuss and debate these important
issues, and to analyze and report progress towards the first commercial offerings based on 5G technology.

Why do we need a new standard?

The vision for 5G is that it should expand beyond the limitations of previous generations of mobile technology,
and be more than simply a platform for communication via handheld devices. As it becomes easier to
embed communications technology into more and more everyday items, the potential to construct an allencompassing network serving a multitude of different usage models becomes increasingly attractive.
The possibilities for 5G are many, but initially it is being designed to serve three very different use cases
or market segments: enhanced mobile broadband, massive Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, and ultrareliable communications. Key features of the different use cases include the following:
Enhanced mobile broadband: High speeds measured in Gbps, latency down to 1 millisecond (ms) end to
end, and the use of high-frequency spectrum bands above 6GHz.
Massive IoT: Low power consumption, low cost, and the use of low-frequency spectrum bands to provide
broad and in-building coverage.
Ultra-reliable communications: High reliability, high availability, and low latency down to 1ms end to end.
Enhanced mobile broadband services are expected to be the main use case for 5G through 2021, although
fixed broadband services will also be supported, especially in the US. Even though over time 5G will support
IoT and mission-critical communications, Ovum does not believe those use cases will be supported by
standardized 5G services through 2021.
A recent survey of 33 mobile and converged operators carried out by Ovum found varying opinions as to
what the primary characteristic of 5G would be (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: What is 5G?
One network for all broadband access (mobile, fixed, M2M)
New air interface and technologies (such as full duplex)
Radio access using higher-spectrum bands
A new way of doing business and dealing with OTT providers
Dont know




Source: Ovum

TMT intelligence informa

2016 Ovum. All rights reserved.

LTE has provided the foundation

Long Term Evolution (LTE) has proved to be the most successful wireless standard in history, and is key to
the success of 5G. According to Ovum there were 443 LTE networks in operation in 152 countries as of June
2016, with a total of 1.46 billion LTE subscribers. Already, 94 operators have progressed to the next stage
in the evolution of 4G, LTE-Advanced, which involves the deployment of carrier aggregation to optimize
operators' use of spectrum resources.
As the LTE standards continue to evolve and new technologies such as higher-order modulation and
massive MIMO become available, these networks are expected to provide a stepping stone to 5G. The next
phase is known as LTE-Advanced Pro (otherwise called 4.5G), which will provide an opportunity for some of
the new network architectures and technologies associated with 5G to start being implemented. It is already
being considered a pre-5G technology.
Government funding is also being pledged for 5G research, most recently in the US, where the Obama
administration has promised $400m for an Advanced Wireless Research Initiative to be led by the National
Science Foundation.
Industry bodies on three continents the US, Asia, and Europe are working to define the 5G networks,
while 3GPP, the body that helped to define LTE, is drawing up the technical standards. Vendors are heavily
engaged in much of the 5G research activity around the world, along with academic institutions and
standards bodies (see Table 1).
Table 1: Key research institutes and industry bodies engaged in 5G

Work area

ITU-R Working Party 5D

WP 5D is responsible for the overall radio system aspects of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) systems, including the
program to develop IMT for 2020 and beyond, which sets the stage for 5G and the research activities that are emerging around
the world.


The 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership has been initiated by the EU Commission and industry manufacturers,
telecommunications operators, service providers, SMEs, and researchers. Its role is to deliver solutions, architectures,
technologies, and standards for 5G.

IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group

Jointly established in February 2013 by three ministries in China (the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the National
Development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Science and Technology), the role of the IMT-2020 Promotion Group is
to promote research into 5G in China. Its members include the leading operators, vendors, universities, and research institutes.

Korea 5G Forum

The 5G Forum aims to promote the development of next-generation communications technology and economic growth through the
development of the ICT industry. It is supporting collaboration among all parties interested in 5G, including those in the IoT/cloud/
big data/mobile fields, as well as research institutions, manufacturers, and service providers.

New York University

NYU is a major contributor to the development of 5G in the US, including its contributions to the work of the FCC. NYU's particular
focus is on the use of spectrum bands above 24GHz for mobile radio services, and it conducts extensive research into radio
propagation, communication system design, and antenna technology.

