5G Dominates at the Mobile World Congress Americas
The inaugural Mobile World Congress Americas, held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center from Sept. 12–14, featured a compelling preview of the 5G future. Showcasing technologies ranging from the M-CORD platform to ultra-wideband (UWB) antennas and holographic beamforming, the conference brought together over 21,000 participants from 110 countries, according to Fierce Wireless.
New Technologies Showcased
One of the hottest innovations for the 5G network is M-CORD, an open-source reference solution built on the CORD platform developed by the Open Network Foundation. M-CORD is built on software-defined networking, network functions virtualization and cloud technologies. It virtualizes radio access network and evolved packet core to create a microservices architecture. This architecture makes it easier to run mobile edge applications and to scale as needed by virtualizing and disaggregating operator-specific services and cellular network functions.
On the hardware front, Wireless Week reports that Taoglas showcased its UWB antennas, designed to provide better indoor wireless application performance than current technologies such as Bluetooth, assisted GPS and Wi-Fi. In addition to doing a better job of transmitting large amounts of data over short distances, UWB antennas have the potential to improve location reporting and range while requiring less battery power from machine-to-machine devices.
Pivotal Commware highlighted its holographic beamforming capability, which dynamically shapes and steers narrow beams so they can reuse the same frequency as other beams without obstructing one another. It’s a project that has attracted a lot of attention — and $17 million from investors including Bill Gates, according to the Seattle Times. It can potentially enable carriers to improve coverage in response to usage patterns, landscape changes or other physical obstacles by making cellular connections much faster while using less spectrum.
Based on Mobile World Congress Americas, one thing seems certain: The 5G future is piecemeal. Initial small-scale deployments have confirmed analyst speculation that the first 5G deployments will support high-bandwidth applications, as well as the last mile of services.
After an era of heavy infrastructure expansion — and the heavy spending that made it possible — carriers view last-mile 5G devices as ways to deliver improved service at a lower cost. These technologies also provide ways to rapidly enter new markets, although 5G’s shorter wavelength makes it less practical than fiber for expanding into sparsely populated areas.
5G’s value proposition, ultimately, is to deliver high bandwidth over wireless. Early use cases include using 5G to support applications like augmented reality and virtual reality or 8K Ultra HD video, as extensions of existing 4G LTE networks.