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The future of 5G: What to expect in 2017

The road to 5G.

Glenn Laxdal, CTO and head of strategy at Ericsson North America, hosted a session at this year’s AT&T Developers Conference titled “The Road to 5G,” where he outlined how the upcoming mobile network will influence the “internet of things.”

Laxdal opened by citing the growth of IoT at 29 billion connected devices by 2022, and the anticipated 100 million-plus “5G” expected subscriptions over that same time period. Laxdal said data traffic for smartphones is expected to grow fivefold between 2016 and 2022.

Laxdal went on to describe how different regions are prioritizing network plans, with North America and South America focused on fixed wireless access and the transfer from macro to small cell; Europe looking at new use cases and operators seeking new revenue streams; and North Asia interested in mobile broadband and connected car testing.

New use cases were cited as one the more important areas of focus for 5G, with an emphasis on both its high and low frequencies. Laxdal broke those use cases up into several groups, including massive machine-type communications; smart building, asset tracking, fleet management, smart metering, smart agriculture and capillary networks; critical machine-type communications; traffic safety, industrial apps and control, remote manufacturing and training surgery; enhanced broadband; and smartphone, home, enterprises, venues, mobile/wireless, non-SIM, 4K/8K resolution, broadcasting, virtual and augmented reality.

Ericsson noted 5G progress in 2017 would include gigabit LTE devices using aggregate 4×4 multiple-input/multiple-output antenna technology. Within 5G, Cat-M and narrowband IoT are expected to be instrumental in enabling the creation of new IoT use cases, and enabling technologies like network functions virtualization and software-defined networking.

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