The 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC)

at the University of Surrey

The largest UK academic research center is dedicated to the development of 5G mobile and wireless communications. It brings
together leading academic experts and key industry partners.

Source: Ovum

US and Asia will lead subscription growth

Despite the uncertainty that still surrounds the deployment and adoption of 5G, there is every indication
that the momentum seen with LTE will be at least sustained, or very probably exceeded, by 5G. Work on the
new 5G standards is already well advanced, operators plans to move to pre-commercial and commercial
launches are in hand, and equipment vendors are bringing their first 5G-ready solutions to the market.
Ovum forecasts that there will be 24 million 5G subscriptions worldwide at the end of 2021 for mobile and
fixed broadband services. North America and Asia, where a number of major operators have revealed
aggressive timelines for launching 5G services, will each account for more than 40% of global 5G
subscriptions. They will be followed by Europe with more than 10% of subscriptions, with the Middle East

2016 Ovum. All rights reserved.

TMT intelligence informa

and Africa accounting for the remainder. 5G services will be available in more than 20 markets worldwide
by the end of 2021, with services in all four major world regions.

Current status of 5G

Ovum defines a 5G subscription as an active connection to a 5G network via a 5G device. 5G is further

defined as a system based on and complying with 3GPP 5G standards, beginning with parts of 3GPP Release
15, which is scheduled to be finalized in 2018.
Timescales from completion of a new wireless technology standard to commercial launch are shrinking.
Commercial 5G services will launch in 2020, less than 30 months after the first 5G standards as defined in
3GPP Release 15 are finalized, and after the groundwork has been laid in Releases 13 and 14, which will
define aspects of an evolved 4G standard, including LTE-Advanced Pro (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Expected development of 4G and 5G standards, 201622

Commercial availability







R15 (5G)

Source: Ovum

Such is the appetite for the new technology that in an unprecedented move, a number of operators have
announced plans to launch pre-5G services before 2020. These services will not typically be based on
networks and devices complying with 5G standards, but will provide valuable insights into both the new
technologies and architectures that underpin 5G, and potential use cases.

New air interface, new network architecture

The technical aspects of 5G appear to be taking shape around a defined set of performance parameters and
technologies, as well as 5G's application to a group of broad market segments.
In order to serve such dramatically different use cases, 5G will be designed to be extremely flexible and
scalable at every level, from the physical layer of equipment through to the network architecture. Some key
design features include:
A new 5G air interface: This will rely heavily on OFDM, the basis of LTE and Wi-Fi, but will need to support
a huge variety of different use cases with very different requirements in terms of data speeds, power
consumption, latency, and system reliability. The new air interface will be required to work in a huge
range of spectrum bands and channel sizes, in traditional as well as many new deployment scenarios.
Flexible network architecture: 5G will rely on network functions virtualization (NFV) and softwaredefined networking (SDN) to create a new network architecture that is far more distributed and flexible
than todays networks. The aim will be to use virtualization to provide different devices and services with
different network slices containing the network features and functionality they require. Essentially, the
aim of 5G is to deliver different levels of performance, such as throughput and latency levels, across a
common infrastructure.

TMT intelligence informa

2016 Ovum. All rights reserved.

Multi-connectivity framework: 5G will build on and extend existing features such as carrier aggregation
and LTE Direct to allow far deeper and more flexible integration of different networks and devices to
deliver improved coverage and performance. Devices will connect simultaneously to multiple networks
and will aggregate spectrum and services opportunistically to improve performance.
Many of the technologies under discussion for 5G will start by being incorporated into 4G networks,
enhancing performance as the network evolves (see Figure 3). These technologies include network
virtualization and massive MIMO, which employs multiple antennas at the transmitter and receiver to
increase spectral efficiency.
Figure 3: Network performance gains, LTE to 5G


