For other uses, see 5G (disambiguation).

5th generation mobile networks or 5th generation wireless systems, abbreviated 5G, are the proposed next telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards. Rather than faster peak Internet connection speeds, 5G planning aims at higher capacity than current 4G, allowing higher number of mobile broadband users per area unit, and allowing consumption of higher or unlimited data quantities in gigabyte per month and user. This would make it feasible for a large portion of the population to stream high-definition media many hours per day with their mobile devices, when out of reach of wifi hotspots. 5G research and development also aims at improved support of machine to machine communication, also known as the Internet of things, aiming at lower cost, lower battery consumption and lower latency than 4G equipment.

There is currently no standard for 5G deployments. The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance defines the following requirements that a 5G standard should fulfill:[1]

The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance feels that 5G should be rolled out by 2020 to meet business and consumer demands.[3] In addition to providing simply faster speeds, they predict that 5G networks also will need to meet new use cases,[4] such as the Internet of Things (internet connected devices) as well as broadcast-like services and lifeline communication in times of natural disaster. Carriers, chipmakers, OEMS and OSATs, such as Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE), have been gearing up for this next-generation (5G) wireless standard, as mobile systems and base stations will require new and faster application processors, basebands and RF devices.[5]

Although updated standards that define capabilities beyond those defined in the current 4G standards are under consideration, those new capabilities have been grouped under the current ITU-T 4G standards. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the spectrum for 5G, including the 28 Gigahertz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands, on July 14, 2016.[6][7]


A new mobile generation has appeared approximately every 10 years since the first 1G system, Nordic Mobile Telephone, was introduced in 1982. The first '2G' system was commercially deployed in 1992, and the 3G system appeared in 2001. 4G systems fully compliant with IMT Advanced were first standardized in 2012. The development of the 2G (GSM) and 3G (IMT-2000 and UMTS) standards took about 10 years from the official start of the R&D projects, and development of 4G systems began in 2001 or 2002.[8][9] Predecessor technologies have been on the market a few years before the new mobile generation, for example the pre-3G system CdmaOne/IS95 in the US in 1995, and the pre-4G systems Mobile WiMAX in South-Korea 2006, and first release-LTE in Scandinavia 2009. In April 2008, NASA partnered with Machine-to-Machine Intelligence (M2Mi) Corp to develop 5G communication technology[10]

Mobile generations typically refer to nonbackward-compatible cellular standards following requirements stated by ITU-R, such as IMT-2000 for 3G and IMT-Advanced for 4G. In parallel with the development of the ITU-R mobile generations, IEEE and other standardization bodies also develop wireless communication technologies, often for higher data rates, higher frequencies, shorter transmission ranges, no support for roaming between access points and a relatively limited multiple access scheme. The first gigabit IEEE standard was IEEE 802.11ac, commercially available since 2013, soon to be followed by the multigigabit standard WiGig or IEEE 802.11ad.


Based on the above observations, some sources suggest that a new generation of 5G standards may be introduced in the early 2020s.[11][12] However, significant debate continued, on what 5G is about exactly. Prior to 2012, some industry representatives expressed skepticism toward 5G.[13] 3GPP held a conference in September 2015 to plan development of the new standard.[14]

New mobile generations are typically assigned new frequency bands and wider spectral bandwidth per frequency channel (1G up to 30 kHz, 2G up to 200 kHz, 3G up to 5 MHz, and 4G up to 20 MHz), but skeptics argue that there is little room for larger channel bandwidths and new frequency bands suitable for land-mobile radio.[13] The higher frequencies would overlap with K-band transmissions of communication satellites.[15] From users' point of view, previous mobile generations have implied substantial increase in peak bitrate (i.e. physical layer net bitrates for short-distance communication), up to 1 gigabit per second to be offered by 4G.

If 5G appears and reflects these prognoses, then the major difference, from a user point of view, between 4G and 5G must be something other than faster speed (increased peak bit rate). For example, higher number of simultaneously connected devices, higher system spectral efficiency (data volume per area unit), lower battery consumption, lower outage probability (better coverage), high bit rates in larger portions of the coverage area, lower latencies, higher number of supported devices, lower infrastructure deployment costs, higher versatility and scalability, or higher reliability of communication. Those are the objectives in several of the research papers and projects below.

