In a North American first: 50 professors, engineers and researchers met November 12 to 14 in Monterey, California to discuss and share their work on topics related to 5G. They took deep dives into new use cases, system-level orchestration and advances in radio technology needed to deliver the promise of 5G by 2020. The conference was sponsored by Qualcomm and Ericsson. In the videos linked below, five of the attendees discuss the status of 5G research and the progress they are making in their work.
One of the main themes of the presentations in the conference was that the future 5G network will provide an integrated, distributed platform for computing, storage, network resources as well as connectivity. One of the main improvements that this platform will provide will be much lower latency, even to the point of millisecond latency, and an improved cost and energy efficiency. Use cases like autonomous vehicles, remote medicine can all benefit from lower latency and new levels of reliability.
In delivering this distributed architecture, research concepts like fog computing and edge-centric approaches were also discussed. Presenters also pointed out the need for new, distributed ways of connecting everything, such as device-to-device and multi-hop communications. It is no longer enough to rely on a cloud-centric model and there must be a multitude of resources distributed close to the users. The emergence of 5G will enable a new class of applications and services that can take advantage of this distributed platform.
In the radio domain the theme was "do not be afraid of the future, we can shape it together." The discussion of spectrum, millimeter wave radio, shared spectrum, small cells and beam-forming all indicated that researchers were ready to address the challenges of uniform user experiences and exponential increases in network capacity. Several of the presentations showed that progress has already been made in the areas of gigabit transmission over the air. The future challenges revolve around mobility, reliability, scalability, coverage, energy efficiency in networks, and reducing power demands in devices. The decrease in power will be particularly critical for sensors in the 5G network that may require multi-year life-spans without recharging.
There were many opportunities for cross-domain collaboration among researchers when the discussion turned to broad use cases such as traffic safety, self-driving vehicles, robotics, drones and network operators. The panels often mixed industry and academia, users and network operators. The varied people at the conference reflected the technology as 5G will need to connect everything across an extreme variation of types of services and use cases—from entertainment to emergency services. All of this variation can be unified by design: spectrum, services, and deployment models.
The event showed that 5G research in North America is increasing in priority across the public and private sector and distributed across a wide variety institutions and companies. It also showed that these researchers are prepared to collaborate and address the biggest challenges to making 5G a reality. Many of the people attending left with new connections, perspectives and inspirations in pushing for the boundaries of 5G research.