4G LTE-Advanced

4G LTE-Advanced Pro






Latency <20ms

Latency <10ms

Latency >1ms

Latency ~1ms

Source: Ovum

Planned pre-commercial/commercial launches

KNect365s 5G World event in June provided an important forum where the opportunities and challenges of
5G could be discussed and debated. This years event in London brought together stakeholders from across
the industry and beyond, all seeking a better understanding of what 5G comprises and what it can offer.
These included South Korean operator Korea Telecom, which expects to be among the first to launch a precommercial 5G network. Outlining the companys plans for a 5G trial service in 2018 at the Winter Olympic
Games in Pyeongchang, KTs Head of Network Technology, Young Sik Kim, said that the games would
represent a significant opportunity to demonstrate 5G technology. KT will be spending this year defining the
trial system for Pyeongchang, where it expects to demonstrate the technical capabilities of 5G, including
latency of 1ms and ultra-high speeds of 20Gbps.
Kim said that the video capabilities of the 5G technology will be used to show the games from the athletes
point of view, including omni-view video from different angles and holographic representations of
KT expects that the work from its pre-commercial service will feed into the global standard in time for the
commercial launch of 5G in 2020.
Also speaking at 5G World was Takehiro Nakamura, Managing Director of NTT DoCoMos 5G Lab. He
warned that operators did not have much time to prepare for 5G, and that they would need to be very
aggressive with 5G projects, particularly as the standard would evolve by using new frequency bands and
DoCoMo says it will deploy 5G for Japans Summer Olympics in 2020. It wants to use higher-frequency
bands and massive MIMO, expecting to achieve throughput of approximately 10Gbps. Trials are already

2016 Ovum. All rights reserved.

TMT intelligence informa

under way and from 2017/18 will move to a larger scale in order to verify system behavior. After the 2020
launch, the company aims to continuously improve its 5G systems.
In the US, Verizon Wireless announced its plans for a 5G field trial in 2016 and some 5G-based commercial
services in 2017. Vendor partners in this endeavor Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia, Cisco, Qualcomm, and
Samsung have already been working with the operator, studying 5G at Verizons labs in California and
In Europe, Telia Company is expected to be among the first operators to launch pre-standard 5G, with plans
to launch in 2018 (see Table 2).
Table 2: Planned 5G commercial launches



Launch date


South Korea



North America








North America






China Unicom


North America





South Korea







Middle East












Middle East




Middle East




Source: Ovum

5G World talking points

The recent vote in the UK to exit the EU was perhaps understandably a common talking point at this years
inaugural 5G World event, although there was little suggestion of any immediate, significant impact on
Europes role in 5G development. The terms of Brexit will become clearer over time, but many stakeholders
in 5G are heavily invested in the UK market and industry expectations are that collaboration between the
UK and Europe on 5G should continue uninterrupted, with much of the work to define and develop the
technology being carried through over the next 23 years.
Meanwhile, discussion on a range of issues concerning the definition, adoption, and commercialization of 5G
looks set to continue up to and beyond the launch of commercial services in 2020. These include:
How networks will evolve from 4G to 5G
Where and how 5G will start to be deployed
Which spectrum bands will be used, what the licensing models will be, and whether a globally adopted,
harmonized band will emerge
Which are the most promising and potentially profitable business models for 5G
Which devices will be used on 5G networks
How operators can plan for the right level of investment in 5G.
These and many more topics were addressed at this years event in a variety of forums, from the conference
floor to workshops, seminars, and discussion groups.

TMT intelligence informa

2016 Ovum. All rights reserved.

Concerns over spectrum approval

An important issue raised during the first-day keynotes was spectrum availability, potentially one of the
major challenges for 5G if the promised performance gains are to be achieved. These bands will range
from the sub-3GHz spectrum widely used for todays LTE networks, up to the 100GHz range currently being
investigated by some administrations.
The approval of new bands is in the hands of the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), the arm
of the International Telecommunication Union responsible for the global allocation of spectrum for mobile
broadband communications. However, with the WRCs four-year plenary cycle not due to resume until 2019,
the prospect that some key bands are unlikely to receive WRC approval in time for the first commercial
deployments of 5G is worrying operators.
Device vendors in particular, faced with the complex task of incorporating new bands, are pushing for the
new spectrum bands both below and above 6GHz to be identified, according to DoCoMo.
Meanwhile, in order to meet the aggressive deadlines being set for 5G, operators are proceeding with
some trials of the technology using frequencies such as the 28GHz band, which have not yet received WRC
approval. DoCoMo along with South Korea's SK Telecom and four major US mobile operators AT&T,
Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon are all pressing ahead with trials using bands as yet unapproved by WRC.

