September 30, 2015
Although everyone is talking about 5G, no one has defined it — up until now. China and the European Union have agreed to create a working definition for 5G by the end of the year. If they do, their agreement could go far in forcing the issue in an environment in which others are posturing and issuing statements with little detail. Meanwhile, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which defined 3G and 4G, is also working on the standard but is unlikely to choose a technical standard until February 2016.
IT World reports that, along with the news that ITU plans to release a name for 5G next month — most likely International Mobile Telecommunications System 2020, signaling the year ITU expects the first equipment will become available. ITU’s deliberative work will begin “around December,” when 3GPP is slated to start a six-month study of “the requirements for 5G radio access networks, with a view to submitting a proposed standard to ITU in early 2020.”
That’s long after the European Commission and China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology plan to determine a global consensus, “by the end of 2015, on the concept, basic functionalities, key technologies and time plan for 5G,” according to their agreement. The EU has made a similar agreement with Japan and Korea to agree on “the broad definition, the key functionalities, and target time table for 5G.”
IT World states that, “neither agreement constitutes an end run around the ITU or 3GPP, though, as the EU, China and South Korea also agreed to promote global standardization in support of the work being done by those two bodies,” as well as conduct joint research and “cooperate to identify new frequency bands in which 5G networks could operate globally.”
The emphasis on global cooperation is an indirect reference to how standard setting for 3G and 4G was hindered by rivalries. The only missing major player in the discussion over the future of 5G, notes IT World, is the U.S.