5G will be front-and-center at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona, Spain, next week as operators move from the test phase to actual commercial deployments. Look for the large vendors like Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung to be touting the “readiness” of their 5G platforms as well as displaying more advanced features, like network slicing and mobile edge connectivity. The key message from the industry is that 5G is about more than just the 5G New Radio (NR).
Although Nokia announced its Future X network architecture in late January, the company will be talking a lot about this 5G platform at Mobile World Congress and demonstrating how it uses artificial intelligence (AI) to enable network slicing. Also look for the vendor to hone in on the other elements of 5G, like backhaul and multi-access edge computing. “When we talk about the Future X architecture, we are looking at an architectural blueprint of how a network is built and bringing together the key components,” said Phil Twist, vice president of mobile networks marketing at Nokia.
Likewise, Ericsson will be showcasing 5G products that the company will be deploying commercially in the fourth quarter of this year. Ericsson has been named a vendor for both Verizon’s pre-standard fixed 5G deployment that will launch later this year as well as Swisscom’s Gigabit LTE network that will launch later with year with plans to upgrade to 5G in 2020.
Erik Ekudden, Group CTO of Ericsson, said in an interview with SDxCentral that the company will be focusing on the 5G platform and how operators need the flexibility to deploy container workloads on premise to support massive Internet of Things (IoT) deployments. He also said that operators are starting to realize that because of the distributed nature of the 5G network, they are going to need to look more closely at network security and network monitoring.
“We are talking about commercial deployments very soon,” Ekudden said. “That requires investment and leadership. Some are driving the infrastructure buildout. And some want to be early on 5G.”
Another hot topic: use cases. Not only are vendors talking about how vertical industries like automotive and transportation will be using 5G networks, they will be demonstrating it. Ericsson plans to have demonstrations of how logistics companies and transportation firms are using IoT and showing operators how they can create new opportunities with these technologies.
Ekudden added that Ericsson has worked on more than 20 industry pilots with smart infrastructure and smart buildings, and those are all based upon an underlying 5G platform that includes the cloud and cloud access. “In the industrial IoT space, we are seeing a lot of traction with our solutions, and these companies they really want to engage with us.”
Perhaps to even further demonstrate how 5G is rapidly moving from concept to reality, the GSMA will be hosting a 5G panel that isn’t just a bunch of vendors or operators touting their 5G vision —instead it will feature a panel of CIOs from Philips, Sprint, Three Island, and Pernod Ricard. What do CIOs need to know about 5G? The panel will focus on the changing role of IT and how CIOs need to be experts in everything from 5G to digital transformation. The panel is on Tuesday at 11 a.m. and will be moderated by Global Data Chief Analyst Peter Jarich.