Why Evolving The RAN Is Fundamental To 5G’s Success

April 26, 2018

Mobile network operators globally have partnered with network equipment vendors on trials ahead of 5G’s widespread availability in 2020. Yet, in recent months, far more crystallized claims have been made. Following the approval of the 3GPP 5G NR specifications in late 2017, some mobile operators promised to have live 5G networks in place within the next year. Are we in the early stages of evolution to this technology, or is the industry’s current position on 5G more hype than reality?

Despite confidence from US operators, a number of challenges must be addressed before these deployments can truly take shape. Alongside valid comments from T-Mobile’s CTO Neville Ray, who slammed Verizon’s decision to use pre-standard technology, a list of network design concerns, virtualization considerations, and spectrum efficiency questions are flying under the radar, which must be answered before 5G networks can truly go live.

To ensure 5G’s success, operators need to capitalize on the lessons learned from previous network rollouts. The shift from 2G to 3G was a considerable step change in function for the industry. The move from 3G to 4G was more drastic, and 5G will present greater hurdles still.

Each stage of the mobile industry’s evolution until now has been dependent on new infrastructure to soak up heightened data demand and deliver on new use cases, without any real attention being paid to capital expenditure. This is part of the reason why mobile network operators are still looking to recoup their 4G investments. With 5G networks dependent on new hardware and up-front investment yet again, this is where the story needs to change while this new technology is still on the road to widespread commercial implementation.

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