GSMHistory.com[16] has recorded three very distinct 5G network visions that had emerged by 2014:

In its white paper, 5G Empowering Vertical Industries, 5G PPP, the collaborative research programme organized as part of the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme, suggests that to support the main vertical sectors in Europe - namely automotive, transportation, healthcare, energy, manufacturing, and media and entertainment - the most important 5G infrastructure performance requirements are a latency below 5 ms, support for device densities of up to 100 devices/m2 and reliable coverage area, and that a successful 5G deployment will integrate telecommunication technologies including mobile, fixed, optical and satellite (both GEO and MEO).[18]

Research & development projects

In 2008, the South Korean IT R&D program of "5G mobile communication systems based on beam-division multiple access and relays with group cooperation" was formed.[19]

In 2012, the UK Government announced the establishment of a 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey – the world's first research center set up specifically for 5G mobile research.[20]

In 2012, NYU WIRELESS was established as a multidisciplinary research center, with a focus on 5G wireless research, as well as its use in the medical and computer-science fields. The center is funded by the National Science Foundation and a board of 10 major wireless companies (as of July 2014) that serve on the Industrial Affiliates board of the center. NYU WIRELESS has conducted and published channel measurements that show that millimeter wave frequencies will be viable for multigigabit-per-second data rates for future 5G networks.

In 2012, the European Commission, under the lead of Neelie Kroes, committed 50 million euros for research to deliver 5G mobile technology by 2020.[21] In particular, The METIS 2020 Project was the flagship project that allowed reaching a world-wide consensus on the requirements and key technology components of the 5G. Driven by several telecommunication companies, the METIS overall technical goal was to provide a system concept that supports 1,000 times higher mobile system spectral efficiency, compared to current LTE deployments.[4][12] In addition, in 2013, another project has started, called 5GrEEn,[22] linked to project METIS and focusing on the design of green 5G mobile networks. Here the goal is to develop guidelines for the definition of a new-generation network with particular emphasis on energy efficiency, sustainability and affordability.

In November 2012, a research project funded by the European Union under the ICT Programme FP7 was launched under the coordination of IMDEA Networks Institute (Madrid, Spain): i-JOIN (Interworking and JOINt Design of an Open Access and Backhaul Network Architecture for Small Cells based on Cloud Networks). iJOIN introduces the novel concept of the radio access network (RAN) as a service (RANaaS), where RAN functionality is flexibly centralized through an open IT platform based on a cloud infrastructure. iJOIN aims for a joint design and optimization of access and backhaul, operation and management algorithms, and architectural elements, integrating small cells, heterogeneous backhaul and centralized processing. Additionally to the development of technology candidates across PHY, MAC, and the network layer, iJOIN will study the requirements, constraints and implications for existing mobile networks, specifically 3GPP LTE-A.

In January 2013, a new EU project named CROWD (Connectivity management for eneRgy Optimised Wireless Dense networks) was launched under the technical supervision of IMDEA Networks Institute, to design sustainable networking and software solutions for the deployment of very dense, heterogeneous wireless networks. The project targets sustainability targeted in terms of cost effectiveness and energy efficiency. Very high density means 1000x higher than current density (users per square meter). Heterogeneity involves multiple dimensions, from coverage radius to technologies (4G/LTE vs. Wi-Fi), to deployments (planned vs. unplanned distribution of radio base stations and hot spots).

In September 2013, the Cyber-Physical System (CPS) Lab at Rutgers University, NJ, started to work on dynamic provisioning and allocation under the emerging cloud radio-access network (C-RAN). They have shown that the dynamic demand-aware provisioning in the cloud will decrease the energy consumption while increasing the resource utilization.[23] They also have implemented a test bed for feasibility of C-RAN and developed new cloud-based techniques for interference cancellation. Their project is funded by the National Science Foundation.

In November 2013, Chinese telecom equipment vendor Huawei said it will invest $600 million in research for 5G technologies in the next five years.[24] The company's 5G research initiative does not include investment to productize 5G technologies for global telecom operators. Huawei will be testing 5G technology in Malta.[25][26]

In 2015, Huawei and Ericsson are testing 5G-related technologies in rural areas in northern Netherlands.[27]

In July 2015, the METIS-II and 5GNORMA European projects were launched. The METIS-II project[28] builds on the successful METIS project and will develop the overall 5G radio access network design and to provide the technical enablers needed for an efficient integration and use of the various 5G technologies and components currently developed. METIS-II will also provide the 5G collaboration framework within 5G-PPP for a common evaluation of 5G radio access network concepts and prepare concerted action towards regulatory and standardisation bodies. On the other hand, the key objective of 5G NORMA is to develop a conceptually novel, adaptive and future-proof 5G mobile network architecture. The architecture is enabling unprecedented levels of network customisability, ensuring stringent performance, security, cost and energy requirements to be met; as well as providing an API-driven architectural openness, fuelling economic growth through over-the-top innovation. With 5G NORMA, leading players in the mobile ecosystem aim to underpin Europe's leadership position in 5G.[29]

