Bangalore, January 12 2016: It's still early days for 5G -- the 5th generation of cellular communication -- but we need to profit from the learnings of the first four generations before lurching into Gen Next, suggests Henning Schulzrinne, Levi Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University (US) and Technical Advisor to the (US) Federal Communications Commission.
He was delivering a public lecture yesterday at the International Institute of Information Technology here.
While earlier generations ratcheted up the complexity with each iteration, we now have a chance to KISS ( Keep It Simple, Stupid) and make up-- for lost time. But that can't happen till industry is ready to change in some fundamental ways:
Dr Schulzrinne's suggestion: don't try to DIY (Do IT Yourself). Towers, Backhaul, Fibre to home/office, Network Operating Centres, Spectrum Management .... could all be profitably run by different entitities rather by umbrella telecom providers. Carriers will end up as yet another consumer brand, he added.
The pricing and economy model is set for change too. Whether voice, data or video, it's all a matter of shifting bits. But while all bits are equal, some, like George Orwell's pigs, are more equal than others. IT's a volume game: the cost per bit of an email is actually a thousand time higher than one bit of video.
5G will have to provide what customers perceive to be more fair and equitable pricing, leaving behind current irritants like annual contracts; differential pricing based on quality of service and contracts that bind you to one provider. "One subscriber can own multiple devices and switch at will between multiple providers".
That scarce commodity -- spectrum --will have to be shared in future by multiple operators and service providers. This in turn will demand frequency agile 5G systems that can shift capacity, quickly, seamlessly, to different bands.
The global WiFi roaming service for academia -- Eduroam -- is in fact a model for what 5G should provide for everybody Dr Schulzrinne said.
Find Dr Schulzrinne's 5G lecture presentation deck here