Figuring out the use cases for 5G has not been straightforward and remains a work-in-progress. That is partly to do with the advances that have been made with LTE and LTE-Advanced technologies. Indeed, vendors and operators have attained download speeds of 1 Gb/s and higher in 4G trials. In August 2016, Finnish mobile operator Elisa said it had achieved speeds of close to 2 Gb/s in network tests with China’s Huawei. And 5G Americas (an advocacy and education group) listed a total of seven LTE-Advanced deployments in the Americas as of July 2016, showing early traction.
One question often asked about 5G is: What will it be able to support that is currently not possible with 4G networks? Use cases that have been defined so far have attempted to focus on the potential they provide in terms of revenue growth and cost savings. In addition, there is a growing recognition that operators will also need to provide industry-specific services targeted at vertical sectors, such as the automobile industry, and fund new revenue-sharing models. This marks a departure from the more traditional approach of focusing on the consumer.
The 3GPP has de ned more than 70 different use cases, now categorized into different groups: massive IoT, critical communications, enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), and network operation. In its 5G white paper published in February 2015, the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance claimed that 5G would support “countless emerging use cases with a high variety of applications and variability of their performance attributes.” The alliance developed 25 use cases grouped into eight families: broadband access in dense areas; broadband access everywhere; higher user mobility; massive IoT; extreme real-time communications; lifeline communication; ultra-reliable communications; and broadcast-like services.