Additionally, in July 2015, the European research project mmMAGIC was launched. The mmMAGIC project will develop new concepts for mobile radio access technology (RAT) for mmwave band deployment. This is a key component in the 5G multi-RAT ecosystem and will be used as a foundation for global standardization. The project will enable ultrafast mobile broadband services for mobile users, supporting UHD/3D streaming, immersive applications and ultra-responsive cloud services. A new radio interface, including novel network management functions and architecture components will be designed taking as guidance 5G PPP's KPI and exploiting the use of novel adaptive and cooperative beam-forming and tracking techniques to address the specific challenges of mm-wave mobile propagation. The ambition of the project is to pave the way for a European head start in 5G standards and to strengthen European competitiveness. The consortium brings together major infrastructure vendors, major European operators, leading research institutes and universities, measurement equipment vendors and one SME. mmMAGIC is led and coordinated by Samsung. Ericsson acts as technical manager while Intel, Fraunhofer HHI, Nokia, Huawei and Samsung will each lead one of the five technical work packages of the project. [30]

In July 2015, IMDEA Networks launched the Xhaul project, as part of the European H2020 5G Public-Private Partnership (5G PPP). Xhaul will develop an adaptive, sharable, cost-efficient 5G transport network solution integrating the fronthaul and backhaul segments of the network. This transport network will flexibly interconnect distributed 5G radio access and core network functions, hosted on in-network cloud nodes. Xhaul will greatly simplify network operations despite growing technological diversity. It will hence enable system-wide optimisation of Quality of Service (QoS) and energy usage as well as network-aware application development. The Xhaul consortium comprises 21 partners including leading telecom industry vendors, operators, IT companies, small and medium-sized enterprises and academic institutions. [31]

In July 2015, the European 5G research project Flex5Gware was launched. The objective of Flex5Gware is to deliver highly reconfigurable hardware (HW) platforms together with HW-agnostic software (SW) platforms targeting both network elements and devices and taking into account increased capacity, reduced energy footprint, as well as scalability and modularity, to enable a smooth transition from 4G mobile wireless systems to 5G. This will enable that 5G HW/SW platforms can meet the requirements imposed by the anticipated exponential growth in mobile data traffic (1000 fold increase) together with the large diversity of applications (from low bit-rate/power for M2M to interactive and high resolution applications).[32]

In July 2015, the SUPERFLUIDITY project, part of the European H2020 Public-Private Partnership (5G PPP) and led by CNIT, an Italian inter-university consortium, was started. The SUPERFLUIDITY consortium comprises telcos and IT players for a total of 18 partners. In physics, superfluidity is a state in which matter behaves like a fluid with zero viscosity. The SUPERFLUIDITY project aims at achieving superfluidity in the Internet: the ability to instantiate services on-the-fly, run them anywhere in the network (core, aggregation, edge) and shift them transparently to different locations. The project tackles crucial shortcomings in today's networks: long provisioning times, with wasteful over-provisioning used to meet variable demand; reliance on rigid and cost-ineffective hardware devices; daunting complexity emerging from three forms of heterogeneity: heterogeneous traffic and sources; heterogeneous services and needs; and heterogeneous access technologies, with multi-vendor network components. SUPERFLUIDITY will provide a converged cloud-based 5G concept that will enable innovative use cases in the mobile edge, empower new business models, and reduce investment and operational costs. [33]

In September 2016, China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced that the government-led 5G Phase-1 tests of key wireless technologies for future 5G networks were completed with satisfactory results. Seven companies were invited to participate – Datang Telecom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia Shanghai Bell, Samsung and ZTE. The next step in China 5G technology development involving tech trials is underway. These government efforts as well as tests across 100 cities and the schedule to launch commercial operation of 5G in 2020, following with large-scale deployments in 2022 or 2023 underscore China’s aim to be a leader of 5G technology development and 5G commercialization.


The first widely cited proposal for the use of millimeter wave spectrum for cellular/mobile communications appeared in the IEEE Communications Magazine in June 2011.[34] The first reports of radio channel measurements that validated the ability to use millimeter wave frequencies for urban mobile communication were published in April and May 2013 in the IEEE Access Journal and IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, respectively.[35][36]

The IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications published a special issue on 5G in June 2014, including, a comprehensive survey of 5G enabling technologies and solutions.[37] IEEE Spectrum has a story about millimeter-wave wireless communications as a viable means to support 5G in its September 2014 issue.[38]


See also

Further reading


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  3. https://www.ngmn.org/uploads/media/NGMN_5G_White_Paper_V1_0.pdf
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External links

Preceded by
4th Generation (4G)
Mobile Telephony Generations Succeeded by
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