European operators favor lower bands

Europe, on the other hand, may not move to adopt these higher bands for some time. Speakers from both
Vodafone and Orange said they are looking at bands that can deliver wide area coverage and intend on
making the best use of the currently available licensed bands. David Lister, 5G Program Lead for Vodafone,
thinks that the focus in Europe will be in the lower bands for many years.
This is not to say that European operators are any less forward-looking than their counterparts in other
regions. At 5G World, Deutsche Telekom demonstrated a complete mini-5G network comprising the radio
and core network. This included examples of network slicing, and showed how already today separate
networks, even when they are as extreme as low-latency IoT and ultra-fast mobile broadband, can be run
on the same infrastructure.
DTs Kobus Smit thinks 5G will support the growth of video and virtual reality as a natural means of
communication, but said the most exciting services are those that we dont know about yet, but which will
develop because 5G is there.

Enabling IoT

IoT is emerging as one of the primary use cases for 5G. There is growing awareness among companies
of the transformational impact that IoT can have on their businesses, and hence the importance of 5G
technology as an enabler of this process. The discussion of IoT is extending beyond applications, such as
connected car and smart metering, to encompass the entire range of business activities across vertical
industry sectors such as manufacturing, utilities, and the production of raw materials.
One of the worlds largest mining companies, Vale, believes that IoT can help it to refocus its business on
productivity after a period of high growth in the first decade of this century. In a presentation at 5G World,
the company explained how by driving innovation throughout the value chain, it believes that IoT can help
to build a next-generation mining business, assisting in managing the vast scale of Vale's global operations
while also promoting greater levels of safety in its operations.

2016 Ovum. All rights reserved.

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Vendors showcase their 5G solutions

Extending the ecosystem to enable operators to target industry verticals via IoT and 5G is on the roadmap
of most large network equipment vendors. To support this and other 5G use cases, these vendors are
advocating the adoption of SDN/NFV and cloud-based approaches such as Cloud RAN, which should help to
create a 5G-ready network architecture while enabling features such as network slicing for simultaneous
delivery of multiple 5G services over a single network.
At the same time, there is broad agreement among those vendors that spoke at 5G World that cumulative
performance gains can be achieved both in the run-up to 5G and after launch, through the use of
technologies such as massive MIMO, flexible carrier aggregation, 256QAM, and license-assisted access
Given the degree of consensus among vendors, many chose to focus on strategies for evolving the network
from 4G to 5G, with Ericsson, Huawei, and Nokia all stressing the importance of pre-5G technologies such
as LTE-Advanced Pro as a stepping stone to 5G, but with varying emphases on how to manage this process.
At the same time, all were also reporting progress on technology trials and proof of concepts designed to
support some of the various use cases.
Ericsson showed the latest version of its 5G test bed, with beamforming and massive MIMO capability,
reporting that it has achieved speeds of 25Gbps using 15MHz of bandwidth. The vendor has already moved its
test bed out into the field where it is being used in customer networks.
Ericsson offers its Lean Carrier technology, a software upgrade for 4G networks, as a stepping stone to 5G,
claiming to boost 4G performance by employing a number of software plug-ins that leverage techniques
already under development for 5G, including massive MIMO, multi-user MIMO, RAN virtualization, latency
reduction, and intelligent connectivity.
The vendor is leveraging these prototype technologies in operator field trials in North America and Asia, and
recently demonstrated technology for smart vehicles and intelligent transport applications.

Huawei pointed out that 4.5G will coexist with 5G for a long time to come. In Huawei's view, the transition
to 5G, in addition to driving increased speed and capacity, should be focused on providing an improved
user experience with enhancements such as HD voice and HD video, providing more connections in order
to enable access to vertical markets and access for IoT, and redefining network architectures to provide
greater flexibility.
The three pillars required to create 5G-ready networks are cloud architectures, new air interfaces, and
intelligent operations, says Huawei. The vendor believes that Cloud RAN will be an important function of
delivering 5G and IoT, and advocates a phased implementation starting with LTE networks in order to be fully
ready for 5G.
Huawei says a recent large-scale field trial in partnership with NTT DoCoMo that used sub-6GHz spectrum
achieved a speed of 3.6Gbps, while under laboratory conditions it has achieved trial 5G speeds of more than


TMT intelligence informa

2016 Ovum. All rights reserved.

Nokia also argues that operators need to make maximum use of pre-5G technologies, undertaking a
fundamental evolution of their networks to create a more cognitive, converged, and cloud-optimized
architecture, while also transforming and streamlining service setup and delivery. The vendor says it is also
working on expanding the ecosystem for 5G to support new vertical use cases for industry. It adds that 5G
will need to make good use of new spectrum bands at 28GHz and above, and that Nokia is engaged in trials
using these bands.
At 5G World, Nokia demonstrated what was claimed to be the worlds first 5G-ready network using a
commercial AirScale radio platform and a cloud packet core, which allows the company to test 5G technology
on a real commercial network. Among a number of use cases on display at the vendors stand was one for
driverless cars, which compared the experience of using LTE with that of a faster and more responsive 5G
network, and a demonstration connecting robots at the factory of the future.

ZTE let users experience 5G massive MIMO and showed a prototype network for high-frequency bands
supporting up to 10GHz of capacity. The vendor also showed multi-user shared access (MUSA) capability for
IoT, which it says can improve the number of connections by hundreds of times. ZTE says that employing a
new waveform, FB-OFDM, can eliminate the need for guard bands in narrowly defined IoT systems.

Qualcomm discussed how LTE is becoming a critical part of the 5G platform by evolving to help address
important 5G use cases, including enhanced mobile broadband, mission-critical services, and massive IoT.
The vendor explained how scaled-down, narrowband technologies such as eMTC and NB-IoT can support
IoT use cases, while developments in in-car communications can act as a precursor to the kind of advanced
driver assistance systems envisaged for 5G.

Oracle addressed what it calls the now economy which is being created by a new generation of companies
such as Uber, Netflix, airbnb, and Tesla, through their ability to build applications using embedded
communications and interconnected services based in the cloud. In order to remain relevant, CSPs who
want to engage with these new players need to become more agile by modernizing their development
methodologies and delivery cycles, and by learning to incorporate things like DevOps and agile software
development into their delivery models, says Oracle. It believes that the main barrier to this sort of change
isnt a technical one, but one that is business-related.

2017 and beyond

Judging by the progress achieved to date, the remainder of 2016 and first half of 2017 will bring
significant further advances in extending the capabilities of 5G technology, both by defining its role in
enhancing mobile broadband services and in supporting the wider set of use cases currently under
consideration. Beyond that, there may be a wealth of possibilities still to be explored.
With the standards in place, vendors and operators can be expected to drive forward with field
trials, pilots, and proof of concepts designed to establish just how the technology will support future
services. And by this time next year, the first pre-commercial services will be just months away from


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2016 Ovum. All rights reserved.

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Extended content on the Road to 5G
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Ovum is a leading global technology research and advisory firm. Through its 180 analysts worldwide it offers expert
analysis and strategic insight across the IT, telecoms, and media industries. Founded in 1985, Ovum has one of the most
experienced analyst teams in the industry and is a respected source of guidance for technology business leaders, CIOs,
vendors, service providers, and regulators looking for comprehensive, accurate and insightful market data, research
and consulting. With 23 offices across six continents, Ovum offers a truly global perspective on technology and media
markets and provides thousands of clients with insight including workflow tools, forecasts, surveys, market assessments,
technology audits and opinion. In 2012, Ovum was jointly named Global Analyst Firm of the Year by the IIAR.
For more details on Ovum and how we can help your company identify future trends and opportunities, please contact
us at or visit To hear more from our analyst team join our Analyst Community
group on LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter

ABOUT 5G Series
The 5G Series is a collection of leading events, designed to help mobile operators and IoT players from around the world
discover new ways to serve their customers with more superior networks and more effective and profitable services. The
5G Series includes:
5G World | 5G Latin America | 5G MENA | 5G Asia | LTE Voice | 5G North America | LTE Africa

ABOUT KNect365
Informas Knowledge & Networking Division, which operates as KNect365, is the worlds leading facilitator of knowledge
sharing and business connections. The KNect365 portfolio provides digital content, memorable face to face experiences,
networking, and professional development and learning. Operating in key industry verticals, including finance, life
sciences, and technology, we provide the highest-quality content and thought leadership alongside platforms for
connecting and collaborating, giving our customers real advantage.